Following sanctions against Russia, Google is now also blocking paid app updates in Belarus

Belarusian residents will no longer get security updates and new features for apps they purchased

Russia has been heavily sanctioned internationally ever since it started its attack on Ukraine, but it couldn’t have made such strides in the first few weeks of the offensive if it wasn’t for Belarus. The Russian military used the small country as a launchpad for the attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, after having performed week-long military drills on Belarussian ground before. The US and the European Union have both quickly sanctioned the Russian neighbor for its role, and now Google is also acting to impose similar restrictions on the Belarussian population as it had on Russians, limiting access to paid-for apps.


In an update to its Google Play billing help article regarding Russia, parts of which are pictured above, Google has now included Belarus as another sanctioned party. The text that previously only focused on Russian users now reads, “As part of our compliance efforts, Google Play is blocking the downloading of paid apps and updates to paid apps in Russia and Belarus.” This means that security and feature updates for purchased applications will no longer arrive for Google users in either country. However, it seems like Belarus isn’t as heavily sanctioned as Russia, as “in-app purchases or subscriptions within free apps are not blocked” for them.

Like Russians, Belarusians are still able to download and update free apps from the Play Store, though. Publishers and app developers who provide critical services or key uncensored information are encouraged to offer their apps for free or to remove paid subscriptions during the payment “pause,” as Google calls it.

The move to restrict access to paid apps in Belarus is likely a further step for Google to comply with US sanctions, though the company hasn’t made that explicit in its help page. It’s the latest measure in line of a number of activities, including the removal of payment options for Russian users from March 10, all while Russia is launching counter-offensives like blocking Google News in the country over “inauthentic” war coverage.

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