09 June 2022

Yandex's Disappearing Borders

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, I have periodically looked at Yandex Maps (Russia’s version of Google Maps) to see if there have been any name or region changes, particularly the Russian-declared “people’s republics” in the Donbas. Surprisingly, as war experts and cartographers rushed to keep up with daily maps of the tactical borders of the war, there were no immediate changes on Yandex. 

However, this morning, I saw that Jake Cordell of Reuters and other news outlets reported that Yandex Maps has removed the international borders. Yandex Maps has seemingly removed national borders. All of them.

This was noticed around 4 June, the say after the founder and CEO of Yandex, Arkady Volozh, was sanctioned by the EU and subsequently resigned. 

Today, Yandex put out a statement saying that its main scenario/service to its users was to help find organizations, places, public transport, and auto routes. Where their main service/scenario is not used will become physical and geographical. “The emphasis will be on natural objects, not on the borders of states.” It goes on to say, “Our task is to display the world around us. Therefore, mountains, rivers, polar circles lines and other data typical of this type of maps will appear on the map. Changes will appear gradually.”

I located a screenshot of what the map looked like before and the same map today. Ignore the pins on the map, but note the lack of borders. 

Source: Google Images search for “screenshot of yandex maps”.

Source: Vue Yandex Maps Examples on CodeSandbox.

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