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.”
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.
Apple shares dipped to session lows following news of the move, before recouping some of the losses. The stock fell 1.2% for the day, closing at $163.20.
The Cupertino, California-based company also began limiting its Apple Pay service and other online offerings in Russia during recent days.
The shuttered online store sold iPhones, Macs, iPads, AirPods and other products directly to consumers. In recent months, the company also registered a business office in Russia and this month posted job listings for about half-a-dozen positions in Moscow.
Nike Inc., another iconic U.S. brand, halted sales in Russia as well, saying Tuesday that it “cannot guarantee delivery of goods to customers.” HP Inc., the largest supplier of personal computers to Russia, also stopped exports to the country this week.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last week, attacking from the north, east and south of the country. Russian troops have shelled Ukrainian cities, aiming to seize the capital, Kyiv.
Apple said it will continue to evaluate the situation and that it is in communication with governments on the actions that it’s taking. “We join all those around the world who are calling for peace,” the company said.
Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook expressed his concern last week about the “situation in Ukraine,” without naming Russia. “I am thinking of the people who are right now in harm’s way and joining all those calling for peace,” he tweeted.