Apple Suspends All Russian Product Sales, Disables Some Apple Maps Features in Ukraine for ‘Safety’
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In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Apple has suspended all sales of products on its online store in the Russian Federation.
While Apple’s Russian store website is still operational on the front-end, all products are now showing as “Currently Unavailable,” and the store is no longer accepting orders. Basically, visitors can only browse, but it’s unclear if that may soon change.
According to independent Russian media outlet The Moscow Times, this isn’t a glitch, either. The agency tweeted that both Apple had Nike has “temporarily suspended sales through their official Russian websites.” This has also been by other news sources and anecdotal user reports.
Apple’s latest move follows on the heels of sanctions against the Russian Federation by numerous world governments and other agencies. In the case of the U.S., some of those sanctions have also blocked exports to Russia by U.S. companies, although it’s unclear whether Apple comes under those particular rules.
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On Friday, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov called on Apple CEO Tim Cook to block the Apple Store for citizens of the Russian Federation, including not only the online store, but also the App Store.
I appeal to you, and I am sure that you will not only hear, but also do everything possible to protect Ukraine, Europe and, finally, the entire democratic world from bloody authoritarian aggression – to stop supplying Apple services and products to the Russian Federation, including blocking access to App Store. Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister, Ukraine
Before Federov’s petition, Cook had made a public statement that he was “deeply concerned with the situation in Ukraine,” adding that Apple would be “supporting local humanitarian efforts.”
At the time, however, Cook stopped short of suggesting that Apple was considering any direct sanctions. Many criticized him for what they considered to be a somewhat soft response, adding that his reference to the invasion of Ukraine as merely a “situation” didn’t fully recognize the severity of what’s going on in that country.
Today, however, Apple has clearly taken at least some action, although at this point it’s unclear whether that was in response to Federov’s request or to comply with U.S. sanctions.
Notably, the Russian App Store still appears to be operational; however, Apple has released a statement explaining its position and some of the other actions it’s taken.
Apple is no longer mincing words here. In its official statement, it says that it’s “deeply concerned about the Russian invasion,” and adds that it’s “taken a number of actions in response to the invasion.”
In addition to “pausing all product sales in Russia,” Apple notes that it’s stopped all exports into the country, meaning the availability of Apple products may soon be limited through third-party resellers as well.
Apple has also pulled the apps for Russian news services RT News and Sputnik News, so that they’re no longer available even outside of Russia. They also note that “Apple Pay and other services have been limited,” although at least concerning Apple Pay, this is as much about the Russian banking system being cut off by international sanctions.
Over the weekend, Moscow’s public transit authority warned residents of the city that they might have trouble using not just Apple Pay, but also Google Pay and Samsung Pay, leaving citizens scrambling for cash to pay their transit fares.
In its statement, Apple also adds that it has disabled traffic and live incidents for Apple Maps in Ukraine “as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.” The reasons for this last action are a bit unclear, but it could be a double-edged sword, as those looking to flee the country can no longer rely on Apple Maps for accurate information.
As things are rapidly changing, Apple has noted that it “will continue to evaluate the situation” and that it’s keeping in touch with relevant governments to map out the best possible courses of action.