Apple Stops Selling Products in Russia, Limits App Store, Apple Pay and Maps

The tech giant says it's "deeply concerned" about the invasion of Ukraine and is supporting humanitarian efforts.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
David Lumb Mobile Reporter
David Lumb is a mobile reporter covering how on-the-go gadgets like phones, tablets and smartwatches change our lives. Over the last decade, he's reviewed phones for TechRadar as well as covered tech, gaming, and culture for Engadget, Popular Mechanics, NBC Asian America, Increment, Fast Company and others. As a true Californian, he lives for coffee, beaches and burritos.
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2 min read
Apple computers

Apple says it has responded to the invasion with various measures over the past week.

James Martin/CNET

Apple said Tuesday that it's ceased selling its products in Russia, following the country's attack on Ukraine. The tech giant said it's halting online transactions and exports to its partners in Russia in addition to other measures, including limiting Apple Pay transactions in the country. Apple also said it's disabled some features of Apple Maps in Ukraine to protect civilians.

"We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence," Apple said in an e-mailed statement. "We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region."

Apple joins a growing list of tech companies responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week. Others, including Meta's Facebook, TikTok and YouTube, have responded by cracking down on disinformation and reducing the online presence of Russian state-owned media outlets like RT News and Sputnik News. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who's increasingly spoken out on political issues over the years, tweeted his concerns about the violence shortly after Russia's invasion began last week.

The tech giant didn't say how long its efforts will remain in place. "We will continue to evaluate the situation and are in communication with relevant governments on the actions we are taking," the company said. "We join all those around the world who are calling for peace."

Apple's actions include pulling RT News and Sputnik News from the App Store outside Russia, which stops short of blocking Russian access to the App Store entirely within the country, as Ukraine's top tech minister asked Cook to do on Friday. But that could prevent people in Russia from coordinating potential anti-war actions and staying informed, says David Kaye, UC Irvine law professor and former UN special rapporteur for free speech.

"I'd be really worried that if they cut off the App Store, it's going to make it much more difficult for individuals to ensure that their devices are updating and specific apps are secure," Kaye said. "It would discourage people from using Apple products, which are among the most secure devices that people have in Russia. It would be a problem for activists and journalists and others."

Instead, Kaye explains, Apple's current actions thread the needle by ensuring iPhone owners can still connect in Russia and Ukraine while the company follows US sanctions in restricting sales of products.