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Apple changes Crimea map when viewed from Russia (bbc.co.uk)
428 points by mzs on Nov 27, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 295 comments

This happens pretty much everywhere with every online map. Kashmir, Taiwan, Western Sahara, etc. etc. Apple doing it for one country is not particularly news.

The only major-league mapping site I know that doesn't do local alterations is OpenStreetMap, and that's because OSM's attitude is "you want the map to show something else? sure, download the raw data and host your own instance".

Only organizations that need to operate under the graces of an authority (for reasons of physical or financial security) are beholden to that authority. A volunteer organization in US (or wherever OSM is) has nothing to lose to Russia, India, China, etc.

Russia, China, etc could still block OSM at a firewall if they choose.

> A volunteer organization in US (or wherever OSM is)

The OpenStreetMap Foundation, which supports the OpenStreetMap project, and owns the domain name, trademarks & hardware, is registered in England & Wales

I think the real reason is that OSM is, practically speaking, not important enough for countries to bother with censoring it.

Public Data should be open and anyone can run their own policies on integrating crowdsourced changes.

One company hosting the data centrally is responsible for dealing with multiple parties and figuring out a resolution. Often the parties have little recourse but to fine it or block it.

We see similar issues when Facebook is blasted by Germany for not censoring a post and by the Trump administration for censoring a similar post. The guys in their boiler room use Google Translate to see if a post in another language is offensive, which is ironic since Facebook is using a Google tool internally.

A more pointed example is when the SESTA / FOSTA bill was passed last year to require platforms to police child pornography being posted and the EFF and other free speech advocates were actually up in arms about it, saying that puts undue burdens on facebook and other platforms which are far too big.

The problem is why are they too big? Because they run all the software and don’t give it to us. And open source software isn’t good enough to compete with what they have. Look at HN, it is able to add whatever rules it needs to police stuff, and runs on Arc.

That’s why Wordpress, Magento, OSM are so important. Eventually they will copy everything the centralized players have and you can CUSTOMIZE them with a marketplace of plugins. Like how the Web replaced AOL.

We need REAL open source alternatives to facebook. What are they today?

>We need REAL open source alternatives to facebook. What are they today?

GNU Social/Mastodon is by far the most widespread today. It's more like Twitter. (Mastodon is a more modern implementation of the GNU Social protocol, which in turn is the descendent of the Identica mess.)

There was also Diaspora, but that never really caught on.

They are too big because they lock in your social graph. This has very little to do with open source vs proprietary software. FB could be entirely open source, but so long as it's as popular as it is, and there's no way to interact with its users other than joining FB yourself, it's going to remain a monopoly.

To break it up, you need to force them into providing outside access. If and when people can run e.g. Diaspora, but seamlessly interact with people on Facebook, Diaspora would become a lot more popular. Think of email, or XMPP and Matrix federation.

Or we can just break them up physically, on the basis that no single entity should control that much of the market, and have that much dominance.

I find this argument pretty funny, because despite all the borders if you look at Crimea on OSM, it looks Russian alright: cities have Ukrainian spelling on the Ukraine part of the map and Russian on the Crimea.

IIRC OSM's attitude is "map what's on the ground", so if people in Crimea believe they are in Russia that's what OSM should show.

To that end, there are proposals for OSM to handle disputed boundaries.


The idea is that OSM captures the multiple views of the boundary in dispute, allowing the user to choose their rendering.

Whilst good in theory, it's probably not different to other's approach in practise. Thinking people can choose to see a boundary as disputed, whilst nationalists on either side can choose to see it as soley theirs, thus amplifying their own echo chamber. The main difference from others is that the choice of rendering is potentially up to the individual, due to the availability of all the data, but in practise most people will be using a provider who has already made the choice for them.

Those "disputed" territories are still information though. In OSM's case, I might want to know which territories are disputed, and in what ways they are. You could give out that info.

Yes, that's OSM's usual rule, but an exception was made for Crimea, and it is mapped as part of Ukraine & Russia (overlapping borders)

> This happens pretty much everywhere with every online map. Kashmir, Taiwan, Western Sahara, etc. etc. Apple doing it for one country is not particularly news.

Exactly. Couple days ago, I have entered "Palestine" into google maps. It did not highlight any territory and just showed me generic location of Middle East. On mobile it did not relocate map view at all.

AFAIK with disputed territories it was always like that - it depends what you search and from where you search. Names, borders will be different and IMO it's fine as reality is that regarding locations there's sometimes no clear answer who controls it and what name it has.

IIRC there's an island on a river in Europe where it is exchanged between countries weekly (or daily, don't remember)..

But the Palestine example shows that it does not happen with every disputed territory in the world. If you are living in a country that has recognized Palestine and has diplomatic relations the state (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_recognition_of_t...) it would make sense that "Palestine" would show up on the map. But it doesn't show up either on Google's, Apple's or Bing's map.

Pheasant Island on the river Bidassoa that runs between France and Spain; administration of the island switches every six months. It has since 1659 when Louis xiv and Philip iv signed the peace Treaty of the Pyrenees on the island. It is a different situation IMO for it has clear and settled ownership, that being both. Accessed by boat,and on it some trees and grass; it has little intrinsic value to either sovereign or local population. It is seen as the place were towns share the duty of cutting the grass. It's not a tourist spot of any sort.

"The Island That Switches Countries Every Six Months", Half as Interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJZs_VLx6p4

Baidu map shows Taiwan as a province of China wherever you are....which probably contributed to it not being major league.

Yep, there's been some academic work like MapWatch (2016) [0] on tracking the differences in how different providers present different borders in different regions over time.

[0] https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2883016

Oddly when viewed from Australia it doesn’t show our one and only disputed territorial claim, the Australian Antarctic Territory.

I guess Aussies just don’t complain enough to be worth pandering to.

What’s disputed in the Western Sahara?

Some land disputed betweens Morocco and independantist Polisario front.

Or more specifically: the Polisario Front claims the whole of Western Sahara as an independent country, Morocco claims the whole of Western Sahara as an integral part of Morocco; Polisario Front has stable de facto control over a large but barely-inhabited inland portion of Western Sahara with the majority including all the coast being Moroccan-controlled, and Western mapping tends to gloss over it by treating Western Sahara as a single sometimes-unnamed entity with a soft border with the widely-recognised territory of Morocco.

The sentence about google maps is wrong. Google shows whatever you want to see.


Google.com.ua users see a state/province border (top image)

Google.de users a disputed international boundary (middle image)

Google.ru users see an undisputed international boundary and Russian spellings of city names (bottom image).

(and I think there are generally no borders shown in the oceans)

I made the screenshots using proxies or maybe just changing the domains about a year ago (don't remember what exactly I did).

This really seems like the Right Way(tm) to approach this because it acknowledges that the google isn't attempting to be an authoritative source for what's really a subjective truth, and it presents the "most true" version of reality based on where you're coming from. And has the added benefit, one imagines, of being even more infuriating to those trying to push their One True Truth down everyone else's throats.

> google isn't attempting to be an authoritative source for what's really a subjective truth

There is an objective truth here, though, that could be shown (if it were allowed). You could show it as disputed. That the dispute exists is an objective truth. The very fact that different states require you to display it differently is proof of that.

> presents the "most true" version of reality based on where you're coming from

Normally I shy away from this terminology, but let's call it what it is: propaganda. Tech companies (Google, Apple) don't custom-tailor their maps because they want to. They do it because the states use leverage to force them into it. And the states do it to promote the idea that the disputed territory is theirs.

The question isn't whether or not there's a dispute. The question is whether or not there's a meaningful dispute, and whoever's showing the map still has to make that determination. For example, I still hear people calling it "the war of northern aggression" and calling for the South to rise again. Do we mark everything south of the Mason-Dixon line as being disputed by successionists? No, obviously - that claim is ridiculous. But that claim exists, and so you must decide whether or not it is "legitimate". It is exactly the same process as deciding how to show Crimea or Ukraine or dozens of other international borders of varying dubiousness.

I can see how your point applies in the case of "the war of northern aggression," but not here. If you're showing different things to different people on different sides of the dispute, obviously you've decided there is a meaningful dispute.

I don't think that's quite right.

"Legitimacy" is a subjective moral argument in and of itself, and is subjective, and likely to wind up on the wrong side of history. Hiter's annexaction of sudetenland was generally discussed through the lens of legitimacy in pretty mainstream conversations. Obviously history looks at his actions through another lens.

If Russia stops at Crimea, it might be an interesting footnote or a hard pub quiz question 30 years from now. If Putin sets his sights next on Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, and the West lets him have it, it's going to be remembered much differently. By the way I'm not ominously promising future-Hitler. I don't think Putin wants the west, or any more than that, and I don't think any genocide is in the future.

But I do fear that he wants to rebuild as much of the former soviet block as possible, and I do think the EU won't stop him, which will itself be the final nail in the coffin of its legitimacy, and eventual dissolution.

> Tech companies (Google, Apple) don't custom-tailor their maps because they want to. They do it because the states use leverage to force them into it. And the states do it to promote the idea that the disputed territory is theirs.

So what? Google wants people to use their map software. By showing variations of the map depending on what the official stance of the regional government is, they are ensuring that their map software is available in that region and fits the context of that country.

There is a Russian narrative for Crimea being theirs. There is a Ukrainian narrative for Crimea being theirs. It's not Google's place to decide between them, it's their place to create a map people can find things on.

It does not matter what you, I or Sundar Pichai believe is the truth of whom Crimea should belong to. Their product is a map and it's available in Russia, Ukraine and Crimea. In fact, by presenting all the credible alternatives in this case (for Russia's side, they currently administrate the region and for Ukraine's, it was very recently their territory), they are being apolitical about it.

Take that argument even further, and a LOT more areas would suddenly start showing up on Google Maps as disputed.

Would Native Americans start petitioning Google to alter maps of Arizona?

It's not objective though. Countries have arbitrary borders. So if people think those are wrong, who am I to say that they are wrong?

So if you take Crimea, for both Russia and Ukraine it's undisputed. Both think it's theirs. For other countries not, making it no longer objective.

You're not saying they're wrong. You're saying that two parties whose opinions you recognize have different opinions on the matter. That's literally what a dispute is.

It is. But not for them. There is no objectivity in country borders.

Apple could show both, but why take a side and care? This would lead to more problems then they care. (China, India, Pakistan are next in line)

What's subjective there, though? If you go to Crimea and commit a crime (heh), you will be caught by Russian police and hauled before a Russian court. If you start in a point on Crimea and walk towards Kiev or vice versa, you will be stopped by military who will check if you are allowed to enter Ukraine or Russia respectively. We conclude that there is an international border between Crimea and Ukraine, and Crimea is under Russian control.

Maps are usually supposed to represent aspects of reality, in particular those relevant to moving around and understanding places (e.g. whether someone will stop and check your passport, or which country's laws you should consult in a particular location to minimise your chances of getting thrown in a dungeon). I get that many people get fuzzy feelings from looking at pictures that look like maps but instead represent a hypothetical reality they would prefer to be in, but there must be a better term for those than "maps".

It's not that simple. If you go to Crimea and commit a crime without getting arrested, and then travel to Ukraine and they find out, they will arrest you and try you under Ukrainian law.

And if you try to cross the border from Crimea to Ukraine, the Ukrainian side will not ask you if you "want to enter Ukraine". They consider Crimea to be Ukrainian, so they'll treat you as somebody who is already on Ukrainian territory, just passing through an internal checkpoint. Which means that you must have had entered Ukraine legally before, and then traveled from there to Crimea, and back. If you try to enter Crimea from Russia, and then from there to Ukraine, then as far as Ukraine is concerned, you have committed an illegal entry at the moment you entered Crimea without going through a legitimate border checkpoint - so they'll just arrest you for that.

Furthermore, if you try to enter Ukraine at any other border crossing, but they have evidence that you have previously entered Crimea from Russia, they will also treat that as a past illegal entry.

> you have committed an illegal entry at the moment you entered Crimea without going through a legitimate border checkpoint - so they'll just arrest you for that

This is true.

A few years ago I flew from Moscow to Simferopol (Crimea) and was advised that to not visit Ukraine in the future, for risk of arrest at the border. I'm not sure how Ukrainian border authorities would know of my visit to Crimea, since there is no record of it in my Australian passport, but I would not want to take the risk.

There is nothing that Ukraine can do to prevent you from visiting Crimea, except punishing you later if they know somehow. So they have no real power or influence over peninsula.

Actually the better term you're looking for what you want is "local intelligence" or "guide".

Don't limit the the definition and use of (navigational) maps by minimizing the "fuzzy feelings" created by (political) maps. Your hypothetical doesn't work, who goes to some contested territory and then wonder where they'll end up in jail or when they'll fall on a military checkpoint? Most of these areas are not ideal for foreign tourists. If you want a map to navigate immediately around Yemen, Syria, Morocco, northern India, Aceh, South Sudan etc you're in trouble.

Entire countries with nationalistic pride and a populist/authoritarian leader like China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Morocco... fight tooth and nails to have maps that conform to their world-representation. Because they can suppress speech and justify violence against populations usually in these territories or manufacture causes for military confrontations. That's usually what political maps are for and they matter if you're a tech company.

None of this is inconsistent with a disputed border though: Russia would describe it as firmly Russian and Ukraine as occupied Ukrainian territory.

It's also exactly what Apple is doing in this situation

> The region is now displayed as Russian territory on Apple Maps and Weather, when viewed from inside Russia.

No it adds ", Crimea, Russia" to the end of "Simferopol" in Weather.app but does not on the iPhone in US I just tried here.

for me in germany it just shows no country at all

Yes, I also noted this. The question is what does it show for people in Ukraine?

Are you including Crimea when you ask that question?

of course, Crimea is Ukraine

No country, just city. Tried from Ukraine

do you have an iphone? did it make you change app store recently? what options were available? just asking because yesterday a friend was forced to pick russian app store in ukraine.


There is a White House in russia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_(Moscow)

"true" or "not true" is probably the wrong way to frame this. There's no reason Google or Apple should want to be involved in deciding the truth, but they do to be a source of useful information.

Knowing whether or not you're going to be crossing a border is useful information when you're physically close to that border. When you're viewing the same map from 1000km away, the political status of the border is probably more important to you than whether or not you're going to be stopped by border guards.

Well if so it's still just the side-effect of not loosing out on selling their services in the target country.

Maybe you are right and it's the best way, I however also see how everyone is deeper in their own bubble with their own reality. Something that can easily cause a very skewed post-fact world view.

It makes Google and Apple targets or any centralized information services for capture to then try to control the narrative globally.

If they chose just one "truth", wouldn't they be targeted even harder?

I'm not sure I follow? If a centralized service only presented "one truth" then it would alienate other markets which would then cause those markets to be lost. Imagine Russia and China capture Google and Apple, they can certainly agree to the history they want written and presented to the world; how quickly or likely or able is the rest of the world to stop funnelling money to the bad actors in control of these organizations and nations - we're quite lousy, unmotivated, incompetent at it currently.

> it presents the "most true" version of reality based on where you're coming from.

The fact of which country controls a territory, which country's laws apply there, which is the local currency, etc. does not change based on your politics. What google is doing is just PR/politics - they are just taking what they see as the least risky path for their business. It's not useful to say Crimea is part of Ukraine because for all practical purposes it is not. If China decided to crush Hong Kong protests with military and establish full control - would it make sense to pretend it is an independent state if Western nations decided to declare it so for political purposes?

An alternative would be to present the version of borders which is most likely to be relevant for a traveler in terms of border crossings, visa requirements, etc.

Yes, agree, whatever is the situation on ground. If X holds the area, show X as owner.

A TLD isn't where you are viewing from, it is what you are viewing. GeoIP is where you are viewing from.

The difference matters for things like GDPR.

I find this contextual reality somehow funny. Can I have a google.1600.es too ? just so I can enjoy a larger empire.

Yes, but only if you access from within Madrid.

Wonder if the Falkland Islands are labeled Malvinas on Google Maps when viewed in Argentina.

It displays "Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)".

Different name depending on language is not necessarily a sign of a political dispute (even if it is in this particular case).

> Google shows whatever you want to see.

Correction, it shows you whatever your government wants/ allows you to see.

This sort of thing happened long before technology provided mapping programs. I wonder if anyone is familiar with how these things played out in the days of published maps? I’m no historian myself. But I’m sure some map publisher had to begrudgingly admit that “their side lost” at some point.

Here’s the thing, once enough time passes, you have to start to consider that Crimea may never return to Ukrainian control.

Just because Russia’s actions have been condemned by the international community doesn’t mean those actions weren’t taken and weren’t successful.

We have to admit at some point that Russia controls this territory now because, sadly, nobody did anything significant to stop it. Russia essentially fought a brief war and won, and took territory as a result.

It’s getting to the point where a map saying that this land is inside the Ukraine is an inaccurate statement.

The USA used to depict Baltic states as Soviet-occupied independent states on the maps, and didn't budge until USSR fell apart and the countries regained independence.

Growing a spine to stand up for what is right helps. Appeasing a bully is certainly going to cement status quo.

What do you mean by “re-gained” independence? They were part of Russia for centuries prior to that. That was them gaining independence for the first time since like the 1500s or so?

They became independent around 1918 and occupied in 1940. Plenty of the modern European nation-states emerged in 20th century, including Poland, Norway, Hungary.. would you dispute statehood of those?

Those countries existed for centuries. History of Europe is long and complicated, it helps to look further back that the last 100 years.

Poland was established in 966, to lose independence in 1795, to regain it in 1918.

Hungary existed since 895, then merged with Austria (at least in theory as equals, not subjects).

They are nothing like, say, Kosovo which was created 10 years ago by arbitrary UN decision, for no good reason.

The Confederacy also became independent for a few years, before being reabsorbed under the gun. How long do you keep depicting a fiction?

When Russian Empire, AKA Jail of Nations, fall apart, all nations were officially granted power to make their own national countries. Then Russian Federation started war against these independent nations and captured most of them back, killing dozens of millions in the process, but existence of these new countries was not disputed (except for few ones, like Kuban People's Republic, etc).

It's not same as separatism. It was similar to fall of other empires.

The Confederacy wasn't a distinct nation state but a faction in Civil War. Noone argues that Whites and Reds in Russia were independent nations, or would you?

Take Finland: it gained independence in much the same circumstances as Baltic states. The only difference was that USSR was not able to fully occupy it in 1940. That's it, there is no other reason an average Russian would scoff at Balts and respect Finland than getting a bloody nose there once.

What does it even mean to be a "distinct nation" really? For what it's worth, Crimea, which is the main arguing point of the whole thread, doesn't really have a distinct nation either, people there are and always have been pretty much Russian for all practical purposes, even while being a part of Ukraine. And while this isn't true for Latvia, this isn't any more true for Kalmykia (which no one argues over) either. In fact, I'd say the opposite is true.

So I call bullshit any attempts to paint things black and white here.

Did the Whites and Reds lay claim to specific land that they were declaring independent of the larger mass (note that this is distinctly different from controlling parts of the territory during wartime while laying claim to the entirety)? The Confederacy is much closer to parts of the Russian empire claiming independence than to the Whites and Reds: the only difference is the length that they were independent (though this is commonly how a nation's legitimacy is decided)

The Confederate States of America was a distinct state, with its own constitution, government, law, borders, and enforcement of all that.

It was not officially recognized as such by anyone, but de facto it was very much a state, and their goal was to maintain that de facto sovereignty.

They were independent in the interwar period, technically lots of the Western USSR/former Russian Empire formed independent states after the First World War but only the Baltic states are usually considered to have been occupied by the USSR AFAIK.

Russia doesn't exist now, because it renamed itself into Ukraine, to avoid confusion with bloody Russian Empire.

Russian Federation ≠ Russian Empire (doesn't exist) ≠ Russia (now Ukraine) ≠ town of Russia (now Old Russa).

BTW. Romania ≠ Rome (now Italy).

What do you mean when you say 'Russia' then? Do you mean the Kievan Rus? That's the only 'Rus' name I see applied to Ukraine on its wiki page. If so, that was 8 centuries ago, and the Russian ethnic group at that time was spread over Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.

Or perhaps, are you saying that the Russian empire isn't truly Russian because the Romanovs were German?

I get what you're saying about country boundaries and composition changing over time, but it seems like a stretch to call Ukraine the true Russia.

<541 — Russia - town of Russia (Русся), now: Old Russa (Старая Русса), but town was moved about 50km up the river at third re-habitation. "Rus`" means Red. They painted their shields in red and used Old Norwegian language.

880-1240 — Russia - Russia, Русь, modern name: Kievan Rus` (to avoid confusion with Russian Empire), now: Ukraine. Built on remnants of eastern part of Volynnia (Free People) kingdom (now: Volyn` region of Ukraine). Rus`-sia means "Rus` there/this" in Slavic, so "-sia" suffix is dropped in Slavic languages, thus Russia transformed into Rus` (BTW: s(с) and s`(сь) are different consonants). In Western Europe traditional name was used: Russia. They used Eastern Slavic Languages.

Then Russia fall apart into 1) Red Russia, or Ruthenia (Rose People Land), now: Western Ukraine, 2) White Russia, or White Ruthenia, now: Belarus`, 3) Black Russia or Black Ruthenia, now: Grodno region of Belarus`, 4) Carphatian Russia or Carpathian Ruthenia, now: Zakarpattia, western part of Western Ukraine.

1721-1917 — Petro I conquered Russia, so he got title "Emperor of All Russia" (Царь всея Руси). Then Catherine II renamed Moscow kingdom into "All Russia Empire" (Всероссийская Империя), which then simplified to Russian Empire(Российская Империя), or just Russia (Россия).

So Russia can mean Russia/Русся (<541), Rus`/Русь (880-1240), Red, White, Black Rus`, or Russian Empire/Российская Империя (1721-1917).

"Rus" (Hellenized as "Rossia", and Latinized as "Ruthenia") was the term used to describe the entire territory from Kiev to Novgorod. Just because it had its capital in Kiev, doesn't mean that modern Ukraine is the only country that can lay claim to the word. Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus are all equally successors to that cultural and historical heritage.

There is no such country as Russia. Russian Federation tries to monopolize use of this word for themselves only.

No other government entity is laying claim to it.

Interesting perspective. Are you suggesting Ukraine is the real Russian people? Also, where does that leave Belorussia?

Real Russian people are called "Rusichi/русичи" in Slavic, literally: "sons of Rus`". They are direct ascendants of citizens of town of Russia. Later, they are assimilated, so they forgot their language and culture. Major part of them are assimilated by Slavic tribes at territory of central and west Ukraine and Belarus`, so this territory got name "Russia" in 9 century.

Slavic people of Russia/Русь are called "Rusyns/русины" (y as in lynx), literally: "they are Rus`", or "Russish/руські", literally: "belongs to Rus`". Name "Rusyns" was popular in Habsburg Monarchy, while name "Russish" was popular in Russian Empire.

People of Russian Federation are called "Russish/руские", literally: "belongs to Rus`", or "Rossiiane/россияне", literaly: People of Russia/Россия, "Russish" means here believers of Russian Church, mostly Tatars, Erzan`, Mordva, and many other peoples, known as "Russificated peoples/обрусевшие народы".

So, Ukrainians are not "real Russians". Real Russians are assimilated and now are called Ukrainians, Belorussians, Cossacks, Russians, Lithuanians, etc.

I believe they were all independent for at least a short time between WW1 and WW2.

Yes, and that was largely the subjective opinion of those US-based map publications.

A US-adversary might want to call Puerto Rico a US-occupied independent state and they’d have similar justification.

What is “right” in global politics is highly subjective.

Maps used to be, like telegraph systems, under far more aggressive state control in various places. I seem to remember that Turkey had a law against possessing maps at greater than specified resolution without a license.

Even in present-day India I believe maps are required to show Kashmir with the Indian view, and customs may theoretically confiscate differing printed maps.

I wonder if anyone is familiar with how these things played out in the days of published maps?

Pretty much the same. Map is tailored to its audience.

Visit a mid-tier antiques shop in a large global city (New York, London, Vienna) and you may see some old maps with some interesting borders.

One of the walls in my home office has one of those big pull-down school maps of the Middle East. There isn't a date on it, but based on the borders it's probably about 80 years old. A number of... unconventional... names and borders on it.

> sadly, nobody did anything significant to stop it.

Why "sadly"? By all reliable accounts, the Crimean people would rather be a part of Russia. Obviously we'd prefer that land and people be transferred between countries via diplomacy rather than military action, but I don't feel like expecting that to happen in this case is realistic.

(Obviously Russia didn't annex Crimea out of the goodness of its heart, of course. I imagine it was primarily for some form of strategic advantage, and Crimea being largely populated by ethnic Russians just made it both easier to accomplish and justify.)

> However, it uses the Russian spelling of Crimean place names on its maps in Russia, rather than the Ukrainian spelling.

The vast majority of people in Crimea are Russian speakers (as well as being ethnically Russian). It's been that way since the Russian Empire conquered the peninsula from the Ottomans in 1783. In fact, there's nearly as many Tartar (descendents of Ottomans) speakers in Crimea than Ukrainian. Last time I was there (early this year), I saw a number of new mosques under construction.

I'm not justifying the recent annexation, just noting the linguist realities on the ground. Also, politics aside, if you ever have the chance to visit, do it. The peninsula is very beautiful and there's lots of interesting geographical features and historical sights to see. Also, the infrastructure has improved significantly since the Russian takeover (unfortunately Ukraine being poor, neglected the peninsula after the collapse of the USSR) so getting around is easier now.


By that logic, all areas of Russia where the non-Russian ethnicity is dominant (of which there are a lot) should all be written out in their respective languages.

Also, the argument "well it was like that since <some time t>" does not really have traction. Why choose an arbitrary time point? Usually, these arguments fall apart when you suggest to look at <t - dt>.

In many Russian territories, they are in fact. You'll see multi lingual signs and that kind of stuff. I was in Komi Republic this time last year and many signs had both Komi (a Fino language) and Russian, despite a very insignificant number of living speakers.

That's not the argument tho, is it? I think Russian speakers in Ukraine were pretty comfortable themselves.

No, not in Crimea. True hate for all things Ukrainian was real there, especially in older folks. Many older generations never learned the language anyway and feeling of being heavily abused by politicians in Kyiv didn’t help the cause either.

This was very different from for example Baltic states.

Wait wait wait, I grew up in the Baltics as a Russian speaker. What you go through as such there (especially in Latvia and Estonia) is actual discrimination. As in: some people started to change their names to hide their Russian origins. What you have in Ukraine in comparison is a gentle reminder to please at some point learn the language of your country.


To this day in Baltic states there are places where people were moved in by Soviet Union and even today most of the people hardly speak the language of the country they live in. Because of this they mostly watch Russian national tv and think that Soviet Union was the best place in the world.

The Baltics are still very vurnerable to Russian propaganda, for Ukraine it's even harder to escape propaganda, because of Slavic roots and similar languages.

Edit: If there's a majority of former Soviet nationals thinking that they are somehow "abused" by living in the independent Baltic state, so do you think father putin should save them by occupying the country? Or should those people need to buy one way ticket to their motherland and never come back?

Crimea has autonomy since forever and local parliament and government. Most schools in Crimea are russian speaking. This talk of abuse is just propaganda.

> By that logic, all areas of Russia where the non-Russian ethnicity is dominant (of which there are a lot) should all be written out in their respective languages.

Why not? Use the most common local language as well as Russian.

Of course! But if you look at the map of Russia it's mostly only English and Russian.

I'm talking about local street signs and documents having the local language + official federal language. The languages used on Google maps just seems to default to your local language + the country official language. That's just the technical aspect of how Google maps works - you can change the language in settings. If you look at Quebec from English-speaking Canada or US you will mostly see English and no French.

But concepts like "Russian" and "Ukrainian" are time period specific. I think GP is saying that the area has been Russian-majority every since when the distinction between Russian and Ukrainian came into existence.

I think Crimean Tatars might disagree.

Native Americans or Basques or Serbs in Kosovo can disagree with some of western politics, but who do really care?

Because if somebody does a bad thing, then everybody can do it, right! /s

Distinction between Russians and Ukrainians started after rename of (Kievan) Russia into Ukraine in 1908, when delegates from whole Russia Empire made decision to change name, to move away from Moscow. After Soviet Revolution, Ukrainians started Great Ukrainization, with it peak in 1929. At it peak, 81 millions of Ukrainians (Russians) and 77 millions of Russians (Russish) were counted in 1926. This was perceived as great threat to Soviet Union, because Ukrainians wanted their own, independent from Moscow, country. To tame Ukrainians, genocide was started, known as Holodomor, which killed 7 millions of adults (accepted by RF) and 23 millions of children (not accepted by RF) in 1932-1934, which are hidden in losses in WWW2, which are raised from 12 millions to 42 millions. Also, 20 millions of Ukrainians were written as Russians at Kuban and Crimea, so number of Russians jumped from 77 millions to 97 millions. So, at next people count, 97 millions of Russians and 29 millions of Ukrainians were counted. Problem solved. To tame Ukraine furthers, Ukrainian language was forbidden to use, and Ukrainian elite is (still) killed regularly.

That's modern propagandistic oversimplification of the Great Hunger, which devastated agricultural parts of Soviet Union, including Russians and Ukrainians.

It was prohibited to talk about Holodomor at times of Soviet Union. Actual number of victims is still top secret of Russian Federation. Archives, which has huge historic value, are destroyed in 2010, 70 years after Holodomor, instead of opening for public. If you have detailed information about Holodomor, please share. Currently, we use recorded witnesses and sporadic documents to study it. Also, graves of victims are found at rate of about 2 new mass-grave per month in Summer, for decades.

All recorded witnesses share same main narrative: it was year with high yield, but everything edible, even in very small quantities, like handful of seeds, was confiscated by state multiple times per month, until people starved to death.

It's not a Great Famine, like in 1921. It's Holodomor ("Mass-murder by Famine").

Witnesses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMTnkeksUMk More information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5YjztNdRwk

Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands is excellent on the Holodomyr. He cites various sources estimating the victim count at 3M to 10M, and suggests 6M himself IIRC. He also details Stalin's orders in 32 and 33. The NKVD confiscated grain. When all the grain was gone, they confiscated seed grain, making it impossible to plant for the following year. And they confiscated the cattle too. Snyder constructs a strong argument to the effect that this was deliberate mass murder by Stalin.

And then Stalin launched the Great Terror in 37. Snyder estimates the death count as 750K.

In the West we have a propaganda hangover from WWII - the "Uncle Joe" view of Stalin. Many wonder at what was going on in Hitler's mind. For me Stalin is far more incomprehensible. Utterly cold, cynical and calculating. Must have been some kind of sociopath or psychopath.

Russian Duma confirmed 7 millions of victims at 02.04.2008, then Russian FSB destroyed archives of 1926 census in 2010, to hide real number of victims.

It's all true, but it was not anti-Ukrainian crime commited by Russians. It was anti-Russian crime commited by Bolsheviks.

Every agricultural region with Russian(Ukrainian or Belorussian included) population suffered, not only Ukraine.

No witnesses to confirm this theory. As far as I know, Ukrainians and some other minorities were targeted with Holodomor.

Number of Russians jumped from 77 millions to 99 millions between 1926 and 1939. It doesn't looks like genocide.

Russians were supported by government. Villages of dead Ukrainians were granted to Russians, including free transfer by rail road from central Russia to Ukraine, free seeds, free equipment, and free cattle, confiscated by government prior to that.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "Some 4 to 5 million died in Ukraine, and another 2 to 3 million in the North Caucasus and the Lower Volga area."

Russia had very traditional society at that time, with large number of children. If you have 5 kids, and two dies from commie-induced hunger, the population would still grow and it would still be genocide.

Holodomor was terrible. There's a very sombering museum in Kiev covering this horrific and intentional mass murder.

Holodomor Genocide Museum Lavrska St, 3, Kyiv, Ukraine, 02000


You forgot to mention that Crimea Tatars, Greeks, and Ukrainians were deported and murdered in Crimea. It's easy to make Crimea speak any language this way. However, in times before mass-education was started and official variant of Russian language was developed, the folk variant of language spoken there was called "molva", which now known as Ukrainian language ("mova").

Well, yes - this deportation happened and is one of the many dark moments in USSR history. Glad you brought this up - difficult to write the entire history of the region on hn. The history of the Pontic Greeks and then later, Italian city states, in the Black Sea is really fascinating.

This is a pretty decent English language history of the area: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_(book)

Also, I didn't know about "mova", neat - this language or dialect was spoken in Crimea?

Molva (~rumors, «народная молва») was common name of folk language spoken at territory of (Kievan) Russia. Later it was replaced by official developed language, called yazyk ( tongue, «язык»), which was based on ancient dialect of South Slavic language, as spoken in Russian churches.

However, leaders of folk movement, later known as Ukrainians, developed and enhanced folk language, which then was renamed into Ukrainian language, and used as one of symbols of independence from Moscow, so it was systematically suppressed by government of Russian Empire, Soviet Union, and Russian Federation.

Very interesting. Thank you / Дякую / Спасибо.

These all need to be considered separately.

Crimean Tatars constituted the majority of the population of Crimea before the Russian conquest. They became the minority partly through genocide, and partly because the peninsula was settled by Russian colonists.

Ukrainians, on the other hand, were never indigenous in Crimea. It was not a part of Kievan Rus, so any Ukrainians who lived there, immigrated there after the Russian occupation of it. And there are so few mostly because most immigration to it was orchestrated, and the Imperial government preferred to settle it with Russian rather than Ukrainian colonists.

So in one case, you can talk about genocide of the indigenous population. In the other case, it's preferential treatment of one ethnicity over another for colonization purposes.

> The vast majority of people in Crimea are Russian speakers (as well as being ethnically Russian). It's been that way since the Russian Empire conquered the peninsula from the Ottomans in 1783.

Where did you find population data before 1879? I have looked at the linked data before and it was called the first Russian census [1]. If I am not mistaken, the data at that time shows Tatars still being the biggest group at 35.6%.

In the context of this topic I think it is fair to also include the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars by Lavrentiy Beria, which is one of the reasons for their numbers dwindling to less than one percent in '45 [2].

The link [2] also shows that Crimean Tatars made up 98% of Crimea in 1783. From the linked authors, Tanner [3, p. 21–22], wrote:

> Ever since the first Russian conquest of the Crimean Khanate, the Tatars had faced striking and gradual colonization of Crimea by Slavs, mainly Russians and Ukrainians. At the time of the Russian annexation of the Crimean Khanate in 1783, Crimea was an almost uniformly Tatar country, Crimeans constituting 98% of the population (about 500,000) people.

With the other author, Drohobycky [4, p. 73], writing:

> Until the end of the eighteenth century, the Crimean Tatars were the largest ethnic group based on size. The process of formation of the Crimean Tatar people had been completed in the sixteenth century. After Crimeas annexation by Russia in 1873, Crimea was intensively colonized by the Russians and less intensively by the Ukrainians, Germans, Bulgarians, Jews, Armenians, Greeks, and other ethnic groups.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimea#Demographics

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deportation_of_the_Crimean_Tat...

3. Tanner, A. (2004). The Forgotten minorities of Eastern Europe: the history and today of selected ethnic groups in five countries. Helsinki: East-West Books.

4. Drohobycky, M. (1995). Crimea: Dynamics, Challenges and Prospects. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

We're not in disagreement. The displacement of Crimean Tartars was not immediate. Then later, the deportation of them under Stalin and Beria to the Soviet *stans (which was terrible and horrifying). After the fall of the USSR, a large number of the Tartars returned to Crimea (I once had an interesting conversation with one on a flight who now lives in the US).

> The vast majority of people in Crimea are Russian speakers (as well as being ethnically Russian), not Ukrainian. It's been that way since the Russian Empire conquered the peninsula from the Ottomans in 1783. In fact, there's nearly as many Tartar (descendents of Ottomans) speakers in Crimea than Ukrainian.

This is misleading and factually incorrect. Everyone who speaks Russian also speaks Ukrainian in Ukraine, except for people who literally moved there recently from Russia and other countries.

Yes, this is factually correct - just Google around for Crimea language maps. While this is true of mainland Ukraine (multilingual), Crimea has a different history. It was Russian speakers from the Russian Empire who displaced Tatars (a Turkish language). There was never a significant Ukrainian speaking population in Crimea. Most Crimeans don't speak any Ukrainian.

Just because you don't agree with Russian politics doesn't change the facts about which languages are spoken:

* https://www.quora.com/Do-they-speak-Russian-or-Ukrainian-in-... * https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Crimea * https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/they-spea...

> Most Crimeans don't speak any Ukrainian.

No, most Crimeans do speak both Russian and Ukrainian, just like everyone else in Ukraine, since Ukrainian is the only official language and it's pretty much impossible to not be exposed to both languages, especially in education and media. After the fall of Soviet Union all the ethnic Russians in Ukraine (incl. Crimea) had no way of avoiding it and do speak Ukrainian.

Are you Ukrainian? Have you been to Crimea? A language becoming official (which was only very recent) does not magically make everyone fluent. Sure, Crimeans probably all know some A2 level Ukrainian from media. But they are not fluent and are likely speaking Russian or Tartar at home.

I'm Ukrainian. I was in Crimea. I have aunt in Crimea. I had no problem with Ukrainian language in Crimea.

Ok. I might be wrong. Which part of of Crimea?

Sevastopol, Simferopol, Alushta.

Like half of the country are speaking Russian at home and at work too by the way. That doesn't mean they don't know Ukrainian.

Please show your evidence, because it's not what I've read nor experienced during my visits to Crimea.

> Also, the infrastructure has improved significantly since the Russian takeover (unfortunately Ukraine being poor, neglected the peninsula after the collapse of the USSR) so getting around is easier now.

Ukraine, after Soviet Union crumbled was always under the foot of Russian Federation. It is the poorest performer of any country which became independent after Soviet occupation. It never managed to properly "westernize", because Russian influence and bullying was strong. Russian cronies in the government and Crimea was literally a Russian naval base. Due to strong influence from the East, eastern Ukraine population was mentally stuck in the "good old Soviet times".

After Maidan in 2014 and Russian friendly Ukrainian president was toppled for dropping trade agreements from EU, Putin clearly saw that he may lose control of the naval bases to the Black Sea, so decided to take Crimea by power.

Crimea to Russia right now is just propaganda to push agenda for the rest of Ukraine and to the Russians as well (oh look how great you'll live in the Mother Russia). Most of the Russia except for Moscow and St. Petersburg is in pretty poor and rough state.

P.S. sorry for my English. Non native speaker. Also opinion is mine and speaking from my memory, if I am not correct please correct me.

I am talking as a person whose country was at the same position as Ukraine 30 years ago, but now average Joe is economically 5-10 times better than average Ukrainian. Ukraine is poor because it's 20-30 years late to free itself from Soviet/Russian shambles.

Edit: also I want to add that for Russia this stunt did cost huge amounts from cash reserves and rubble have lost half of it's value which has not recovered to this day, which made locals "very happy".

Interesting and fair enough. Crimeans that I've spoken to are mostly happy with the annexation, but they have complained about the loss of purchasing power (Ruble is stronger than Hryvnia). So infrastructure is better, but their incomes have not adjusted to be in line with rest of Russia and things are more expensive than before.

I am sorry in advance, but to me your comments seem very naive. I guess people who have never survived any kind of foreign oppression, propaganda, active fifth column [0] operating for years in sovereign country, KGB/FSB tactics and mentality, etc. will never fully understand this.

> Crimeans that I've spoken to are mostly happy with the annexation

1. They won't tell you otherwise. Ask N. Korean citizen if it likes to live there. Of course it does - either because it does not want to end up in a work camp lasting for 3 generations or at best - that the person does not know any better.

2. I guess the most important thing is - Russification of Ukraine lasting more than a century. Crimea suffered the worst [1]. I could bet that former Soviet citizens living in Baltic states [2] would have asked for "help" from Kremlin and would've successfully and "happily" voted for regions with biggest Russian population to secede from Baltic country into Russia. That's what happened in Crimea and thank god that Baltics are in NATO.

3. Sevastopol is a major naval base for Russia [3][4] that they leased from Ukraine (oh how generous of them) and was one of the initial attack vectors to annex peninsula in 2014.

I could rant for hours on this, but in short - Russian Empire and Soviet union have destroyed major percentage of natives from the occupied territories and have relocated great numbers of native Russians into the occupied territories.

In the Baltics every person knows at least some relative or a friend that during Soviet times were exiled to Siberia, mysteriously disappeared or KGB kicked out the door at 3am ant told to go "for a drive". If the person does not know anyone with such faith - I could give 99.9% that the person (or it's ancestors) were/are Russian/Soviet citizens.

To this day Russia uses those former Russian/Soviet citizen as a fifth column, these people are very susceptible to Russian propaganda and they have very idilic image of Soviet way of life (oh those great young days). Soviet/Russian propaganda is strong, intelligent and witty. Goebbels would be so jealous of how good they are.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_column

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russification_of_Ukraine#/medi...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russians_in_Latvia#/media/File...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_Fleet

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sevastopol_Naval_Base

I actually agree with you (about propaganda, 5th column, etc), but the Russification of Crimea was against the Ottomans (Tartars), not endemic Ukrainians. The Russian Empire and Soviets actually have a lot in common with the USA in terms of displacing native populations, destroying cultures/languages, etc.

> .. but the Russification of Crimea was against the Ottomans (Tartars), not endemic Ukrainians.

So how does this make Crimea Russian then?

I am pointing out from the top of my head, but in 2014 I've heard these top excuses for annexing Crimea:

1. Crimea was given to Soviet Ukraine, by Soviet Russia, thus Crimea is Russian and Russian Federation is taking it back, because they "suddenly realised" it was a mistake.

2. "Crimean people asked" for protection from "Ukrainian nazi junta" and they had "independent" vote on integrating themselves into Russia.


How about Lithuanians should take over the Kaliningrad Oblast [0] as it was Minor Lithuania many years ago? Maybe Germans should come to the negotiations as it was territory of Prussia too?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaliningrad_Oblast

Kaliningrad population is 90% Russian, and you can't make German or Lithuanian out of Russian by changing his name in passport. You can make Ukrainian though, just change Alexey for Olexy.

> I'm not justifying the recent annexation

It really sounds like you are, though. I mean the principle most of us care about here isn't about matching iOS app text to "the linguistic realities on the ground", it's about not condoning the literal invasion of neighboring countries (by a nuclear power, no less).

> Also, the infrastructure has improved significantly since the Russian takeover

Also sounds very much like a justification for an invasion.

Want to know the worst part? Chase* edited his comment to add those parts you quoted. It's not surprising I guess he has "CCCP" on his IG avatar: https://imgur.com/Oh1OlfD

* https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=cpursley

>about: chasepursley.com

Oh, you got me - I'm a communist!!! Or a Putin sympathizer (I always mix up which one is the more pointed insult).

Anyways, that was taken outside of an interesting museum in Sevastopol. The entire bay there is pretty cool. You can take a boat tour around it. There's a bunch of old USSR ships in various levels of decay as well as some of the newer stuff (the main reason for the annexation was for control of this warm water port btw):

Museum of the Black Sea Fleet Lenina St, 11, Sevastopol


My favorite is the "secret" underground submarine base in Balaklava. Fascinating place that until recently was off limits to Westerners:

Voyenno-Istoricheskiy Muzey Fortifikatsionnykh Sooruzheniy 1 99000, Marmurova St, Sevastopol


So? It's not Z Lałręc ul nor Hospital Conmemorativo de Jackson in US just because the majority of people in a place speak a different language or came from somewhere else.

Except that's exactly how it happens in the US, it's "Los Angeles" /lɔːs ˈændʒələs/ and not "Los Ángeles" /los ãŋxeles/ because the majority of people there have been English speakers ever since the US conquest of the Southwest.

The majority of the people in Crimea are and were Russian at the time of vote for annexation. It makes sense that genetic Russians would want to reunite with their people.

Oh wow... "Jedem das Seine", right? /s

First, you’re conflating language with national identity here, second you’re completely ignoring Crimean tatars that we’re repressed and mass deported from Crimea by Stalin, third you’re not making any sense anyway, because just because major chunk of local population wants to secede - can’t be ground for annexation and starting war, that’s just idiotic.

The Ukrainian/Russian mainland war is a separate issue from Russians living in Crimea wanting to be reunited with their countrymen.

Ukrainians, which are living in RF, are wanting to be reunited with Ukraine, so let's start the war!

Hmm. How you will slice Russia? Even USA cannot do that, because of (real) fear of MAD. It's better to not spread something like that. Empire will fall on it own, just wait.

Where did you het this idea? If they want to be reunited, then how about they use one way ticket to Moscow and enjoy the motherland..

They did exactly this, except they used the whole peninsula as transport.

I agree with this 100%. Russia is huge and big enough. Just move instead of bringing death and destruction to your village.

And that's what former Soviet citizens living in Ukraine's Crimea should've done...

But I guess strong helping hand from father putin was just too convenient for them..

From their 80% vote to join Russia when given the option

Yeah, right, vote under gunpoint of Russian soldiers, organized by Russian side, counted by Russian side, all completed in just two weeks during which the whole peninsula was filled with propaganda claiming Ukraine was taken over by nazi junta so the Choice is either nazi or Russia.

What are you doing on hn?

I would like to believe the person you are responding to is very naive, but looking at the account, the comments it makes (most of the comments in the last 2 weeks) and the karma comments receive..

It's either a member of fifth column [0] (could be unwillingly - by accident) or a troll/bot [1]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_column

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Research_Agency#Troll...

Just because someone does not have the mainstream western view does not make them a troll. Suggesting so is intellectually lazy. People are still allowed to think for themselves.

Yes, the Crimean vote was a scam. The way that Crimea was forcefully annexed is certainly not ideal and out of line with modern norms. But that doesn't mean that Crimeans didn't want to rejoin Russia. Both can be true.

> Yes, the Crimean vote was a scam. The way that Crimea was forcefully annexed is certainly not ideal and out of line with modern norms. But that doesn't mean that Crimeans didn't want to rejoin Russia.

this line of thinking is not irrational but still very harmful to civilization as a whole. a belief that some chunk of population wants to secede can never be used as grounds for annexation, it should only be used to influence internal political affairs. calling annexation on such grounds "not ideal" is understating it to the point where i can rationally conclude your goal is to just see the civilization burn to the ground.

which coincidentally is exactly the kind of views that russian government trolls promote in all corners of the internet.

yes, "Both can be true", but you don't know if the latter is true without holding a proper referendum with both sides of the question represented fairly and debated widely so that citizens are well informed/educated when going to vote. and that means you should condemn in strongest terms what russia has done (or any other country involved in similar conflict), not just meekly call it "not ideal".

From your very own link:

> A joint survey by American government agency Broadcasting Board of Governors and polling firm Gallup was taken during April 2014.[284] It polled 500 residents of Crimea. The survey found that 82.8% of those polled believed that the results of the Crimean status referendum reflected the views of most residents of Crimea, whereas 6.7% said that it did not. 73.9% of those polled said that they thought that the annexation would have a positive impact on their lives, whereas 5.5% said that it would not.

So annexation is ok in that case?

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine: https://twitter.com/VPrystaiko/status/1199725757762850819

>IPhones are great products. Seriously, though, @Apple, please, please, stick to high-tech and entertainment. Global politics is not your strong side. #CrimeaIsUkraine

Russia has the power to take a portion of territory and they did. The means through which they did it is considered wrong, but it doesn't change the reality of who controls the area. Maps of political borders are maps of influence, not maps of ideals.

I'll also note that thoughts and prayers are not terribly useful in these situations. Force responds to force, nothing else. I expect Russia to continue doing these sorts of things while the world frets.

I expect Russia to continue doing these sorts of things while the world frets.

I think the situation with Crimea is unique as there is a set of multiple historical, racial, political etc. etc. factors not present anywhere else. What else could Russia possibly annex without triggering major war and world mayhem?

The only real answer to this question is probably Belarus.

In theory they can. In practice I think should any military aggression happen the rest of the world will quite deservedly cut off any ties with Russia while offering to Belorussia all military assistance possible short of direct participation.

Northern Georgia.

Missed that one. It is a mess in there. But said mess did already happen and I was talking about future. Russia had definitely taken advantage of the situation where 2 regions wanted to separate. The end outlook is not encouraging.

I am curious here about one thing here. Government leaders supposed to be smart people. Where did Saakashvili (Georgian president at the time) loose his last 2 brain cells before allowing military attack on stationed Russian peacekeepers. Try to imagine Syrian soldiers attacking US military and see what happens.

I saw a documentary where the border in Georgia was slowly creeping overnight. Like, they literally move the fence up when it's dark. So, possibly still on-going.

Alaska maybe. :-/

So Russia would annex a portion of the US and not trigger war or any conflict?

Yeah, no that's highly unlikely.

People of Alaska will declare independence (with little help of Russian tourists, journalists, and some honest news). This will not trigger a war, right? Independent Democratic People Republic of Alaska will join Russian Federation next day after that. Job is done.

Just in case the original Alaska message was not sarcasm. States can not secede from the US. Do a little reading on this. And if they try there will be action from the rest of US starting from police and up to full blown military enforcement. And if Russia will try to protect said state we will have nice little nuclear war. Say bye to your iPhone and Hacker News.

Crimea cannot secede from the Ukraine. Was not a problem, solved with lots of honest news made by Russian journalists with help of Russian green (khaki) tourists.

Ukraine started full-blown military operation. Not a problem, because war was triggered on Donbass, part of Ukraine which is not annexed.

Ukraine is post-nuclear country, so it can nuke Russia. Not a problem, because of fear of MAD.

Please, invent something new.

I was talking about Alaska.

the rest of Donbass

War on Donbass is used by Russia to keep Crimea intact. Russia is not interested in these ruins, until Ukraine will rebuild Donbass again.

That is legally not true.

Legally not true in which jurisdiction?

I didn't say anything about legality.

Law is a subset of violent power.

I think it's valuable for Apple to have a mapping product, and having that product invites governments to interfere. I think it's safe to say you're politically neutral when you just do what governments tell you to do.

Two governments not agreeing with each other is a problem for them to work out amongst themselves. Apple just has to maintain a system that allows them to stay in compliance with every government's view at once, and appear to be doing that. (I can type the Hong Kong flag on my iPhone, after all.) That's not politics, that's just self-preservation.

I think what people really want are for corporations to advocate for the political views that they happen to agree with. I was like that up until the whole NBA/China, Apple/China, and Blizzard/China controversy. After being deeply upset for a while, I came to terms with the fact that Fortune 500 companies are not going to be the guiding force towards a better world. They are just going to play basketball or make phones or make computer games. And I'm OK with that. Not thrilled, but I accept it.

That's cheap propaganda with fake casual tone. Apple has to do something with Crimea on the map, and anything they choose is global politics. Or is MFA of Ukraine asking Apple to stop mapping Crimea completely?

The situation is not that simple. There is a Swiss historian discussing the case in great detail. For anyone who feels that something is odd about this - have a look. I am sorry it is in German so... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sMfNmx0wKo

Apple enjoys all the privileges of being based in a western liberal democracy, but it’s starting to feel like they don’t really believe in those values. All that guff about privacy, the environment, minority rights etc, yet when faced with real tyranny they will do literally anything in return for market access. The lesson is clear: don’t expect soft power alone to topple the autocrats of the 21st Century.

Get over yourself. The USA overthrew and annexed Hawaii a little more than 100 years ago. Not to mention Texas, Puerto Rico, etc.

When we start talking about giving back those territories, I'll start taking everyone's opinion on Crimea seriously.

Giving them back to whom, exactly? Texas voted to join the US, Puerto Rico has repeatedly had independence referenda, and Hawaii is... complicated, but you certainly couldn’t argue that the unelected Hawaiian monarchy was a more legitimate government than the elected US government (also Hawaiian independence polls at around 6%).

And Crimea used to belong to the Ottomans (and the Greeks, and the Italians). Should we give it back to them? I think you made my point for me.

You expect Apple to do something that the US government isn't even capable of?

>they will do literally anything in return for market access.

I don't really see the issue in this case because borders are legal fictions and thus for contested borders between major factions there is no single source of truth, so the most accurate thing is indeed simply to display to Russian users the state of the map as understood by Russians and to other parties the way they see it.

Yes, leave it as a locale customization, like how you write your dates.

Show me a single corporation that has values beyond making a profit.

Show me a mammal who has values beyond continuing to oxidize food.

Survival is an overriding value for everyone, but acting in accordance with other values can be a part of how that's achieved--ideally corporations are rewarded with profitability when they act in accordance with society's values. How best to achieve this, though, is a matter of some disagreement.

A nonprofit corporation is one answer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonprofit_corporation

But if you’re not being literal when you ask about values beyond profit, then as an easy example: Valve. They believe in promoting PC gaming and moving it forward. I think their service (and products) represents that value fairly well, and sometimes at the expense of profit.

Tell that to the CSGO community with the new game-breaking changes (you can buy camoflaged player skins) in the name of profit

Despite this, I find it quite difficult to say that Valve values profits and nothing else. Why? Values are not binary, and they are not applied equally in all situations. And like any company, they’ve made their share of bad moves. Yet a profit-first Valve would be far different than the company we see today.

Still, I’m sorry to hear of that situation.

I learned early in my web dev career that the India northern map one is a very touchy subject if you intend to target Indians with your web service.

You have to be careful not to take some random map off the internet when using them in the design.

Obligatory The Old New Thing link: https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20030822-00/?p=42...

> The time zone map met a similar fate. The Indian government threatened to ban all Microsoft software from the country because we assigned a disputed region to Pakistan in the time zone map. (Any map that depicts an unfavorable border must bear a government stamp warning the end-user that the borders are incorrect. You can’t stamp software.) We had to make a special version of Windows 95 for them.

What are the issues at play in northern India?

Kashmir has been disputed between India and Pakistan for several decades now.

And China

Has anybody thought of asking the people of the disputed region which country they’d like to be a part of?

Nope, you're the first human in history who has thought of that.

Sarcasm aside, it's because India knows it'd lose in the referendum. The area is >60% Muslim, India has committed some horrible atrocities in the area, and there's just no way the majority of people there today would vote for India (decades ago, it would have been the opposite).

Hence, India will do anything it can for the referendum to just not happen.

> India has committed some horrible atrocities in the area

Hah. Boiler plate blame-the-other-of-your-faults strategy.

e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exodus_of_Kashmiri_Hindus

Ethnic cleansing of Hindus who were mass-exoded out of their homelands through threat of murder and rape via public loudspeakers in the 90s.

Innumerable terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pak ISI instigated and based agents ever since Independence, through Operation Gibraltar.


Kashmir was divided in partition in 1947. Pakistan didn't like it. They invaded Kashmir. Indian army held them at current Line of Actual Control. Since then they've been attacking it.

Rape is a blotch to be condemned. It's been a unfortunate side effect of every war ever fought, by both sides. WWII - Germany vs Russia, and Russia vs Germany, for example.

Taken from Human Rights Watch Report - "Rape in Kashmir: A Crime of War" 1993: "In some cases, women have been raped by militant forces as a way of punishing other family members believed to be informers or suspected of opposing the militants. In other cases, members of armed militant groups have abducted women and raped them after threatening or murdering other members of the family."

Terrorism is a huge infestation problem, especially in Kashmir Every country has to deal with it strong-handedly as a duty. Every country since the beginning of time has introduced curfews and curbed liberty for security (TSA screenings hello?) for peace keeping. It's no secret the benefits outweigh the risks for the majority of peaceful population.

Kashmir is also a defensible natural barrier with a lot of mountains. If it's surrendered to Pakistan, that likely makes it harder for India to defend itself. That's not a justification, but it's a reason for India to want to keep it above and beyond the interests of the people-in-Kashmir-who-want-to-stay-part-of-India.

It's kind of similar to Crimea (maintains access to the Black Sea) and, in historical terms, Thrace or East Prussia or Gdansk. In fact, after both World Wars people kind of decided it was easier to relocate people behind whatever borders were strategically agreed upon rather than try and build borders around which country the people already living there wanted to live in.

> India has committed some horrible atrocities in the area,

Not only is that an oversimplification, but it is also plain wrong at so many levels (but it is the lie that has been spun for a long time now). Successive govts. helmed by a certain sell out (Indian) political party had systematically worked against Indian interests by not only not challenging this false narrative, but actually tacitly endorsing it, until recently. Embarrasingly, people like Tulsi Gabbard have been more sympathetic and supporting of the facts behind the incidents, and calling out the false media spin. But this support has led to India waking up and becoming more assertive in calling out lies and facing more facts on the table for all to see.. See this latest video from Tom Lantos meeting:


Edit: should read sell out Indian political party

Don‘t be crazy /s/

Yes, and 97% of Crimea voted to be part of Russia.


It's interesting that all of the prior polling by relatively politically neutral organizations (UNDP, Razumkov Centre), even dating back to 2009-2011 before the civil war, showed widespread support for at a minimum secession from Ukraine, including multiple polls showing a majority supporting joining Russia (consistently 65% to 70% in favour) yet the whole idea of Crimeans having a voice in their own statehood was rejected outright by the UN and others.

> Razumkov characterized Crimeans' views as controversial and unsteady, and therefore vulnerable to internal and external influences.

It's true the Russian run referendum is probably a very corruptible process and unreliable but there's no clear indication that the majority of Crimeans were actually against the idea. Which IMO should matter more than what the foreign UN diplomats and think-tanks believe is best for them.

> Gallup poll found only 1.7% of ethnic Russians and 14.5% of ethnic Ukrainians living in Crimea thought that the referendum results didn't accurately reflect the views of the Crimean people.

The other side of it is whether that even matters with in the context of Ukraine's sovereignty and other issues of statehood. Plus referendums should probably not be happening in moments of anarchy. But it's not a good look for the west when trying to win them over by blaming Russian interference while glossing over potentially legitimate local support.

A big problem is that in Crimea, divisions go across ethnic lines. Crimean Tatars are a minority there, and so they get outvoted in any referendum, but for them the difference between Crimea being in Russia vs Ukraine is the difference between their autonomy and culture being respected or suppressed. One of the first things that Russia did after annexing Crimea was going after most Crimean Tatar activists and organizations under the guise of fighting extremism and separatism. So the choice is between majoritarianism and human rights, and there's no way to reconcile them.

The other aspect of it is that separatism is illegal under Russian law, period. So, ironically, while it was legal - from the Russian perspective - for Crimea to join, it is not legal for it to leave, or to contemplate leaving. Even vaguely suggesting that there should be a referendum on independence is deemed "extremism", and there are laws making that illegal (and people have been prosecuted under those laws, specifically wrt Crimea).

There was "potentially legitimate local support" from Germans living in Danzig and the Czech Sudetenland, too. The overriding principle of international law is that you shouldn't use your army to invade neighboring countries.

Indeed, it would be far more defensible if they merely seceded themselves instead of joining the bigger guy next door, with the direct intervention of their army beforehand.

I'm a big fan of smaller states and more localized governments which closer reflect the people (see: Canada, Scandinavia, Singapore, Taiwan, HK, South Korea, etc). Few people talk about the US's massive population, economic, size/scale of modern western governments growth vs the past when talking about today's political and class divides.

So my general point is that the needs/wants of the Crimeans themselves shouldn't be merely tossed aside and ignored just because Russia played a role. Especially if we're trying to prevent this from happening again. Taking the UN's elitist evil Russian boogieman approach leaves the world more vulnerable to this sort of thing, not less. Just like with ISIS/Iraq/Syria, the locals needs matter a lot more than we give them credit.

Ukrainians didn't think that Russians are evil boogiemen and look what happened to them. Better safe than sorry.

Did you not follow the whole Ukraine civil war where the entire point was the gov was going non-NATO and pro-Russian? The vast majority of Ukraine stood up to Russia at significant costs to themselves.

I agree with a lot of anti-Russian stuff (their overarching geopolitical approach not the hysteria that’s used as a political tool in the west), but that's a very strange counter-example to use...

The earlier Ukrainians had started kicking out Russian agents the lesser loss of lives and territories they would've suffered. They hesitated because they didn't see Russia as an enemy.

Right. You should only invade far away countries in the middle east.

International law used to be European law, now it's American law. And perhaps it will be Chinese law, in 50 years.

I suspect that this number is much higher. 127% maybe.

i'm a big fan of apple products and definitely bought into apple's stance -- but now i'm starting to think it's nothing more than a convenient branding campaign that only works in the USA.

all these aspects that apple markets in the USA seem to be completely negotiable anywhere in the world, and i wonder how long before they can also become negotiable in the USA.

in the USA, because of fairly well established democracy and general freedom of speech apple is able to push back on government "requests" blatantly in the open and use this openness to their advantage. everywhere else where no such transparency exists because the government completely controls the communication medium these pushbacks simply don't happen -- apple really has no interest of ever stepping out on a limb if that limb will cost them calculated market share.

it's really sad because they as a company are speaking/acting out of both of their ends, depending on the convenience of the local market. it's convenient and possible to push back in the USA, it's convenient and impossible to push back with other totalitarian regimes so they fold.

Does anyone believe in "change from the inside" any more?

From a "change from the inside" perspective, Apple can make more of a positive difference in pushing forward their agenda for countries like Russia, by staying in the Russian market, complying with a few government demands, and thus offering a sub-optimal form of their products/services—but still a form that has nonzero privacy/democracy/etc.-enhancing effects, relative to the alternatives that would fill the market in their absence.

For example, iOS devices at least have a universal base image where Apple knowingly makes these changes, and as few of them as possible; whereas Android devices get their firmware tampered with in each country by that country's OEMs, and so can be made arbitrarily compromised, including making those same changes to the maps on the client side.


Or, to put a finer point on it: a company like Apple that offers privacy/security-enhancing products, opting out of a market because that market's government sees them as a threat and wants to neuter their abilities, would be like a peacekeeping organization opting out of a country because of the very things that make countries need peacekeeping (e.g. a failed state.)

Would you pressure KFOR to leave Kosovo because the Kosovo government doesn't let them do their jobs? No, that'd be reason for them to stay.

What's suddenly different if it's a profit-motivated corporation? They're still helping citizens evade state surveillance, even if entirely for selfish reasons.

> From a "change from the inside" perspective, Apple can make more of a positive difference in pushing forward their agenda for countries like Russia, by staying in the Russian market, complying with a few government demands

How did that work in China?

More to the point, companies are not nations or governments. Having agendas for countries is not their place.

> How did that work in China?

China is mostly what I was referring to, honestly. An iOS device that can run five secure-messaging apps instead of ten is still better than an Android device that's been potentially wiretapped during last-mile delivery to the customer.

(This is the same reason that contracts from Western governments propped up RIM for a while, before Apple became a viable replacement for them. A US government official could trust a Blackberry they acquired in China, far more than they could trust a regular Chinese cellphone.)

> More to the point, companies are not nations or governments. Having agendas for countries is not their place.

Companies (at least S-corps) don't have agendas per se; but their employees, as citizens of countries, certainly do. When everybody behind the design of an iPhone lives in the US, you'd better believe that the iPhone is being designed to put forward an implicit "agenda" carried by the cultural beliefs of citizens of the US, whether Apple-as-a-profit-motivated-corporation likes it or not. (You know how there's a recent trend in the US with corporations adopting social-justice messaging in their community guidelines? Think about how that kind of support develops in a corporation, and then replace "social justice" with "foreign policy.")

That's a bit fuzzy. If you want to carry that argument further, replace employees with shareholders. Re the messaging you refer to, it's good PR and it would occur without employee activism.

I think Apple doesn't really provide anything that I consider democracy enhancing. Few big tech companies do that.

I associate democracy with choice and Apple isn't really too active in that domain. As for the services their products provide, I think that is more in line with all alternatives.

That said, Apple at least seems to have protected user data from government access. Let's see if that holds.

But in practice government would have more difficulties to include backdoors in Android for example and Apple has a single point of failure.

> I associate democracy with choice and Apple isn't really too active in that domain.

I was using "democracy" here to refer specifically to political influence of a citizen (or citizenry in the aggregate) over a state. "Democracy-enhancing" thus means "enabling or easing participation in acts of democracy" or "protecting the individual from things that would prevent them from participating in acts of democracy" (where "acts of democracy" are things like votes, campaigns, debates, referendums, demonstrations, and any associated acts of evangelism/recruitment toward those activities — basically anything listed in the "Ways citizens can participate" list here: https://www.civiced.org/resources/curriculum/lesson-plans/45...)

Most communications technologies are democracy-enhancing, even when they are actively surveilled by a state actor, since there are always some democratic acts that the state either doesn't really care about, or doesn't know how to watch for. But, of course, non-surveillable communications technologies are more democracy-enhancing.

> But in practice government would have more difficulties to include backdoors in Android for example

Note that the Chinese intelligence apparatus need not actually put any backdoors into individual Android devices, nor put any backdoors into upstream Android as an OS. They just need to request that Chinese OEMs like Huawei backdoor their own Android distributions, and then let the state shoulder-surf the results; while also helping the OEMs out with funding for PR campaigns that encourage the use of domestic OEM brands over foreign OEM brands. The government doesn't even need any developers to do this; just money and strongly-worded letters!

I gotta say this is a pretty weak move on apples part. If apple really wants to be a cultural force, hard decisions must be made. Bowing to any government leader in any country is a slippery slope.

Apple doesn't want to be a cultural force. Apple want to sell phones. They have to comply with local law to do so.

Doing otherwise is "bias" and "politics". Now, you may argue that Apple should be biased towards the Western view of the world, and have its own politics of national recognition, but there is substantial pushback against big tech companies having a political bias.

the problem is that even if i had a knee jerk reaction (i slightly did ;) ) and said 1)i should take a stance against apple 2) google is not an alternative -- what are my options? i can try to hack together some lineageOS device or something else, which will ruin the camera experience for me -- probably the most important feature of my smartphone for me.

on top of that, i'll still have to rely on google for map /traffic data as i'm not aware of any other well established alternatives -- but what's worse is that i'm still in the USA and while google shows me a free and liberated map of a world it obviously can be showing someone in russia/iran/china something completely different and 'local' to them.

how does one really fight this?

here maps. It's nokia. They're great. Not quite as good as google's offering, but better than apples.

It was Nokia to be precise. Nokia sold it to AUDI, BMW and Daimler in 2015

Missed that some how. Thanks. Looks like other have come on board as well now.

How does it handle the Crimea question?

That’s true for all companies. Do you think that Facebook could take the “principled stand” of not putting their servers in countries with non democratically elected governments if any of those countries actually allowed FaceBook? Of course they can be principled about not putting their servers in China since FB isn’t allowed there anyway.

To be clear - this is a change in the way the maps are displayed when viewed from inside Russia only.

What you're indirectly saying is: Apple should break the law in countries that don't follow western ideals. This is a slipppery slope. Do you really want companies to fight over what they think is morally right?

...because then get ready for Xiaomi sending the floor plan from your Roomba straight to the chinese government.

...or what if Telegram suddenly started banning gay users because that's obviously wrong and immoral by Russian standards?

...or what if American Ad-Companies decided that they "morally disagree" with GDPR.

Just like any individual person, Companies can fight for their ideals as long as they follow the law of wherever they are.

But Apple is already doing that - they’re building their perception, at least in USA, as freedom of speech and privacy fighting company, with Tim leading the way sharing his personal experience being a gay man. Where is Tim’s aversion to oppression and discrimination when it comes to standing up to Russia and China? If Tim was an open gay Joe Schmo waking around in st Petersburg he would be considered a criminal. So yes - Apple does try to speak out of both ends and that’s my issue here: at least every other tech company acts as a corporation putting profit and market penetration first, only Apple tries very hard, in USA, to make it seem like they stand for something more only to immediately roll over behind the scenes.

I think you misunderstood. Yes, they're "fighting" for certain ideals - but only where it's legal to do so.

If the USA proposed a law that forced them to hand over all user data, they would of course try to fight it. But if it was passed, do you really think they would suddenly stop doing business in the USA because of their ideals?

> If Tim was an open gay Joe Schmo waking around in st Petersburg he would be considered a criminal.

It's not true. There are some laws against LGBT in Russia, but being gay is not prosecuted.

But there are sure some anti-gay laws in Saudi Arabia, which, AFAIK is not suppressed by any of US sanctions.

small sidenote -- telegram has nothing to do with russia, the founder had to flee russia to ensure his freedom, and that was _before_ he created telegram.

This probably happens a lot more than you realize. Border and geographic name disputes can get very political and potentially violent.

Off the top of my head:

* Persian/Arabian Gulf

* Palestine/Israel

* Western Sahara/Morocco

* Kashmir

* Antarctica!

Every map you see in Chile & Argentina includes a large pie-slice of the continent... and pretty close to being the same pie slice as each other's.

Not to mention some islands which one of them tried to take over, once upon a time.

Another big one: naming of oceans in southeast Asia. There's the South China Sea / West Philipppine Sea, for example, or the Sea of Japan / Sea of Korea / East Sea.

* The Netherlands/Germany


Note the overlapping borders that makes a bit of sea part of both countries.

This is strictly a non-violent matter of differing border interpretations though, with almost no judicial or maritime consequences.

Kosovo and Macedonia could also be added to that list.

Not to mention myriad of minor border disputes pretty much everywhere across the world.

Nagorno-Karabakh. Even Kosovo isn't really settled, and is probably the easiest one for a European to reach.

Interesting historical background (not taking sides here).

Russia sold Alaska to America to pay for the debt accrued from the Crimean War.[0]

It was Nikita Khrushchev who decided to hand over Crimea as territory of Ukraine.[1]


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_transfer_of_Crimea

Ukraine was much larger before Soviet invasion. Crimea and Kuban were removed first, then Crimea granted back in exchange of other territories of same size at North and East of Ukraine, then Crimean is captured again. Never trust Russians.

Kuban and Crimea was conquered by Russian Empress Catherine the Great from Ottomans and local Golden Horde debrises.

Ukraine was never considered non-Russian state until the fall of Soviets in 199x. Even when it gained short independency in 1917 by the rulings of the Brest Peace, it proclaimed itself as part of some new Russian Federation(that idea was not really liked by bolsheviks and they eliminated that state).

Even then Crimea wasn't the part of the Ukraine. It was added to Ukraine only in 1954, when Ukrainian-born Khruschev gave it to Ukraine without some plebiscite or other voting.

There were some lands that were really given to Ukraine for exchange for Kuban - the West Ukraine, which belonged to Poland before WWII.

Ukraine IS Russia. When Peter I conquered Russia, it appended "Emperor of Russia" (Царь всея Русси) to his title. Ukraine IS the Russian state. Russians call themselves "Russish" (русские), and their country Rossiia (Россия), to distinguish themselves from Russians (русичи, русины) and Russia (Русся, Русь)

Crimea and Cuban were part of Ukraine prior to soviet invasion. Look at maps of Ukraine in 1919-1920: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_People%27s_Republic .

Well it looks that you are not Russian, your word analysis is quite wrong. We call ourselves русские(Russians) to distinguish ourselves from россияне(citizens of Russia).

It's meaningless to look at maps of Ukraine in 1919-1920, because it was failed state at that time, born by total chaos brought by Bolshevik's rebellion and defeat in WWI, caused by it. Also Crimea was not a part of Ukraine even then, they had their very own independent republic.

Ukrainians considered Russians in the Empire, at least those who lived on the left bank of Dnieper.

Ukraine Republic was failed because of invasion. It's meaningless to talk with aggressor.

BTW: can you explain meaning of "scratch Russish and you will find Tatar/поскреби русского и найдёш татарина"? WTF is "russificated peoples/обрусевшие народы"?

Invasion was succesful because people did not support the Ukrainian government and considered themselves Russian. Unfortunately they were betrayed by Bolsheviks then.

About Russian and Tatar - the original usage of that phrase differs from current. It was used in 19 century to present Russia as some barbarian horde, not European country it was these days.

I think the origins of the phrase was in the book "La Russie en 1839", which is basically a piece of anti-Russian propaganda of 19 century.

Обрусевшие народы - ethnicities that lost(sometimes partially) their identities and now are considered Russians. Russia is actually a melting pot of quite different ethnicities, including mongoloid and slavic ones. For convenience some of these ethnicities are considered just Russians.

Being Russian is not really an ethnic thing - it's more of cultural one.

What a world we live in! Each country gets its own version of alternative reality.

This scenario is so common and the list of disputed territories is so long that it should be a standard.

It could be a bit like the timezones, the locale, or the decimal point separator, or other things like that. It should be an option at the OS level that you can configure, not be forced into.

There should be a common database that you can integrate in your map, a bit like timezone historical records, and the user should be able to see the map as claimed by any given country/territory. By default this could depend on your location or locale but it should definitely be possible to always see the map as the other side of the dispute has it, and to configure your device so that it shows maps (for all map software on the device), from a given perspective.

That's not a new thing. Maps have been political for ages. Mandating the shape of border lines on maps has been a part of many border disputes.

Also, it's eye opening to read or watch news from other countries. There's a big country-specific bias in the selection of international news stories. This bias is a necessary evil, but it can have a huge political and cultural impact.

It should be marked as disputed, from both sides, like "agreed to disagree".

Think what would happen if the UK took back Hong Kong, or if Hong Kong declared itself independent. We - westerners - would all love that and accept it immediately. Would we have a problem then with Apple if they showed HK as a separate country?

"It should be marked as disputed"

That's not how international law works. By all means maps may be tailored to suit the preferences of markets/countries, but military conquest of a territory doesn't convert it to a "disputed" status. Currently the internationally-recognised borders between Ukraine/Russia are well-defined.

> We - westerners - would all love [the UK invading and annexing Hong Kong] and accept it immediately.

What rot!

Both Russia and Ukraine claim the territory of Crimea, and it is therefore disputed.

> but military conquest of a territory doesn't convert it to a "disputed" status.

Many territories are disputed without conflict. If military conquest, occupation and de facto control of a territory doesn't reify a dispute, then nothing does.

For examples: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_territorial_disputes

You might want to have a look at Taiwan.

That's not surprising given that borders are not in any way "reality". They are mutually agreed upon conventions that, well, not everyone agrees upon.

It should be no more surprising than having a British English dictionary and an American English dictionary, only with higher stakes.

Many borders are reality. Try to trespass a border and watch who captures you. That's the entity which controls the border.

Depends in which direction.

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