RT and Sputnik removed from App Store as Apple pauses all product sales in Russia

1 March 2022, 21:09 | Updated: 2 March 2022, 00:46

Apple pauses all product sales in Russia
Apple pauses all product sales in Russia. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the Apple app store outside of Russia.

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The tech giant confirmed all product sales in Russia have stopped and Apple Pay has also been limited in the country.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Apple said: "We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence.

"We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region.

"We have taken a number of actions in response to the invasion. We have paused all product sales in Russia.

"Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country. Apple Pay and other services have been limited.

"RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the App Store outside Russia.

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"And we have disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.

"We will continue to evaluate the situation and are in communication with relevant governments on the actions we are taking. We join all those around the world who are calling for peace."

Google has also removed the Russian state media outlet RT from its news search tool and the channel will no longer be available on Sky, the culture secretary has said.

Nadine Dorries said the move would mean "Putin's polluting propaganda machine" would be "severely restricted" in Britain.

In a tweet, Ms Dorries said: "Shortly, the French satellite which broadcasts Russia Today (RT) in both the EU and UK will be switched off.

"This means RT will no longer be available via Sky.

"Putin's polluting propaganda machine will now have severely restricted access into British homes via our TV screens."

Kent Walker, Google's president of global affairs added: "In this extraordinary crisis we are taking extraordinary measures to stop the spread of misinformation and disrupt disinformation campaigns online."

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It comes after the video-sharing website YouTube blocked channels linked to RT and Sputnik across Europe, including the UK.

The Google-owned platform said the ban was effective immediately though it may take some time for the block to become fully effective.

The technology giant had previously limited the ability for RT and other Russian channels to make money from advertisements that appear on videos but has extended its sanctions.

"Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we're blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately," a statement from Google Europe said.

"It'll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action."

Fellow social media platform Facebook has also blocked access to RT and Sputnik on its platform having previously also limited those channels' ability to make advertising revenue.

The change means the pages of the organisations are not visible on Facebook or Instagram in the EU, but for now, they remain visible in the UK.

Former UK deputy prime minister, Sir Nick Clegg, who is now vice president of global affairs at Facebook's parent company, Meta, said the firm had been asked by governments to take further action against Russian state-backed media.

"We have received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media," he said on Twitter on Monday night.

"Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time."