Ukraine condemns Apple for calling Crimea part of Russia in its apps

Ukraine has denounced Apple for referring to the annexed Crimean Peninsula as a Russian territory on its apps.

The way global companies identify Crimea has been a highly sensitive issue for both countries since Kremlin-backed forces annexed the region from Ukraine in March 2014.

Ukraine and its Western allies have maintained that this move was illegal.

For users of Apple devices in Crimea, the territory is now shown as part of Russia when it is searched on the U.S. tech giant’s Weather or Map apps.

However, those same apps do not show Crimea as part of any country when it is viewed from outside of the region.

The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said in a statement on the chamber’s website on Wednesday that Apple had “fulfilled its obligations and brought the applications on its devices in compliance with the requirements of the Russian legislation.”

Apple, which has not yet released a statement about its decision, was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC Thursday morning.

“Let me explain in your terms, Apple,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said via Twitter on Wednesday.

“Imagine you’re crying out that your design and ideas, years of work and piece of your heart are stolen by your worst enemy but then smb ignorant doesn’t give a damn about your pain. That’s how it feels when you call Crimea a Russian land.”

The U.S. and European Union do not recognize Crimea as part of Russia and have imposed sanctions against individuals they believe have violated Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Shortly after the annexation of Crimea just over five years ago, a separate conflict broke out in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

Ukraine and its allies have accused Moscow of sending troops to the region and arming separatists. The Kremlin has denied this but says Russian volunteers are helping the fighters.

Former world chess champion Gary Kasparov suggested Apple’s decision to change its maps inside Crimea to make it appear as part of Russia constituted “a huge scandal.”

“Software is soft power. American tech companies should stand up for the values of innovation that made their success possible, not bow down to dictators for a little extra cash they don’t even need. Call Putin’s bluff,” Kasparov, a long-time critic of the Russian president, said via Twitter on Wednesday.

© 2019 CNBC

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