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Apple pauses all product sales in Russia, pulls RT and Sputnik from App Stores outside of Russia

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Apple has announced sweeping restrictions in Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine with the iPhone maker pausing all product sales in the country and stopping exports to Russia sales channels.

In addition to the restrictions in Russia, Apple is also pulling RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik from its App Stores outside of Russia and disabling traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a “safety and precautionary measure” for Ukrainian citizens.

“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. “We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region.”

It added: “We will continue to evaluate the situation and are in communication with relevant governments on the actions we are taking. We join all those around the world who are calling for peace.”

Before Russia invaded Ukraine, Apple had complied with the Russian government’s censorship demands by removing the app of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s biggest rival Alexei Navalny last September. It also bowed to Russian government pressure in November 2019 by listing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation in Apple Maps.

Numerous companies, including domain and hosting provider Namecheap, the payment card firms Visa and Mastercard, and streaming video service Netflix, have pulled some or all of their services from Russia over the last few days.

Russia also restricted access to the US tech platforms Facebook and Twitter last week after they pulled support for some Russian media.

Outside of Russia, state-controlled Russian media outlets have been blocked or heavily restricted in multiple countries after pressure from the European Union (EU) and high ranking European officials.

While Russia and tech platforms have continued to block and restrict tech services in a way that’s limiting citizens’ access to information and services, the heads of several large cryptocurrency exchanges have rejected the calls to ban all users in Russia and its ally Belarus with a spokesperson for the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance saying, “Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe. To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists.”

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