California: US-based tech firm Apple Inc. halted sales of the iPhone and its other highly prized technology products in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, saying the company stands “with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence.”
In a statement, Apple said, “We have paused all product sales in Russia. Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country.”
The tech giant said Tuesday that it stopped exporting products into the country’s sales channel last week, ahead of pausing sales. It’s also removing the RT News and Sputnik News applications from App Stores outside of Russia and has disabled traffic and live-incident features in Ukraine as a “safety and precautionary measure” for citizens there.
“We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Apple said in a 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.”
The action followed pleas for Apple to stop selling products in Russia, with Ukraine Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov saying the move could help turn Russian youth against the invasion. He also called on the company to shutter its local App Store — a step it hasn’t yet taken. Apple has operated an online store specific to Russia for the last several years, as well as an App Store tailored to the country.
This isn’t the first time Apple has cut off a country. Apple stopped sales briefly in Turkey last year because of economic turmoil and currency fluctuation. But it’s a rare step by the world’s most valuable company and will further isolate a nation of about 145 million people.
The company outlined a number of actions in response to the invasion, including stopping all exports into its sales channels in the country. Apple Pay and other services have been limited, the company said. The Russian state media, RT News and Sputnik News, are no longer available for download from the Apple Store outside Russia.
On Tuesday, users in Russia were still able to access Apple’s online store but attempts to buy an iPhone showed that they were not available for delivery.