It should come as no surprise that Yandex, the dominant search engine in Russia, is closely watching Google to try and stay one step ahead of the global search giant.

The company really only needs to own the Russian market to thrive, and it’s doing a pretty good job at fending off Google by quickly releasing similar – and new – services (Maps, Navigator, photo sharing, social networking search – you name it).

Case in point: this morning Yandex launched a beta version of Yandex.Disk, a free cloud storage service that allows users to store their files online and access them from any Internet-enabled device. It’s only available in Russian though.

Google, of course, is prepping the launch of its Drive cloud storage service, which is rumored to offer 5 GB of storage space and in-app document editing capabilities.

Interestingly, China’s search leader Baidu also recently launched a cloud storage service to rival Google’s upcoming service, as well as other Web-based storage services like Microsoft SkyDrive, iCloud, Dropbox and Box.

The Yandex.Disk cloud storage service is accessible via a Web interface, and desktop clients for Windows and Mac OS. For users with iOS and Android smartphones, there’s also an extension to the Yandex.Mail app.

Yandex offers users up to 10 GB (page in Russian) of storage space for personal documents, photos, music, or videos. Interestingly, Yandex.Disk also automatically saves all attachments to the emails in their Yandex.Mail account.

The service has additional storage space allocated specifically for that purpose, the company says in a statement.

In addition, Yandex.Disk supports synchronization between devices, enabling users to save and edit text files, for example, from multiple PCs.

Currently, access to Yandex.Disk is exclusively granted by invitation (and, again, available in Russian only for the time being).

Also read:

Russian search giant Yandex reports $200m in revenues for Q4 2011, up 56%

Russian search giant Yandex pushes ad sales in Europe with opening of new Swiss office

Yandex extends its mobile reach, becomes default search engine on Russian Windows Phones