Update 2 – NY Times quote (below) added November 28, 2019

Update » TechCrunch (below) states both Google and Apple show the Crimean peninsula as part of Russian territory.

Russian-backed armed forces forcibly invaded the Crimean peninsula and seized the territory from Ukraine. They are actively at war in Crimea, killing Ukrainians.

Increasingly, foreign powers have been able to dictate how large American companies operate.


Russian forces annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, drawing international condemnation.

The region, which has a Russian-speaking majority, is now shown as Russian territory on Apple Maps and its Weather app, when viewed from Russia.

But the apps do not show it as part of any country when viewed elsewhere.

The Mercury News » Ukraine slams Apple for labeling Crimea part of Russia in apps 

Ukraine said on Wednesday Apple did not “give a damn” about its pain, after the U.S. tech giant began referring to the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russia in its Maps and Weather apps for Russian users.

Russia and Ukraine have both been highly sensitive to the way global companies identify Crimea, since Russian troops seized the territory and Moscow annexed it after a referendum that Kiev and its Western allies say was illegal.

Devin Coldewey, writing for TechCrunch »

Global politics are difficult to navigate ordinarily, but in times of conflict companies that aim to provide an unbiased service, such as a map or search function, may have to come down on one side or another. Apple just came down at least partly on the side of Russia in its controversial annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and Google has accommodated Russian interests as well.


While the controversy surrounding these events are ongoing (indeed, the events themselves are too, in a way), companies like Apple and Google don’t have the luxury of waiting for history’s judgment to do things like update their maps.

Both, for instance, until recently labeled locations in Crimea as being part of Ukraine. But Russia has made official complaints to the companies and warned them that it is considered a criminal act to refer to Crimea as other than a Russian territory. Now both companies have made concessions to Russian demands.

Andrew Higgins, writing in the NY Times »

“Our situation with Apple has now been resolved,” Vasily Piskaryov, the chairman of the security and anticorruption committee of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said on Wednesday. “We see that everything has happened the way we wanted it.”


Leonid Levin, the head of the Duma’s Information Policy Committee, told the news agency that Apple “has demonstrated a wish to preserve and develop its position on the Russia market.” He added that the company’s decision “to bring the state of its cartographic services into compliance with the requirements of the legislation of Russia can only be welcomed.”

Ukraine Foreign Minister, Vadym Prystaiko on Twitter »

More » The Verge, CBC, Engadget, The Mac Observer