Russia’s ccTLD has posted very impressive growth in registrations for 2023, attributable largely to sanctions related to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
ccTLD.ru, the registry for .ru and .рф, reported that it ended 2023 with 5,439,137 .ru domains, an increase of 506,024 or 10.3% over the year. It said 85% of the names were registered by Russians.
It said 1,709,718 new domains were registered in .ru, with over 200,000 being registered per month by December.
For comparison with fellow top-10 ccTLDs, Germany’s .de grew by 201,000 names last year, and Brazil’s .br grew by 220,000. The UK’s .uk shrank and the Netherlands’ .nl was basically flat.
In the smaller Cyrllic .рф, the growth rate was even greater — 13.7%, with 768,883 domains in total at the end of the year, up 92,769 names, the registry said.
Despite the rapid growth, .ru is still a bit off its 2017 peak of around 5.53 million domains, according to my database.
In a press release, ccTLD.ru director Andrey Vorobyev admitted that one of the “main drivers” of the growth were Russians transferring their sites to Russia “under the pressure of sanctions”.
After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, many domain registries and registrars in the West unilaterally decided to stop doing business with Russian citizens and organizations, despite US government sanctions specifically not applying to domains.
GoDaddy cut off Russians and .ru while Namecheap, which has many support staff in Ukraine, cut off Russian customers and continues to prominently fund-raise for Ukraine on its storefront. Other companies announcing boycotts included 101domain, IONOS and Nominet.
Ukraine’s ccTLD, .ua, has fared less well during the crisis. Its total domain count shrank by about 77,000 to 514,000 in 2023, according to my database. The local registry, Hostmaster, had frozen deletions for a period to give people who had been displaced or mobilized more time to renew, but started releasing those domains last year.
Hostmaster has reported adoption of certain third-level geographic .ua domains that use Latin transliterations of Ukrainian place names, rather than Russian — .kyiv.ua versus .kiev.ua for example — as citizens seek to “de-Russify” their holdings.
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