Google to block RT and Sputnik apps

The mobile apps will be removed from Play Store in Europe due to the conflict in Ukraine

Google announced its decision to remove the RT and Sputnik news apps from the Play Store on Tuesday.

The move follows an earlier action to cut the Russian state news outlets from Google’s news features, including the Google News search tool, as well as to block their channels on YouTube.

Google’s decision was made on the same day as the news apps were removed from Apple’s App Store. Since March 1, RT News and Sputnik News “are no longer available for download from the App Store outside Russia.”

RT and Sputnik broadcasts have been axed by some EU nations, with the European Commission readying a bloc-wide ban on the outlets over concerns about spreading misinformation relating to the military conflict in Ukraine.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced on Monday it would restrict EU users from accessing RT and Sputnik on its platforms after receiving “requests from a number of governments.”

Twitter will also continue labeling content from these outlets, focusing on reducing their visibility in EU countries and beyond. According to a statement cited by Reuters, the social network might also be legally required “to withhold certain content in EU member states” to comply with an order to ban Russian state outlets if such instructions are issued. 

RT’s deputy editor-in-chief Anna Belkina condemned the decision and said critics of the outlet had not “pointed to a single example, a single grain of evidence that what RT has reported over these days, and continues to report, is not true.

Russia launched an attack on Ukraine last Thursday, claiming it was necessary to demilitarize the country and put a stop to threats posed by NATO’s creeping expansion. Ukraine has accused Moscow of an unprovoked invasion, and the international community has retaliated with a range of unprecedented economic sanctions against Russia and a list of officials, intended to have a crippling impact on the Russian economy in the long-term.

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