October 5, 2022

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Amazon halts AWS cloud signups in Russia and Belarus; existing customers not impacted

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Amazon has stopped taking on new cloud customers in Russia and Belarus, escalating its response to the invasion of Ukraine, but stopping short of cutting off cloud services in the countries altogether.

Company spokesman Drew Herdener attributed the decision to “current events and the uncertainty and lack of credit available in Russia right now” in a statement to the New York Timeswhich broke the story.

Microsoft, which operates the rival Azure cloud computing platform, likewise said last week that it was suspending “all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia.”

Amazon’s e-commerce business does not operate in Russia.

“Unlike other US technology providers, AWS has no data centers, infrastructure, or offices in Russia, and we have a long-standing policy of not doing business with the Russian government,” Amazon said last week.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation and Vice Prime Minister, last week appeared to Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos to cut off the company’s cloud services in Russia.

Cloud industry executives and analysts told GeekWire that such a move by major cloud providers would be crippling for companies in Russia. At the same time, it would raise thorny issues of defining a “Russian company,” and a difficult challenge of determining the best technical means of blocking access to services.

Amazon said previously that its biggest customers using AWS in Russia are headquartered elsewhere, with development teams in the country.

The New York Times reported that the change in AWS signup policy took effect over the weekend. Amazon updated its Ukraine assistance page with a note about the new policy on Tuesday after receiving an inquiry from the newspaper.

“AWS has clear terms of service where if a customer is using AWS services to threaten, incite, promote, or actively encourage violence, terrorism, or other serious harm, they will not be permitted to use our services,” Amazon said previously. “Any customer we know of who is participating in this type of behavior will have their access to AWS suspended.”

Amazon has been providing cybersecurity assistance to companies and governmental organizations in Ukraine, and supplying humanitarian relief and support to non-governmental organizations in the country.

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