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 neighboring 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.
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.