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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Irwin

The war in Ukraine is putting tech — from companies to governments — to the test

Starlink terminals. Facebook fact-checks. The International Space Station. Russia's invasion has affected the tech industry in countless ways, and has forced the industry to react.


3/1/2022

Co-byline with Nat Rubio-Licht, Sarah Roach, and Alex Eichenstein

Tech is playing a critical role in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Companies are extending relief to Ukrainian workers, social networks are blocking Russian ads and state-run media, and governments are taking aim at Russia with sanctions. Russia and Ukraine are using tech to their advantage, too: Ukraine has used its social media channels to call on the rest of the world for help, while Russia is pushing networks to remove unfavorable content and promote the Russian perspective to the world.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest ways governments and businesses are responding to the war in Ukraine. We will update this page frequently as news and events change.


What's the latest?

SAP began an "orderly exit" from Russia on Tuesday, April 19. The German software company is ending sales in Russia and Belarus and ending cloud operations in Russia. On Thursday, April 7, Meta released a 27-page report detailing how it's cracking down on misinformation campaigns originating from Russia and Belarus. The platform says it's seeing a sharp increase in covert operations targeting Ukrainians. In response, Meta is giving regional fact-checkers more resources as well as establishing an office with Russian and Ukrainian speakers focused on the issue.

On Wednesday, April 6, Apple brought a Russian opposition app back to its App Store. Both Apple and Google were threatened with arrest last month unless they took down an app run by supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

How are tech companies responding to the war in Ukraine?

As the situation in Ukraine escalates, so too have tech companies' responses to the Russian invasion. Many companies have suspended sales in Russia or cut off services, and some have cut ties with the country altogether.

The following companies have halted operations in Russia and Belarus, stopped taking new customers there or cut Russia off from their services:

  • Feb. 28: Netflix said that it won’t add any Russian channels to its service.

  • Feb. 28: General Motors & Daimler Truck reportedly suspended some business in Russia.

  • March 1: Disney paused releasing films in Russia

  • March 1: Mastercard & Visa blocked Russian banks from their networks.

  • March 3: Airbnb suspended operations in Russia and Belarus.

  • March 3: Spotify shut down its office in Russia indefinitely.

  • March 4: Amazon Web Services stopped accepting new customers in Russia and Belarus.

  • March 4: Cogent Communications, a U.S.-based internet service provider, is cutting off services to Russian clients.

  • March 5: Paypal suspended services in Russia, also affecting its Xoom money-transfer service.

  • March 6: TikTok suspended livestreaming and new content uploads in Russia.

  • March 6: Netflix fully suspended its service in Russia.

  • March 7: Enterprise technology companies EPAM Systems and Luxoft announced that they’re cutting ties with Russia.

  • March 7: WeWork halted business in Russia, pausing expansion plans and divesting in operations in the region.

  • March 9: Lumen, a U.S.-based internet service provider, stopped doing business in Russia.

  • March 9: Sony paused operations of the Playstation Store in the country.

  • March 9: Bumble halted operations in Russia and Belarus and pulled its apps from the Apple and Google stores in those countries.

  • March 9: Amazon stopped shipping products from its retail site and restricted access to Amazon Prime in Russia.

  • March 10: Google Cloud confirmed to Protocol that it stopped accepting customers in Russia.

  • March 16: Qualcomm said it would stop selling products to Russian companies.

  • March 25: Spotify announced it would "fully suspend" its service in Russia.

  • April 5: Intel suspended all business operations in Russia.

  • April 19: SAP began shutting down all Russian operations in addition to ending sales in Belarus.

The following companies have stopped sales in Russia and Belarus:

  • March 1: Apple cut off Russia from “all product sales.”

  • March 3: CD Projekt Group, developer of The Witcher games, halted all sales of its products in Russia and Belarus.

  • March 4: Samsung halted product shipments to Russia, suspending exports of products such as chips, smartphones and consumer electronics.

  • March 4: Microsoft suspended new sales of products and services in Russia.

  • March 4: Activision Blizzard stopped new sales "of and in" its games in Russia.

  • March 5: Epic announced it is “stopping commerce” in Russia.

  • March 9: Sony suspended software and hardware sales in Russia.

Companies have also restricted or labeled Russian state-run news, including RT and Sputnik, and Russian disinformation, or paused ties to Russian search engines:

  • Feb. 28: Roku removed RT from its channel store.

  • Feb. 28: TikTok banned state-backed news organizations from accessing their accounts.

  • March 1: Meta restricted access to Russian state-run news outlets RT and Sputnik in the EU.

  • March 1: DuckDuckGo paused its relationship with Russian search engine Yandex.

  • March 2: Reddit banned links to state-supported Russian media outlets across its site.

  • March 3: Spotify removed all content from Sputnik and RT.

  • March 4: Telegram banned Russian state-run media following pressure from Europe to remove the channels.

  • March 8: Instagram is "downranking" posts by Russian state-owned media on its feeds, lowering their priority in the Stories queue and giving people a warning before they reshare content from state-controlled media.

  • March 10: DuckDuckGo will now downrank sites associated with Russian disinformation.

  • March 11: YouTube is blocking access to channels associated with Russian state-run media globally.

The following companies have stopped ads or removed the ability to monetize in Russia:

  • Feb. 25: Meta prohibited Russian state media from running ads or monetizing anywhere globally.

  • Feb. 25: Twitter temporarily paused ads in Ukraine and Russia as a way to elevate “critical public safety information.”

  • March 2: Snap paused ads on the Snapchat app in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

  • March 3: Alphabet suspended all ads in Russia, covering search, YouTube and publishing partners.

  • March 7: Apple paused advertising on the App Store in Russia.

  • March 10: Google Play and YouTube suspended monetization features and payment-based services in Russia.

  • March 23: Google said it won't let YouTube channels, websites or apps sell ads that dismiss the war.

Tech companies are also providing aid or tools to Ukrainians:

  • Feb. 28: Airbnb offered free housing to up to 100,000 people fleeing Ukraine.

  • March 1: SpaceX launched its Starlink internet service and sent terminals to Ukraine.

  • March 1: Mastercard & Visa pledged $2 million each to aid in Ukrainian humanitarian relief.

  • March 1: Meta started offering encrypted Instagram DMs in Russia and Ukraine.

  • March 7: EPAM announced an incremental $100 million humanitarian commitment to support its employees in Ukraine and their families.

  • March 7: Google said it will use office space in Poland to offer legal and psychological services to Ukrainian refugees.

  • March 7: AT&T waived international roaming charges for calls, text and data from Ukraine to anywhere globally through March 17.

  • March 9: Verizon waived international calling, texting and data roaming charges for consumers and small business customers in Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine until March 17. It extended the waiver until March 24 on Wednesday, March 16.

  • March 9: Tesla announced it will pay Ukrainian employees for up to three months if they are called to fight.

  • March 10: Michael and Susan Dell are personally donating $15 million to organizations supporting Ukrainian families.

  • March 15: Airbnb's Brian Chesky announced that he, his co-founders and wife will match donations on Airbnb.org up to $10 million.

  • March 17: PayPal said it will let Ukrainian citizens and refugees receive payments from overseas.

  • March 20: Epic donates proceeds from Fortnite to Ukrainian relief efforts.

How are governments responding to the war in Ukraine?

Ukraine and Russia:

Mykhailo Federov announced "Meta History: Museum of War," a NFT collection created to fundraise for the war effort. The tokens are each tied to a news article from a major news source about developments in the war. Ukraine has benefited greatly from the crypto craze, raising somewhere between $54 million and $100 million in different cryptocurrencies.Ukraine has reportedly started using Clearview AI's facial recognition technology, Reuters reported. The country's defense ministry is receiving free access to the service, allowing authorities to vet people at checkpoints.

When services restrict Russia, Russia restricts back. Roskomnadzor, Russia's communications regulator, restricted access to Facebook within the country . The agency announced last week that it would "partially restrict" the social network as an act of retaliation for fact-checking and labeling posts. After Facebook parent Meta said it would allow posts calling for violence against Russia, the country announced it would block access to Instagram, too. A few days later, Russian developers announced they're creating their own version of Instagram, called Rossgram. On Wednesday, March 23, Roskomnadzor blocked Google News, accusing the news aggregator of running what it deems as fake material about the invasion of Ukraine. The country also fined Google for about $137,763 USD for not removing what Russia considers "fake" news.

Russia also blocked exports of telecom, medical, auto, agricultural, electrical and tech equipment until the end of 2022. That includes equipment like railway cars and containers, along with more than 200 other items.

After initially saying no to crypto, Ukraine actually will take crypto donations. The Ukrainian government and a nonprofit supporting the country’s military have received over $22 million worth of digital assets since allowing crypto donations last weekend. On Wednesday, March 16, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday signed a law making crypto legal.

Ukraine wants to kick Russia offline. The country wants ICANN to cut Russia off from the global computer network. ICANN rejected its request.

Russia won't sell rocket engines to the United States anymore. The move would mostly affect the United Launch Alliance, a launch provider for NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense, and Northrop Grumman, which sends cargo to the International Space Station.


Ukraine is embroiled in a meme war with Russia. Ukraine has posted a lot of memes and sarcastic lines about Russia on its Twitter account recently, but that’s nothing new. Experts think it’s a soft power tool the country is using to assert its sovereignty from Russia to the rest of the world. The rest of the world:

The EU is putting restrictions on the ability to share content from RT and Sputnik. The European Commission is requiring search engines to block search results that reference the two Russian media outlets and asking social networks to restrict posts directing users to either outlet.

What you need to know about SWIFT. EU leaders want to work with the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and Italy to remove some Russian banks from SWIFT and freeze Russia’s central bank assets. The main idea behind the ban is to stop Russia from operating its finances globally. The world’s biggest container lines stopped cargo shipments to and from Russia, including MSC, Denmark's Maersk and France’s CMA CGM.

The war in Ukraine could cause major chip issues. The White House wants to cut off Russia’s access to chips, which could have a ripple effect on the rest of the world. But another big chip shortage is top of mind.

The cyber risks are also real. The war has raised the possibility that a major cyberattack could affect U.S. and European systems, even though the fighting so far hasn’t spilled far outside of Ukraine’s borders. Both the Kremlin and cybercriminals allied with Russia will likely step up their attacks as the war continues.

NASA and Russia’s space station partnership is at risk. The International Space Station has long been a sign of collaboration among countries, Russia included. But those relationships have gotten strained as of late, especially amid sanctions that would “degrade” Russia’s space program.


Protocol Link: https://www.protocol.com/policy/russia-ukraine-war-tech

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