On the second day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian technology minister has made an unusual request to Apple CEO Tim Cook: block Russian citizens from accessing the App Store.
Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation tweeted a purported copy of his official request to Cook directly to "stop supplying Apple services and products to the Russian Federation, including blocking access to the App Store," he wrote. "In 2022, modern technology is perhaps the best answer to the tanks, multiple rocket launchers (hrad) and missiles."
The minister ends by appealing to the youth and active population of Russia to resist the invasion themselves. But if Apple steps in to block App Store access, Russian citizens could be blocked from apps and services they use to coordinate resistance, as David Kaye, UC Irvine Law Professor and former UN Special Rapporteur on free speech, noted in a tweet.
This is Ukraine's first official request that a tech company take action in response to Russian invasion. Earlier today, US carriers began waiving international and long-distance call fees for those attempting to contact others in Ukraine.
Ukraine may be trying other ways to defend itself with technology, including reportedly recruiting the country's hacker community to protect infrastructure and spy on Russian military movements.
Read more: What to Know About US and European Sanctions Against Russia
Ukraine's tech minister also voiced support for US sanctions. US President Biden has deployed several rounds of sanctions against Russia in retaliation to its invasion, which began cutting off major Russian banks and businesses from western markets and limiting tech exports to the country.
Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for confirmation.