Microsoft halts all sales in Russia

It's the latest tech giant to withdraw in protest of the Ukraine invasion.

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Apple isn't the only tech behemoth pulling its products from the Russian market in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Microsoft is 'suspending' all new sales of products and services in Russia, and is halting "many aspects" of its business in the country to honor US, UK and EU sanctions. The move comes days after Microsoft restricted Russian state media across its platforms, and after Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister called on the company to block Russian Xbox accounts.

Microsoft saw the withdrawal as virtually necessary. "Concrete steps" like this would have the most impact, according to company president Brad Smith, and there will be "additional steps" as the Ukraine situation develops. The Windows creator was unambiguous in its criticism of Russia, calling the invasion "unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful" and pointing out its efforts to identify and counter Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine.

The initiative could have a significant impact on Russian use of technology. Microsoft products play important roles for computing in Russia like they do in many countries, including Windows, Office and services like Microsoft 365 or Azure. While existing users might not lose access, this could pose problems for anyone needing to buy a new product or renew a subscription. We've asked Microsoft how this might impact Russian PC vendors — they'll need licenses if they intend to sell Windows-based computers.

Whatever the exact damage, the sales freeze follows a string of crackdowns at tech companies like Google, Meta, Reddit and Twitter. Russia won't necessarily bend in response to these actions, but there's clearly concerted pressure on the country to act.

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