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Microsoft suspends sales in Russia amid mass tech boycott

Russia is also limiting its citizens’ access to apps that are in any way supporting Ukraine

Microsoft has become the latest tech giant to suspend sales in Russia, following similar steps made by Apple, Cisco, SAP, AMD, Intel, and TSMC.

The Windows and Teams provider had previously only been involved in disrupting the Russian and Belarusian cyber attacks on Ukraine, having discovered a brand-new strain of malware called FoxBlade on 28 February.

However, the company has now decided to extend its stance on the conflict by suspending “all new sales of Microsoft products and services” as an act of condemnation of the Russian government’s actions.

Microsoft president and vice-chair Brad Smith said that the company is “horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine” and described the invasion as “unjustified, unprovoked, and unlawful”.

The company said it is also providing technology and financial support for Ukrainian NGOs, while continuing to defend from ongoing cyber attacks.

“Since the war began, we have acted against Russian positioning, destructive or disruptive measures against more than 20 Ukrainian government, IT, and financial sector organisations," Smith stated in a company blog post.

We have also acted against cyberattacks targeting several additional civilian sites. We have publicly raised our concerns that these attacks against civilians violate the Geneva Convention."

A number of other tech companies have pulled out of Russia over the weekend. Oracle, for example, announced the suspension of “all ​​operations in the Russian Federation”, following an appeal from Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov.

SAP CEO Christian Klein stated that the enterprise software provider had paused “all sales of SAP services and products in Russia”. “allocated an initial €1 million in humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine”, as well as offered to convert its European office spaces into “warehousing and accommodation for refugees”.

On Sunday, Fedorov issued a plea to Amazon founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos requesting that the company stop providing its services in Russia. Although CEO Andy Jassy stated that the company is supporting Ukrainian NGOs and companies with “cash donations” and “cyber security assistance”, AWS is still available in Russia, where it enjoys a 40% share of the cloud computing market. 

Russian retaliation

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Amid mass sanctions and tech boycotts, Russia is also limiting its citizens’ access to apps that are in any way supporting Ukraine. On Sunday, the Russian government announced plans to block walkie-talkie service Zello for failing to block messages with “false information” about the invasion of Ukraine. Zello is an app often used in crisis situations due to its wide range of compatible networks, including 2G and 3G.

On Friday, the government also blocked Facebook, as well as heavily-restricted access to Twitter. 

Meta’s president of global affairs Nick Clegg said that the move would cut off “millions of ordinary Russians” from accessing “reliable information”. 

“We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organise for action,” he added.

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