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

The country's Vice Prime Minister wrote his plea in a letter to Tim Cook.

Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister has called on Apple to stop selling its products and to shut down its App Store in Russia. Mykhailo Fedorov, who also serves as the country's Minister of Digital Transformation, has asked Tim Cook for the tech giant's support in a letter. "The whole world is repelling the aggressor through the imposition of sanctions — the enemy must suffer significant losses... [I]n 2022, modern technology is perhaps 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 in early Thursday, entering the country from three sides and attacking by land, air and sea. It bombed the country's major cities, including the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which was bombarded with missiles on Friday morning. As a response to the invasion, the US government and its allies have unveiled new sanctions against Russia to block its access to exports in hopes of constraining its military and technological capabilities. In addition, the sanctions are targeting 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 made by local developers. According to the news organization, it also registered a business office and posted job listings for positions in Moscow in the past few months, most likely to comply with local regulations. Russia started 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 would happen if Apple pulls out of Russia: "We are sure that such actions will motivate youth and active population of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression." Cook previously said that Apple is doing all it can for its teams in Ukraine and "will be supporting local humanitarian efforts," but the company has yet to publicly respond to Fedorov's plea.