Earlier this week, the streaming service had announced that it would pause all future projects and acquisitions from Russia, joining a growing list of companies that have cut ties with the country. Netflix had four Russian originals in the works, including a crime thriller series directed by Dasha Zhuk, which was shooting and has since been put on hold. Netflix also recently refused to carry 20 Russian free-to-air propaganda channels that it was required to host under Russian law.
Now, the company is taking an additional step in shutting down its service entirely.
“Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” a spokesperson for Netflix said.
The economic blowback that Russia has faced in the wake of its decision to go to war with Ukraine has been intense. Not only is the country grappling with extensive sanctions, but many corporations and organizations have pulled out of Russia. Companies like Microsoft, Apple and Dell have announced that they have suspended sales in the country, while Ikea has closed stores and Nike has said it will no longer fulfill online orders. On the entertainment front, all of the major studios have announced they will stop releasing their films in Russia.
Netflix is somewhat of a newcomer to Russia. It launched its service in 2016 and has a relatively small presence, with roughly one million subscribers. The streamer boasts 222 million subscribers globally. It operates through a service provider agreement with Russia’s National Media Group.
Netflix also recently announced that it would make its 2015 documentary “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” available to watch for free. The non-fiction film centers on the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, which were sparked by former president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision not to sign an agreement with the European Union and instead choose to strengthen ties to Russia. Those protests ultimately resulted in Yanukovych’s ouster. It also exacerbated tensions with Russia, with Vladimir Putin using the overthrow as a pretext for invading and annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.
Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has caused a humanitarian and refugee crisis, along with increasing fears that it could trigger a nuclear conflict.