Microsoft has announced it is to suspend all new sales of its products and services into Russia, making it the latest, and so far largest, technology company to withdraw from the market as a direct result of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Microsoft said it was working “in lockstep” with the US and UK governments, and the European Union (EU) to stop “many aspects” of its Russian business in accordance with new sanctions against Russia.
“Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine, and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia,” said Microsoft president and vice-chair Brad Smith in a statement explaining the decision.
“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,” he said.
Smith went on to explain that Microsoft’s most impactful area of work is the protection of Ukraine’s cyber security, and that it has been working – and continues to work – with Ukrainian officials to defend against attacks from Russia-linked actors.
In the past eight days, he said, Microsoft’s security teams have acted against Russian “positioning, destructive or disruptive measures” on more than 20 government, IT and financial services organisations, and defended against a number of cyber attacks targeting civilian sites.
Additionally, it has raised concerns that some of these attacks may violate the Geneva Convention.
Elsewhere, Redmond’s Philanthropies and UN Affairs teams have been assisting the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and various UN agencies to provide technological support for vast numbers of Ukrainian refugees crossing the country’s borders into neighbouring EU states. Where needed, it has also been working to thwart cyber attacks on such groups.
“As a company, we are committed to the safety of our employees in Ukraine and we are in constant contact with them to offer support in many forms, including those who have needed to flee for their lives or safety,” said Smith. “Like so many others, we stand with Ukraine in calling for the restoration of peace, respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and the protection of its people.”
Microsoft’s withdrawal from Russia follows similar measures enacted by software giants SAP and Oracle, both of which announced on Thursday 3 March that they would be quitting the country.
“Like the rest of the world, we are watching the war in Ukraine with horror and condemn the invasion in the strongest possible terms,” said SAP CEO Christian Klein. “An act as inhumane and unjustified as this is an attack on democracy and humanity. Its consequences affect us all.”
SAP has additionally made a substantial donation in humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine, and has offered to convert office space into warehousing and accommodation for refugees.
In the security arena, a number of organisations have offered their services to organisations in Ukraine to shore up their defences against targeted intrusions.
To date, the cyber dimension of the war beyond Ukraine’s borders has not been as impactful as many had predicted, being mostly limited to misinformation and propaganda operations. There have also been a growing number of malicious actors leveraging the Ukraine war in their phishing lures.