As the domestic fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues for Russian citizens, it looks as though Windows Insiders might now be unable to download new builds in the country through Windows Update. This new and separate issue comes right after it was discovered that Russians were also blocked from downloading Windows 10 & Windows 11.
This was first reported by Neowin, which cites a Twitter thread of someone discussing not being able to upgrade to the latest Insider build in Russia. In that thread, one Windows Insider seems to confirm that it is in fact no longer possible because there's a country code parameter for Windows Update. However, the Twitter user also says that using a VPN would still allow for updates.
Yep, no longer possible.
In the response from WU there is a parameter <CountryCode>RU</CountryCode>, but if you use VPN (Germany, for example), then WU says <CountryCode>DE</CountryCode> and update goes fine. (1/2)
— Svyatoslav Demidov (@svyatoslavd_) June 22, 2022
Interestingly enough, another Twitter user seems to add to this speculation. This second user mentions that while they can't download ISO files, usual Windows updates like defender intelligence or cumulative updates work fine. In a follow-up, this Twitter user also added that they can't join any of the Windows Insider channels, though it might be because of their PC not meeting Windows 11 requirements.
usual windows updates such as defender intelligence updates or cumulative updates are fine, but i can't join any channel but release preview on that pc
maybe it doesnt fall under windows 11 requirements i dunno
— wukko (@uwukko) June 22, 2022
Microsoft has yet to announce anything through the Windows Insider channels or official blogs about shutting down the Windows Insider program in Russia. There's also a chance that these Twitter users are just having technical issues. We reached out to Microsoft for clarification on what's happening and will update this story accordingly.
Microsoft last updated the world on how it is responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine on June 8 by saying that it will "significantly scale down operations" in Russia. This involves about 400 employees, which Microsoft said would be treated with respect while it also works to still fulfill contracts with existing Russian customers.