Microsoft President & Vice Chair Brad Smith originally announced in late February that the company would be taking a four-pronged approach to its response to the Ukraine invasion, with new initiatives focused on preventing Ukraine-targeted cyberattacks, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, roadblocks related to humanitarian assistance, and harm to its own employees. In the days that followed, these initiatives reportedly succeeded at identifying and blocking a new malware package, advising the Ukrainian government regarding new phishing trends, and removing all RT and Sputnik content from its platforms.
Now Microsoft is upping the ante by cutting off Russia’s ability to purchase tech products and services crucial to its economy. Smith didn’t go into detail on which sales are of focus or whether any are exempt from the suspension, but it goes without saying that major exports like Xbox consoles, Surface devices, and Windows are among those that’ll be staying put.
While Microsoft is far from the first or only tech company to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by cutting off sales—Apple, Samsung, Nvidia, and Electronic Arts have recently done the same—it’s arguably one of the most impactful. Windows and Microsoft 365 are essential to the smooth operation of businesses around the world, including in Russia; consumers everywhere are still fighting to find the Xbox Series X more than a year after its release. (Ukrainian officials have been urging the companies behind gaming communities like that of Xbox and PlayStation to block Russian accounts and pull out of the Russian market as the invasion continues.) Microsoft’s new suspension may also impact new attempts to access or utilize Azure, a cloud computing platform integral to government and private sector functionality.
“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,” Smith said in his latest statement. “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.”
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