Apple Maps: Crimea returns to Ukraine

Apple Maps: Crimea returns to Ukraine

Apple has again changed the status of Crimea in its map service. It is now clear that the Black Sea peninsula and the cities on it are listed as belonging to Ukraine again. Previously, when using the Apple Maps application outside of Russia, Crimea was included as part of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Apple’s pre-installed weather app on iPhones also maps cities like Sevastopol and Simferopol to Ukraine, sometimes with the addition of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Changes have been made to the search functionality, and the map view itself appears unchanged so far.

It is unclear whether the map service was modified after the Russian attack on Ukraine or before. A request from Apple was not answered.

When accessing Apple Maps from within Russia, Crimea has appeared as a Russian territory since 2019, and this should continue. Russia occupied Crimea, which is part of Ukraine under international law, in 2014 and then threatened map services with severe penalties for changing the nomenclature. Google Maps does not assign Crimea and the cities on it – when accessed outside Russia – to any country.

The assignment to Russia sparked heavy criticism of Apple at the end of 2019. Members of the European Parliament have complained that the group undermines international law. Apple defended the decision, saying it wanted to make sure the map service works everywhere and that the variable display is required by law in Russia. However, Apple wanted to examine “how we handle the controversial limits in our services and can make changes as a result in the future,” it said at the time.

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Earlier this week, after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Apple halted product sales in Russia and expelled Russian state broadcasters from the App Store. Services such as Apple Pay also no longer work with cards from some Russian banks. Like Google Maps, Apple Maps has turned off live traffic information for Ukraine — “as a safety precaution for Ukrainian citizens,” Apple confirmed. It seems that Crimea continues to play a special role here, since traffic jam information is currently displayed there in Apple Maps.

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