Netflix, With About 1 Million Russian Users, Pulls Plug Over Invasion

Popular streaming platform Netflix, which has around 1 million users in Russia, suspended its service in the country on Sunday in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia," a spokesperson for Netflix said, according to Variety. Netflix launched its services in the country in 2016.

The suspension means that new users in Russia will not be able to sign up for accounts starting Monday and current Netflix users can only use their accounts until the end of their current billing cycle, Politico reported. Users will also have their accounts temporarily suspended until the situation in Ukraine changes.

Netflix, which operated in the country as a joint venture with National Media Group, previously announced that it will not continue with projects and acquisitions from Russia, including four Russian original programs that were in the production phase, according to Bloomberg. The company also said that it will not continue carrying required Russian news channels on its local language service.

On February 26, Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who is also the country's minister of digital transformation, called on the CEO of Netflix to block its service in Russia in an effort to pressure the country to halt its attacks. Fedorov also called on the CEOs of Google, YouTube, Apple, and PayPal to restrict or limit the services they offer to Russia.

"I asked YouTube to block the Russian propaganda media, which call us Nazis and drug addicts, lie and promote war. Asked Meta to block Facebook and Instagram. I asked Netflix to block the service in Russia," he said in a Facebook post.

Also on Sunday, social media platform TikTok announced that it will halt livestreaming and the ability to upload new content in light of the country's new "fake news" law.

"We have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law. Our in-app messaging service will not be affected," the company said on Twitter.

The new law, which was signed by President Vladimir Putin on Friday, criminalizes the distribution of "fake news" about the country's military. Those who break the law could face up to 15 years in prison. The legislation prohibits information that "discredits the use of the Russian Armed Forces," according to State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.

Other companies that announced that they will suspend their operations include credit card company American Express, and fashion businesses Zara and Puma. PayPal also shut down its services.

On Saturday, Visa and Mastercard also suspended its operations and said that credit cards issued by Russian banks using their payment systems will stop functioning overseas after March 9, according to Reuters.

Newsweek contacted Netflix for comments and will update the story once a response is received.

The story has been updated to include additional information.

Netflix, With around 1 Million Russian Users
Netflix is suspending its service in Russia in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine. Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images