Crimea and the Cook Doctrine

Each country in the world decides their laws and their regulations, and so your choice is: Do you participate? Or do you stand on the sideline and yell at how things should be? You get in the arena, because nothing ever changes from the sideline.” — Apple CEO Tim Cook, 2017

From Andrew Higgins’ “Apple, Bowing to Russian Pressure, Recognizes Crimea Annexation on Map” in Thursday’s New York Times.

Since it grabbed Crimea from Ukraine five years ago, Russia has made no headway in getting the United States or the European Union to recognize the annexed Black Sea peninsula as Russian.

But Russia’s Parliament is now rejoicing at getting at least Apple to fall partly into line. When viewed from inside Russia, Apple apps show Crimea as part of the Russian Federation and separated from Ukraine by an international border.

apple maps crimea cook doctrine
Google Maps

This means that Apple has joined Google, Yandex and some other technology companies in redrawing Ukraine’s borders to satisfy Moscow’s territorial claims, at least for customers viewing their maps on devices inside Russia. Viewed on devices outside Russia, Crimea remains part of Ukraine…

“Our situation with Apple has now been resolved,” Vasily Piskaryov, the chairman of the security and anticorruption committee of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said on Wednesday. “We see that everything has happened the way we wanted it.”

Ukraine protested Apple’s cave-in to Russia, with its foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, writing on Twitter that the company should “stick to high-tech and entertainment” and stay out of politics. “Global politics is not your strong side,” he said.

My take: The tech megacaps are the new nation states. They draw the borders to serve their needs.


  1. David Drinkwater said:
    I think I’ll stick to more immediate and contentious topics, like: “who gets the drumsticks?”

    November 28, 2019
  2. David Emery said:
    I am puzzled by those who think it’s OK for companies to decide which laws they will and will not obey. (I’m even more puzzled by those who think there will be no consequences to a company when it decides to disobey a country’s laws.)

    November 28, 2019
  3. Gregg Thurman said:
    Since man first defined HIS territory, boundaries have been in a constant state of flux.

    A European map from 1819 is almost unrecognizable from today’s maps, and change didn’t stop there.

    Post WWI saw massive realignments of European and Middle Eastern maps. Post WWII saw even more, including the creation of nations (Israel) that didn’t previously exist. The collapse of the Soviet Union saw more, including the disappearance of Yugoslavia and the creation of Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia.

    Defining Crimea as part of Russia is a non-event, especially when you consider that the population there mostly identifies as Russian.

    The world would be far more peaceful if we recognized ethic distributions vs colonial definitions of “countries”.

    November 28, 2019
  4. Gregg Thurman said:
    More importantly, it’s proof that, once again, Russians live in a propaganda bubble.

    Or like the Alsace, Sudetenland, western Czechoslovakia and West Virginia, territories sharing common ethnic, political beliefs were absorbed/split off/returned to their prior identities.

    November 28, 2019
  5. Steven Noyes said:

    “My take: The tech megacaps are the new nation states. They draw the borders to serve their needs.”

    I generally find your comments well thought out and established. I don’t always agree but they come from solid reasoning.

    Not this one. Calling the tech mega caps “new nation states” is … what word am I looking for … wrong.

    For 10,000+ years, borders and territories have been changing and there is no reason to think the current nations of the world will stop changing behavior anytime soon. After WWII, it almost seems the U.S. and E.U. collectively said: “The game is over!!!” New maps were drawn and the hope was they would stay the same for all time or simply dissolve away.

    But we have found holding tribal groups of 10’s or 100’s of millions together is very very difficult.

    Equating the mega cap tech companies to companies like the United Fruit Company is a true dis-service to your readers. They are multi-national companies trying to play in a sand box with billions of individuals each living within their own associate tribe of millions. Not everyone will be happy with every decision and some will vehemently disagree. It is reasonable to disagree with their decision but calling these companies “nation states”? Seriously?

    November 29, 2019
    • Not a fully thought out take, I’ll admit. I was thinking about something I read about Amazon — that it was richer and more powerful than most nation states and too big to govern.

      November 29, 2019

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