A hot potato: Apple has gained a reputation for kowtowing to the demands of foreign governments, usually China, but it seems Cupertino is also eager to comply with Russia. The company’s Maps and Weather apps now show the annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russian territory.
Russia occupied and annexed Crimea in 2014, but most nations still recognize it as part of Ukraine. Now, the peninsula is listed as Russian territory, though only when searched for with the apps within Russia. In other countries, Crimea is not shown as part of any country.
BBC News writes that Apple has been in talks with Russia for several months over what the State Duma—the Russian parliament’s lower house—has called an “inaccuracy.” The iPhone maker suggested showing Crimea as undefined territory, but the government wanted it listed as part of Russia.
Just checked on my phone, it's true!— Will Vernon (@BBCWillVernon) 27 November 2019
Apple has complied with Moscow’s demands to show Crimea, annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as Russian territory. Crimea & the cities of Sevastopol & Simferopol are now displayed as Rus. territory on Apple’s map & weather apps when used in Russia
“Apple fulfilled its obligations and brought the applications on its devices in compliance with the requirements of the Russian legislation,” reads the State Duma website.
Vasily Piskaryov, chairman of the Duma security and anti-corruption committee, said Apple had complied with the Russian constitution. "There is no going back," he said. "Today, with Apple, the situation is closed - we have received everything we wanted."
Back in October, Apple removed a Hong Kong protest app and Quartz news app from its store following criticism from Chinese state media. The country is Apple’s third-largest market, which goes some way to explaining the move. It’s also removed VPN apps used to circumvent China’s great firewall, and recently removed the Taiwan flag emoji from iOS keyboards in Hong Kong.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has long defended his company’s actions. “When you go into a country and participate in the market, you are subject to the laws and regulations of that country,” he said in 2017. But this latest move will doubtlessly bring a slew of criticism.