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Ukraine asks Apple to stop product sales and block access to App Store in Russia

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister called on Apple to stop selling its products and shut down its App Store in Russia. Mykhailo Fedorov, who is also the country’s digital transformation minister, asked Tim Cook for the tech giant’s support in a letter. “The whole world repulses the aggressor by the imposition of sanctions – the enemy must suffer heavy losses… [I]In 2022, modern technology may be the best answer to tanks, multiple rocket launchers, and missiles,” he wrote in a bid to convince Apple’s chief executive.

Russia launched a full-scale military assault on Ukraine on Thursday morning, entering the country from three sides and attacking by land, air and sea. It bombed major cities across the country, including the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which was bombarded with missiles on Friday morning. In response to the invasion, the US government and its allies unveiled new sanctions against Russia to block its access to exports in hopes of limiting its military and technological capabilities. Additionally, the sanctions target Russian oligarchs by limiting their ability to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen.

As Bloomberg notes, Apple has an online store in Russia and offers a local version of its App Store in the country. Last year, it complied with a Russian legal requirement to highlight apps created by local developers. According to the news agency, it has also registered a business office and posted job offers for positions in Moscow in recent months, most likely in line with local regulations. Russia began enforcing a law last year that requires tech companies like Apple, Google and Meta to have a physical presence within its borders.

Fedorov ended his letter to Cook, which he posted on Twitter, with what Ukraine hopes will happen if Apple withdraws from Russia: “We are sure that such actions will motivate young people and the working population of Russia to proactively stop shameful military aggression.” Cook has previously said Apple is doing everything possible for its teams in Ukraine and “will support local humanitarian efforts,” but the company has yet to publicly respond to Fedorov’s appeal.