While Ukraine has been victim of a Russian invasion for now several weeks, the Tech giants have their own way to show their support. Indeed, Apple and Samsung have suspended the sale of products in Russia, Microsoft and Oracle have done the same for their software and services, Google, Snapchat and Facebook have stopped marketing advertisements, Paypal has stopped online payments and Tiktok has halted the creation of videos in Russia… It is therefore a real snowball effect that is taking place.
Now, whether this is a demonstration of real support for Ukraine, or a bow to a homogenising pressure out of fear of being the only company not to take action, is a question that remains unanswered.
Nevertheless, this exodus is unprecedented in its scope and speed, underlines Jérôme Marin in his most recent article (Cafétech).
A strong symbolic gesture, but an easy move
For some companies, the decision to leave Russia was to some extent made easier by the fact that the market represents only a tiny part of their business. For example, Russia accounts for one million subscribers out of 222 millions for Netflix. Same for Apple, for whom Russian sales account for only about 1% of its turnover. We can push the analysis further to Google and Facebook.
The absence of reaction from Chinese companies
The quick reaction of Occidental companies contrasts with that of Chinese companies, highlights Jerôme Marin. Indeed, there is no mention at all of the Russian invasion from Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei, Lenovo or Xiaomi, and none of them have officially left the country.
These companies are thus accused of supporting Russia in western markets. But as Dan Wang, an analyst at Gavenkal Dragonomics, explains: “The Russian market remains too small to justify such a risk”.
Is quitting Russia a mistake?
For David Kaye, law professor and former UN special rapporteur on free expression, it would be a mistake for tech companies to completely quit Russia. Why is that? Because Russian citizens, activists and journalists make a productive use of social media to expose Russians and the world to information beyond government propaganda. However, they also expose themselves to severe sanctions by doing so.
 Marin, Jérôme. “Pourquoi Les Géants De La Tech Quittent La Russie.” Cafétech, 8 Mar. 2022, https://cafetech.fr/2022/03/07/pourquoi-les-geants-de-la-tech-quittent-la-russie/.
Marin, Jérôme. “Pourquoi Les Géants De La Tech Quittent La Russie.” Cafétech, 8 Mar. 2022, https://cafetech.fr/2022/03/07/pourquoi-les-geants-de-la-tech-quittent-la-russie/.
Ovide, Shira. “Should Tech Stay or Go in Russia?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 Mar. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/02/technology/russia-tech-companies.html.
Huet, Natalie. “These Tech Companies Are All Shunning Russia over the Ukraine War.” Euronews, 10 Mar. 2022, https://www.euronews.com/next/2022/03/07/which-tech-companies-are-cutting-ties-with-russia-over-its-war-in-ukraine.