Citing U.S. and European trade sanctions, Apple severs developer agreements in Crimea

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2015
Apple has begun notifying registered developers in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea that their Apple developer agreements have been terminated, effective immediately, and they may no longer sell through the App Store as the company works to comply with trade sanctions leveraged following Russia's annexation of the region.

Source: Ukrainian developer Yuri Tkachenko via Twitter
Source: Ukrainian developer Yuri Tkachenko via Twitter


"The new sanctions on the Crimea Region announced by the US Government on December 19, 2014 and announced by the European Commission on December 18, 2014 prohibit the continuation of the RAD Agreement between you and Apple," the notices read, as reported by TechCrunch. "For more information, please review Executive Order 13685 and the European Commission Notice."

Executive Order 13685, signed by President Obama in December, explicitly prohibits "the importation into the United States, directly or indirectly, of any goods, services, or technology" as well as "the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any goods, services, or technology" to and from Crimea.

The notices go on to remind developers that as part of their agreement, they must stop using and destroy all materials obtained under the program, such as pre-release software and non-public software development kits.

Crimean developers would theoretically be able to re-register for the program with a new address in the Ukraine or Russia, the publication notes, though that has yet to be confirmed. The disposition of funds that have been collected for app sales but not yet disbursed also remains unclear.

Both the U.S. and the European Union have imposed significant economic sanctions on Russia as a result of the nation's actions in Crimea. Those sanctions --?combined with the falling price of oil?-- have driven Russia's largely petroleum-based economy to the brink of failure, resulting in extreme currency swings that at one point forced Apple to halt online sales in Russia before re-opening with major price hikes.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,060member

    Nothing new here. Business always gets caught up in politics and diplomacy. It would be interesting to know if other tech companies are following suit, and if not, why not. Samsung, for example, is not a member of the European Union, nor is it an American company. If they continue to do business in Crimea could they be sanctioned by the U.S. or E.U.?

  • Reply 2 of 33
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,822member
    Seems a bit wonky. It wasn't Crimea that invaded Crimea, it was Russia, so why punish Crimeans?

    The law, not Apple, obv.
  • Reply 3 of 33

    Seems like Russia hasn't gotten over its century-long bad habit of annexation. The more fundamental criminality, though, is not having an economic system which fosters viable production of products/services other nations want to buy, thus shooting the ruble all to hell.

  • Reply 4 of 33
    danielsw wrote: »
    Seems like Russia hasn't gotten over its century-long bad habit of annexation. The more fundamental criminality, though, is not having an economic system which fosters viable production of products/services other nations want to buy, thus shooting the ruble all to hell.

    Whatever. Crimea has historically been part of Russia and the Ukraine is currently occupied by Western backed neo-nazis. Why side with literal nazis? Not that Russia in its current state is much better. But I can certainly understand not wanting to be part of the Ukraine as it is at the moment.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    If you haven't seen PBS's "Frontline" this week, check it out. An excellent profile of Putin's rise to power in all it's scary detail. A must-see for anyone who is seriously interested in world affairs.
  • Reply 6 of 33
    Crimea was historically Russian until Nikita Khurschev (the former First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party) gifted it to Ukraine when he became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR.

    By all international standards, that "gift" was not legitimate, but no one cared when a Soviet dictator took territory from one Soviet Republic (Russia) and gave it to another Soviet Republic (Ukraine). Most of the population of Crimea hated that decision, but there's nothing they could to during the years of Communist dictatorship. Additionally, both Ukraine and Russia were part of the Soviet Union, so the only real difference for the people of Crimea was that some of the signs were in the Ukrainian language, and the first channel on their cable radio receivers became Ukrainian-speaking, which was annoying, but tolerable.

    When the Soviet Union broke apart, Crimea - as part of Ukraine - became increasingly separated from Russia, and the unhappiness of the local population grew significantly. Whereas Russia was able to put its economic affairs in order starting in 2000 and got progressively more affluent, Ukraine continued to be an economic disaster, so people of Crimea felt the effect of the economic incompetence of Ukrainian leadership on their own lives.

    There's no argument here that Putin's bloodless takeover of Crimea without a single shot fired was against the international norms, but keep in mind that the majority of Crimeans welcomed Russian troops with open arms, and are very happy to no longer be part of Ukraine. Additionally, the Russian leadership knew very well that there was no international venue for them to pursue in order to have Crimea returned to Russia by diplomatic means as neither the European Union nor the United States were open to this discussion even though Ukrainian ownership of Crimea was illegal to begin with.

    Now, the fact that a software developer in Crimea, who incidentally has a Ukrainian surname, is subjected to these economic sanctions is bizarre to say the least. This kind of reaction just causes more reason for the Russians to hate Americans. There's no reason to punish people for the actions of the government of an occupying power. This particular software developer with a Ukrainian surname may very well be a supporter of Crimea being part of Ukraine. Where do you think is he going to go now? These are his options: start developing for Android, write his apps for Cydia and thus contribute into the jailbreaking community (which Apple does not approve of), or join a cyber unit of the Russian Military and start working against the interests of the Unitied States in the arena of cyber warfare. Will Apple benefit from any of these options?
  • Reply 7 of 33
    Thank you for this interesting perspective. But I still question how it is that a piece of territory separated from Russia by another country was "always" Russian. I suspect others lived there before ethnic Russians arrived.
  • Reply 8 of 33

    You can't take the crime out of Crimea.

  • Reply 9 of 33
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 550member
    Crimea wa not always separated from Russia. Even now, it's separated by a narrow straight. The Russian Empire included the modern day Ukraine, so there was no separation from Russia.

    It's true that 200 years ago, the native population of Crimea was not Russian but was rather Crimean Tartars, which themselves were a collection of different ethnicities under the control of the Ottoman Empire.

    The State of Hawaii is separated from mainland U.S. by thousands of miles, and the native population was not Caucasian Americans either. Alaska is another example of not being contiguous with mainland US. Does this mean the U.S. illegally seized these territories? Please don't consider this to be a rhetorical question.
  • Reply 10 of 33
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sirozha View Post



    The State of Hawaii is separated from mainland U.S. by thousands of miles, and the native population was not Caucasian Americans either. Alaska is another example of not being contiguous with mainland US. Does this mean the U.S. illegally seized these territories? Please don't consider this to be a rhetorical question.

     

    You might want to research the "Alaska Purchase".  tl;dr - it was legally purchased from Russia.

     

    Feel free to cite any significant historical record of international criticism when statehood was extended to the US's most recent two.

  • Reply 11 of 33
    Alaska was purchased, not seized or annexed, from Imperial Russia so is not an apt analogy. Hawaii was, in my opinion, annexed by highly questionable means, at a time when the U.S. ill-advisedly mirroring the Imperial tendencies of old-world powers such as Russia. If Hawaiians voted to secede from the U.S. I would support them. But I doubt they will.

    Had an election been held by the U.N. or other neutral body, would a majority of Crimeans have voted to re-join Russia? Not a rhetorical question.
  • Reply 12 of 33
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 550member
    That's not the point. The question was about territorial contiguity (or lack thereof) and how it relates to a legitimate claim to a certain territory.
  • Reply 13 of 33
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sirozha View Post



    That's not the point. The question was about territorial contiguity (or lack thereof) and how it relates to a legitimate claim to a certain territory.

    Was Ukraine's control of Crimea area disputed at the time of the break up of the USSR? Why is Russia just now reclaiming it? Seems like a strategic move designed to gain more control of the Black Sea.

     

    I still don't understand the logic of the sanctions though. Why sanction only Crimea developers and not likewise Russian developers if the actual dispute from the west being with Russia not Crimea?

  • Reply 14 of 33
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 550member
    That's the whole point. The vote should have been held in the UN to allow the Crimeans to decide their destiny by a referendum. Obviously, there was not a chance the UN would ever endorse such a referendum.

    By all polls, if such a referendum took place, the overwhelming majority of Crimeans would vote (or would have voted) to join Russia. However it's a moot point now that Crimea is taken over by a show of force.

    You can blame Putin or you can blame incompetent US foreign policy for this.

    Incidentally, the events in eastern Ukraine (also formerly Russian territory) demonstrate what irresponsible and incompetent foreign policy can lead to. A referendum held there with international monitors would have solved that conflict by peaceful means.

    I'm not endorsing the Russian foreign policy here, but if the majority of the population associates themselves with Russia but are forced to be part of Ukraine due to artificially drawn borders, you get what we see happening in eastern Ukraine.

    What we are witnessing in Iraq and Syria, by the way, is the same exact thing. Borders drawn artificially that divide ethnic groups into different countries eventually lead to major wars. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that divided the Pushtu people is the cause of constant war in that area as well.

    One would think that in modern-day Europe people can be allowed to decide by a democratic vote what country they want to belong to when the area in question has artificially drawn borders by a dictator.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sirozha View Post



    Borders drawn artificially that divide ethnic groups into different countries eventually lead to major wars. The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that divided the Pushtu people is the cause of constant war in that area as well.



    One would think that in modern-day Europe people can be allowed to decide by a democratic vote what country they want to belong to when the area in question has artificially drawn borders by a dictator.

    Ethnic groups need to learn to live in peace. Citizens of one region don't get a choice to redraw internationally recognized borders. That would be something that has to be agreed upon by all neighboring territories. If you asked the citizens of Cuba if they wanted to become citizens of the US, it would be a unanimous affirmative, but that doesn't mean the US can just go in and claim the territory.

  • Reply 16 of 33
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 550member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    Ethnic groups need to learn to live in peace. Citizens of one region don't get a choice to redraw internationally recognized borders. That would be something that has to be agreed upon by all neighboring territories. If you asked the citizens of Cuba if they wanted to become citizens of the US, it would be a unanimous affirmative, but that doesn't mean the US can just go in and claim the territory.




    You seriously do not think that the citizens of Cuba would unanimously decide to join the US, do you? I hope this was just a bad rhetorical comeback. 

  • Reply 17 of 33
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sirozha View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    Ethnic groups need to learn to live in peace. Citizens of one region don't get a choice to redraw internationally recognized borders. That would be something that has to be agreed upon by all neighboring territories. If you asked the citizens of Cuba if they wanted to become citizens of the US, it would be a unanimous affirmative, but that doesn't mean the US can just go in and claim the territory.




    You seriously do not think that the citizens of Cuba would unanimously decide to join the US, do you? I hope this was just a bad rhetorical comeback. 


    Ok replace unanimous with overwhelming. There are obviously two brothers who might decline, but everyone else would agree in a heartbeat. Regardless of the actual numbers surely you can draw the comparisons and see that a simple vote of Cuba's citizens does not make redrawing international borders legally justified.

  • Reply 18 of 33

    Still, I think everyone can agree that punishing Crimea (in sanctions against Russia) seems strange in this situation.

  • Reply 19 of 33
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dstarsboy View Post

     

    Still, I think everyone can agree that punishing Crimea (in sanctions against Russia) seems strange in this situation.


    Agreed. It seems like a political pawn move. "See you should not have agreed to join Russia". If the US is going to sanction Crimea developers, they should at least do the same to Russian developers. A cop-out by the west in my opinion. They don't want to apply the same sanctions to Russia because it is a much bigger deal than a token sanction against Crimea's tiny developer community.

  • Reply 20 of 33
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 550member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    Ok replace unanimous with overwhelming. There are obviously two brothers who might decline, but everyone else would agree in a heartbeat. Regardless of the actual numbers surely you can draw the comparisons and see that a simple vote of Cuba's citizens does not make redrawing international borders legally justified.




    First off, if you really conducted such a referendum - which is obviously just for this academic discussion - most likely the overwhelming majority would not want to join the US - for various reasons. I grew up in the mothership that spawned the Cuban revolution, and I am not talking out of my arse here. Secondly, the US has no territorial claims to Cuba (hopefully), so this example is just a bad rhetorical comeback on your part. Let's admit this and move on, shall we? 

     

    The situation in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is quite different. Russia has claims to those territories due to the fact that they belonged to Russia for centuries before the communists redrew the borders. The eastern Ukraine, where horrible hostilities are going on right now, used to be called Novorussia, which literally translates to New Russia. The population there gravitated toward Russia rather than toward Ukraine by absolute majority - probably over 90% wanted to be part of Russia, but we will never know this for sure anymore because the population is now displaced by the horrible military attacks occurring directly on the population centers. The population of eastern Ukraine was NOT majority ethnically Russian; instead, the population consisted of ethnic groups of various backgrounds (including Russians) that mixed together and formed a unique ethnicity. However, they spoke Russian as their native tongue (with a distinct dialect) and they gravitated politically and economically toward Russia. The same dialect of Russian is spoken on the Russian side of the current Ukraine-Russian border as well as in southern Russia. All of this area used to form Novorussia. The name Novorussia was not in use during the Soviet times, but it has now been resurrected by the rebels in eastern Ukraine. Incidentally, there is a city in southern Russia by the name of Novorossiysk, which means "a city in New Russia", and it's a stone throw from Crimea. 

     

    Who is at fault is not going to be established it in this forum, but eastern Ukraine no longer exists as it did less than a year ago - not population wise. Most eastern Ukrainians are now refugees in Russia, and thousands of them are dead now by direct hits onto their apartments, houses, bus stops, shops, schools, streets, etc. by the Ukrainian army's incessant bombardments of civilian areas in major eastern Ukrainian cities. So, you can blame Putin all you want for the peaceful takeover of Crimea without a single shot fired, but you for some reason do not want to see that millions of innocent civilians (Ukrainian citizens) are now displaced, hundreds of thousands (including children) suffer from PTSD, tens of thousands are maimed for life, and thousands (including hundreds of children) are now dead due to the actions of the Ukrainian military that is trying to put down the revolt in that part of Ukraine and making no distinction between civilians and militants. 

     

    And, to my initial point, if Apple really wants to join sanctions against Russia, instead of punishing an innocent iOS developer in Crimea, Apple should close shop in Russia. They won't do it because it hurts their bottom line, which is unfortunate.

     

    I'm not an Apple hater. I'm all Apple, and hold a significant number of Apple stock. I'm just looking at this decision as a completely asinine move by the Apple's PR. 

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