PayPal, Netflix, Others, Blocked Their Services In Russia Over The Weekend

Russia continues to receive sanctions and face actions all aimed at making the country stop its attack on Ukraine. As the Russia-Ukraine conflict enters the second week, not only has the company received quite an avalanche of sanctions, companies around the world have stopped operating in the country. Google took off Russia Today and Sputnik from its Play Store, so did Apple. Google had already blocked the YouTube channels of Russia Today and Sputnik before it announced the removal of their apps on its Play Store platform. A statement from an Apple spokesperson said, “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. And we have disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens”. Visa and Mastercard also took off Russian financial institutions from their networks. Together, they also promised $2 million towards humanitarian relief funds for Ukraine. Airbnb, which is providing refuge for Ukrainians who need it also suspended its operations in Russia.

On Saturday, global payments giants PayPal joined the list of companies that have taken action against Russia. The company announced the suspension of its services in Russia. The company’s CEO – Dan Schulman wrote in a letter addressed to the Ukrainian government that “Under the current circumstances, we are suspending PayPal services in Russia.”

Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation – Mykhailo Fedorov have been urging companies around the world to cut ties with Russia. He urged cryptocurrency platforms, social media companies, and even financial companies to take action against Russia. Following PayPal’s decision to block Russia from its platform, the government official tweeted on Saturday “So now it’s official: PayPal shuts down its services in Russia citing Ukraine aggression. “Thank you @PayPal for your supporting!”

A spokesperson from PayPal also confirmed the company’s decision. PayPal will “continue work to process customer withdraws for a period of time, ensuring that account balances are dispersed in line with applicable laws and regulations,” the spokesperson said.

Back in 2020, PayPal halted its domestic services in Russia and its latest announcement refers to its remaining businesses operating in Russia – its send and receive functions as well as its Xoom remittances platform which enables people to make international transfers. Following the new action, Russian can no longer open new PayPal accounts.

All these actions lead to one thing which is blocking Russia from the global financial network. Russia is already blocked from accessing SWIFT, the global interbank messaging network and this puts the Russian economy at risk. The country’s currency is already starting to lose value.

Global streaming service Netflix also announced over the weekend that it was halting its service in Russia following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The move follows a growing list of companies around the world that are taking action against Russia by halting their services in the country.

A Russian spokesperson mentioned on Sunday that “Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia.” Compared to other companies with big numbers in Russia, the halting of its service in Russia may not be a big deal.

While Netflix has over 200 million paid memberships around the world, its total number of subscribers in Russia is less than a million. This is a very small chunk of its total numbers. Netflix has also stopped its acquisitions and projects in Russia after the country invaded Ukraine. Its four Russian-language series both in production and post-production stages were halted. The company also refused to carry news channels as per Russian rules.

Disney isn’t left out from the actions against Russia. Disney, a big Rival for Netflix, also announced last week that it was pausing all film debuts in Russia including its Pixar film Turning Red. Other film companies are also following the directive. Sony paused all film releases in Russia including imminent Marvel’s Morbius. Warner Bros has also done the same and will not be debuting the upcoming Batman Movie in the country.

Big tech company Microsoft also said it was suspending new sales in Russia. In a blog post dated 4th of March, 2022 and written by President and Vice Chairman Brad Smith, the company said that “Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia…We are announcing today that we will suspend all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia.”

“In addition, we are coordinating closely and working in lockstep with the governments of the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, and we are stopping many aspects of our business in Russia in compliance with governmental sanctions decisions. We believe we are most effective in aiding Ukraine when we take concrete steps in coordination with the decisions being made by these governments and we will take additional steps as this situation continues to evolve. Our single most impactful area of work almost certainly is the protection of Ukraine’s cybersecurity. We continue to work proactively to help cybersecurity officials in Ukraine defend against Russian attacks, including most recently a cyberattack against a major Ukrainian broadcaster,” it added.

The following are other companies that have stopped their operations in Russia. Computer software company Oracle has joined the increasing list of companies shutting down operations in Russia. On the 2nd of March, shoe brand Nike suspended operations in the country and promised to close physical stores. Adidas announced that it was going to cut partnerships with Russian soccer teams. Although its stores are still open in the country, Puma paused online deliveries. IKEA halted operations in Russia and Belarus. The shopping centre Mega will stay open so residents can have access “to their daily needs and essentials such as food, groceries and pharmacies,” it said.

A handful of other companies are taking action against Russia and the list continues to grow.

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