Google is officially leaving Russia

Google is officially done with Russia, after the government seized its local bank accounts and made continuing operations there impossible. 

“The Russian authorities’ seizure of Google Russia’s bank account has made it untenable for our Russia office to function, including employing and paying Russia-based employees, paying suppliers and vendors, and meeting other financial obligations,” Google said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal

Most of Google’s employees in Russia have already left the country, following its invasion of Ukraine, and will continue to work from elsewhere. Sources told the WSJ that many will work from Dubai, where Google has a large office. 

A Russian court froze Google’s bank account in March, which spurred the company to begin planning an official – and final – exit. A bailiff for the court transferred the funds out of the bank account, meaning Google can no longer pay staff and suppliers. It is unclear clear how much was seized. 

Google’s subsidiary will eventually declare bankruptcy in Russia, according to a regulatory filing, as it can no longer make payments

In March, Google ceased selling ads in Russia on Search, YouTube, and outside partners’ websites, following similar announcements from Twitter and Snap. US sanctions have made business impossible in Russia for Western companies. 

A virtual minefield 

Even as its business operations come to a close, Google says it plans to continue offering its free services – such as YouTube, Search, Maps, and Gmail – to Russia internet users. 

YouTube in particular has come under intense pressure from the Russian government, which sought certain content to be banned from the service. Russia has yet to completely block YouTube, which is popular in the country. 

Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine has made the country a pariah in the West, as oligarchs, politicians, and officials come under extensive sanctions from the US and EU. 

Western companies, such as Meta and Apple, have been impacted by the war and have chosen to stop offering their products and services in Russia. 

Google has so far been fined 11 million rubles, around $170,000, for allegedly spreading inaccurate information via YouTube. 

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