Apple announced sweeping changes on Tuesday that will limit the use of its services by Russian citizens and the Russian government.
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, the company said it has “paused all product sales in Russia,” and that its payment platform Apple Pay has been “limited.” Earlier this week, Apple confirmed that it no longer supports Russian bank Novikombank, and Russian citizens have reported issues using the service to pay for items while overseas.
“With each new image of families fleeing their homes and brave citizens fighting for their lives, we see how important it is for people around the world to come together to advance the cause of peace,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a letter to employees.
Last week, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted a copy of a letter he’d sent to Cook, where he requested that Apple “stop supplying Apple services and products to the Russian Federation.”
The company also announced that Kremlin-controlled news outlets RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available on the App Store outside of Russia. Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has ceased recommending Russian state media worldwide.
In addition to these restrictions, Apple has also disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps inside of Ukraine “as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.”
“We will continue to evaluate the situation and are in communication with relevant governments on the actions we are taking,” Cook wrote. “This moment calls for unity, it calls for courage, and it reminds us that we must never lose sight of the humanity we all share.”
See the full email Cook sent to Apple’s staff below:
I wanted to take a moment to address the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
I know I speak for everyone at Apple in expressing our concern for all of those affected by the violence. With each new image of families fleeing their homes and brave citizens fighting for their lives, we see how important it is for people around the world to come together to advance the cause of peace.
Apple is donating to humanitarian relief efforts and providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis. We are also working with partners to assess what more we can do. I know that many of you are eager to find ways to support as well, and we want to help amplify the impact of your donations. Starting today, Apple will match your donations at a rate of 2:1 for eligible organizations, and we will make this retroactive for donations to those organizations since February 25. Please visit the Employee Giving Portal to learn more.
We are working to support our teams in Ukraine and across the region. In Ukraine, we have been in contact with every employee, assisting them and their families in any way we can. For our Ukrainian team members located outside of the country that may need support, please contact [redacted]. And for any employee who needs any support, please visit the People site for available resources.
As a company, we are taking additional actions as well. We have paused all product sales in Russia. Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country. Apple Pay and other services have been limited. RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the App Store outside Russia. And we have disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.
We will continue to evaluate the situation and are in communication with relevant governments on the actions we are taking.
This moment calls for unity, it calls for courage, and it reminds us that we must never lose sight of the humanity we all share. In these difficult times, I take comfort in knowing that we are united in our commitment to each other, to our users, and to being a force for good in the world.