Apple's iPhone 14 goes on sale in Russia despite company's exit over Ukraine war

Telecoms operator MTS starts taking orders, with a Russian official saying consumers will be able to buy the device

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Pre-orders for the iPhone 14 opened in Russia on Thursday, despite Apple closing stores in the country earlier this year over the war in Ukraine.

Apple halted product sales in March, a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, along with dozens of companies that pulled out of the country over western sanctions and consumer pressure.

However, on Thursday morning, Russian mobile network MTS was already taking orders for the latest iPhone models. Prices start from 84,990 roubles ($1,398) for the 128GB version.

Delivery could take up to 120 days, with MTS saying it reserves the right to cancel orders if it faces difficulties in importing the devices.

However, Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov suggested that customers would not face difficulties acquiring the latest iPhone due to a programme announced by the government that allows retailers to import products from abroad, even without the trademark owner’s permission.

Despite closing its stores in Russia, Apples iPhones, MacBook laptops and other products are still readily available in shops, thanks to the import programme and leftover stock.

Asked by RIA Novosti news agency whether the new iPhone, unveiled by Apple on Wednesday, would be imported under the programme, Mr Manturov, who is also one of Russia's deputy prime ministers, said: “Why not? If consumers want to buy these phones, yes. There will be the opportunity.”

Apple has not commented on the matter.

Mr Manturov said last month that the programme, which covers western products ranging from luxury clothes to cars, could reach $16 billion in value this year. This is equal to about 4 per cent of Russia's 2021 imports.

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Updated: September 08, 2022, 9:25 AM