Apple: Crimea as Part of Russia following Kremlin Complaints

Apple: Crimea as Part of Russia following Kremlin Complaints

The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Apple has changed its portrayal of the Crimean Peninsula on its apps, which now label the area as part of Russia when viewed from inside Russia.

In 2014 Russia moved to annex Crimea from Ukraine, and Russian-backed separatists began fighting a war against Ukraine in the country’s eastern region. The war has continued to the present day. The U.S. and European Union have not recognized the annexation and have imposed sanctions against individuals believed to be involved in violating Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.

“Crimea and Sevastopol are now displayed as the territory of Russia on Apple devices,” read a Wednesday announcement from the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament.

Vasilii Piskarev, the chairman of Russia’s Committee on Security and Corruption Control, said in the announcement that his committee was instrumental in the “protection of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the sovereignty of our country from foreign interference.” Piskarev said the change on Apple apps was in compliance with the Russian Constitution.

Apple has not yet commented on the decision. Outside of Russia, Crimea still appears as part of Ukraine.

Apple has faced scrutiny over its business interests in China. The company reportedly removed an emoji of the Taiwanese flag from iOS systems in Hong Kong, and already does not show the flag in mainland China. Executives also removed an app that allowed Hong Kong protesters to track police movements.

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) leveled harsh criticism at the company during a November 5 Senate subcommittee hearing.

“Apple’s investments in Chinese production have helped build the scientific and manufacturing capacity or America’s greatest geopolitical rival,” Hawley said. “If you’ve got family in China or business contacts there, you cannot count on iMessage encryption to keep your interactions secure from Chinese authorities, and if you’re a Uighur or a Chinese dissident or a protestor in Hong Kong, Apple’s corporate values won’t do much to protect you.”

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