'The world is connected': Silicon Valley pulls products, cuts service and restricts access to Russia

Netflix, Uber and many more are making it harder for people in Russia to access some of the world's most widely used technologies.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- From social media platforms to software companies, Silicon Valley companies are standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

A number of high-tech companies are pulling products, cutting services and restricting access to Russia.

Companies including Netflix, Uber, Cisco and many more are making it harder for people in Russia to access some of the world's most widely used technologies. All are designed to connect the globe.

TAKE ACTION: Local and national support for people in Ukraine

"It's not intended to destroy lives and freedom," Nick Bilogorskiy with the South Bay non-profit Nova Ukraine told ABC7 News. "And it's not intended to be used by Russia as a war machine or propaganda machine."

Bilogorskiy said that's the motivation behind Saturday's planned rally at San Jose City Hall. Part of the messaging will be aimed at thanking companies that have already taken action.

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Apple is pausing the sale of physical products in Russia, among other things. Google is helping to defend against Russian cybersecurity threats. Airbnb is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus, and is offering free housing to Ukrainians forced to leave.

"What we think we can do is provide housing for up to 100,000 refugees," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said. "But to be honest, we can provide housing for as many people as we have hosts for."

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Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion is highlighting how critical tech companies are in times of conflict.

"The world is connected. You cannot go anywhere in the world without seeing the same product, the same lingo, the same influencers," San Jose State University tech expert, Ahmed Banafa told ABC7 News. "And now you come and act like this, and you think you can just live without the world? You cut yourself completely out of it. You cannot survive."

Banafa said Silicon Valley innovation is, in a sense, another weapon being used today.

Ukrainian tech workers living in Silicon Valley said cutting off Russia's access will take away tools needed to wage war.

"Stops that money flow to them," Bay Area resident Denys Mamrak shared. "They can't return in bombing and shelling to Ukrainian citizens, Ukrainian people."

"My first impulse was to go back to Ukraine and fight there. I felt that I have to be there. But then I realized that I'm not military training," he continued. "I was never a military service, and most likely I will be a burden. I won't be useful at all."

Mamrak may not be fighting on the physical front lines, but he's finding purpose in attending anti-war rallies and donating to humanitarian aid resources.

The software engineer has been a Bay Area resident for five years. However, he explained his family is still back in Ukraine.

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"I wish I could say that they are safe, but they're not. Currently, there is no safe place in Ukraine," he said.

Mamrak added, "It's a horrible thing to hear when you call your friends on the phone, and hear some explosions in the background."

Saturday's event at San Jose City Hall begins at 2 p.m.

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