Does NordVPN Work in Russia?

Last Updated: April 27, 2021

VPNs have become essential now that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the millions of resources on the internet. Asides from keeping you away from cybercriminals, VPNs can also keep you away from internet censorship. Russia is one of such countries that control what its citizens can see and hear on the internet. In this piece, we will discuss if NordVPN works in Russia or not. 

Does NordVPN Work in Russia?

NordVPN works in Russia if you intend to connect to a server outside the country. However, you cannot connect to a server in Russia. Unfortunately, due to the Russian government’s increasing internet censorship, NordVPN does not operate any server in the country. 

Why did NordVPN remove all its servers in Russia? We earlier mentioned that the Russian government previously clamped down on VPNs. They are also taking a hard stance against VPNs that don’t agree to cooperate with its internet censorship policies. 

Towards the ending of the first quarter of 2019, the Russian government, through its national media regulator, the Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media), issued a notice to ten VPN service providers. They wanted these VPN service providers to give them access to their servers to keep on maintaining their stance against internet freedom. They further threatened that if those VPN services didn’t comply within 30 days, the government would shut them down. 

The goal of the Roskomnadzor’s ultimatum was to ensure that VPN users in Russia will not be able to circumvent the restrictions that the government placed on some websites. NordVPN would have needed to create backdoor access for this Russian agency in order to comply with the order, which would have compromised its stance on privacy and security. NordVPN gave three reasons for not complying and deciding to remove its servers in Russia. 

Firstly, creating a backdoor meant that they would have little or no control over what the government uses their access to do. NordVPN could not accept this sort of vulnerability as it would no longer be able to guarantee the safety of its customers’ data. Secondly, NordVPN holds the belief that every person has a right to privacy. Filtering what its users can see or cannot see takes away that belief. Complying meant it would violate its No-Log Policy and ultimately the privacy of its users.

Lastly, NordVPN is a strong advocate of online freedom. Cooperating with the Russian government would stifle the online freedom of its users. These three reasons were why NordVPN made the decision to have no physical presence in Russia. So, you cannot connect to any local NordVPN servers in Russia because it has zero servers there, but you can connect to servers outside the country if you are in Russia. 

Why Do You Need a VPN in Russia?

As long as you have a device connected to a public network (e.g., the internet), your data is at risk of exposure, theft, destruction, manipulation, and other related evils. Most of the communication on the internet is between a client and a server. The server and client both have unique identity numbers (IP addresses) to identify each other after establishing a connection. There are three entities that can log this connection between your device and a server: your device, the server, and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). 

Your ISP can monitor every connection you establish on the internet and successfully block access to certain websites or content they don’t want you to see. ISPs can track websites you visit, the time you spend on those websites, the content you watch, and even your geographical location. In countries with authoritarian governments, ISPs will obey every directive of the government. Your ISP will oblige if the government censors certain sites or gives an order to monitor people that access certain websites. This takes away every form of online privacy that citizens of that country have. 

Internet censorship is common in countries like Iran, China, and Russia. Citizens in such countries do not have the freedom to operate as they like on the internet. The government quickly identifies those that criticize them because ISPs can track every activity on the internet. If ISPs refuse to cooperate, they will shut them down. This is where a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is helpful. 

A VPN will mask your IP address and set up protective/security measures to maintain your privacy and anonymity. It is a powerful weapon against any form of internet censorship. The Russian government knows this and has previously clamped down the activities of VPNs operating in its territory. Apart from a VPN protecting you from the Russian government’s increasing censorship, it also keeps you safe from malicious entities with high-grade encryption and other security features. You can also get past geo-restrictions using a VPN connection. 

How To Set Up and Use NordVPN in Russia

There are several ways to set up and use NordVPN, depending on the device you intend to protect. Since mobile devices are one of the most popular devices people use to connect to the internet, we will only guide you through configuring NordVPN on a smartphone. The best way to use NordVPN is through its application, as it is easy to configure and use. We will look at how to configure and use NordVPN on the two most popular mobile operating systems: Android and iOS. 

Setting Up NordVPN on Android

Follow the guide below to set up and use NordVPN on your Android device in Russia:

1. The first thing to do is to download the NordVPN application from the Google Play Store. Launch the Play Store application and input “NordVPN” in the search bar. Choose the NordVPN application and click on “Install.”

2. Launch the application, click on the “SIGN UP” button if you don’t have a Nord Account, or click the “LOG IN” button if you have one. You will be redirected to a Nord Account page to complete the sign-up or login process. If you’re signing up, you will have to buy a subscription plan before you can start using NordVPN. 

3. Connect to any server of your choice by going through the server list or let NordVPN recommend one (the “QUICK CONNECT” button will do this). If it’s the first time you’re using the application, you will see a pop-up about the CyberSec feature. Enable it if you want malware protection. 

4. Accept any permissions that the application needs to function fully. 

5. You can check out the “Specialty servers” section if you want to use one. You can also add servers you frequently use to your favorites list. Just click on the heart icon beside a server when you search for it. 

6. Clicking the settings icon will expand different settings you can change, including CyberSec, Split Tunneling, Auto-Connect, Kill Switch, and other advanced settings.

Next, let’s see how to do the same on iOS devices. 

Setting Up NordVPN on iOS

Follow the guide below to set up and use NordVPN on iOS:

1. Launch the App Store on your device, search for the NordVPN application, and download it. If you don’t see the application (in regions with VPN restrictions), you might need to create a new Apple ID to download it. You can find more information on NordVPN’s support center.

2. Launch the application and sign up or log in. You will be redirected to a Nord Account page to complete the sign-up or login process. If you’re signing up, you will have to buy a subscription plan before you can start using NordVPN. 

3. Connect to any server of your choice or let NordVPN recommend one via the “QUICK CONNECT” button. 

4. Accept any permissions that the application needs to function fully.

5. You can check out the “Specialty servers” section if you want to use one. You can also add servers you frequently use to your favorites list. Just click on the heart icon beside a server when you search for it. 

6. Clicking the menu icon will expand different settings you can change, including CyberSec, Split Tunneling, VPN protocol, Auto-Connect, Kill Switch, and other advanced settings.

Why Use NordVPN in Russia?

Here are some reasons you should consider using NordVPN in Russia?

1. Commitment to Privacy and Security

NordVPN’s refusal to cooperate with the Russian government shows that it values your privacy, security, and internet freedom. It is one of the most secure and trustworthy VPN services, and PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) has verified that to be true. Its security suite of basic and advanced settings ensures that you are adequately protected. 

2. Extensive Server Network

While NordVPN does not have servers in Russia, it has servers in several regions of the world. Its server presence in 59 countries allows its users in Russia to bypass heavy censorship. Its specialty servers, including Double VPN and Obfuscated servers, contribute to its fight against internet censorship. 

Conclusion

NordVPN has proven without a doubt that it values your privacy, security, and internet freedom. Unfortunately, due to the Russian government’s directive in 2019, NordVPN does not have servers in Russia. Regardless, you can connect to NordVPN’s international servers to get past the internet censorship in Russia.