Apple is facing a backlash from Ukraine after marking the disputed territory of Crimea as a part of Russia in its apps for Russian users.
CNN reporters in Russia on Thursday confirmed that Apple’s map app lists cities in Crimea, such as Sevastopol, as being in Russia. Apple Maps also shows a border between the rest of Ukraine and Crimea — and no border at the Kerch Strait, between Russia and Crimea.
For users outside of Russia, Crimea appears as part of Ukraine in Apple Maps, and without a country designation when searching in the weather app.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 after a popular uprising unseated Ukraine’s pro-Russian president. Violence continues in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian soldiers. Ukraine and its western backers, including the United States, say Russia’s annexation of Crimea was illegal and have imposed economic sanctions, including freezing assets and restricting trade.
The Russian parliament had been pressuring Apple for months to change how Crimea was portrayed in its apps and to fall in line with a law that sets out rules for “assigning or using the names of geographical objects.”
On Wednesday, the parliament announced that an Apple representative had informed one of its committees that “inaccurate” displays of the Republic of Crimea had been “finally removed” in line with the requirements of Russian legislation.
Ukrainian officials slammed Apple. Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said in a series of tweets that the company should “stick to high-tech and entertainment. Global politics is not your strong side. “
An Apple spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
But the company is not alone in apparently complying with Russian demands to redraw the map of the region. Google Maps viewed in Russia also shows a border between Crimea and Ukraine. Outside of Russia, users see a dotted line marking that border, compared with a solid black line that separates other countries.
“We make every effort to objectively depict the disputed regions, and where we have local versions of Google Maps, we follow local legislation when displaying names and borders,” a Google spokesperson said.
The United States has backed Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, giving the country hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid. But the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is now probing whether nearly $400 million in military and security aid to Ukraine was held up while Trump encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The money was eventually released but only after a whistleblower filed a complaint against Trump over his phone calls with Zelensky. Trump has denied there was a quid pro quo.
-— Nathan Hodge in Moscow contributed to this article.