YouTube will block Russia state-owned RT and Sputnik channels immediately from being accessible in Europe, with parent company Google citing the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Google announced the move Tuesday on Twitter. “Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we’re blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately,” the internet company said. “It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action.”
For now, it appears that the primary channels for RT (4.66 million subscribers) and Sputnik (322,000 followers) remain accessible on YouTube outside of Europe.
In addition, Meta — Facebook’s parent company — announced that it was taking similar action to restrict RT and Sputnik in the EU across its apps. TikTok also restricted access from Europe to RT and Sputnik accounts on the short-form video platform, according to Russian media regulatory agency Roskomnadzor.
On Feb. 26, YouTube announced that it was blocking the ability for Kremlin-controlled media outlets, including RT, to run ads on their channels. In addition, Russian media organizations will not be able to buy ads on Google properties, including search and Gmail.
YouTube’s blocking of the two Kremlin-backed media outlets comes after the European Union on Sunday announced that it would ban RT and Sputnik across the region.
“[S]tate-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
On Tuesday, Roskomnadzor issued a statement saying that it sent letters to YouTube and TikTok “demanding that restrictions on access to the official accounts of Russian media: RT and Sputnik, introduced in Europe, be lifted immediately.” The agency complained that the moves by YouTube and TikTok represent “open censorship.”