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Behind Canva’s decision to exit Russia

We stand firmly in support of Ukraine, and in support of peace and freedom.

Like billions of people around the world, we’re shocked and heartbroken to see the continued war crimes and the loss of thousands of innocent lives as Russia continues its illegal war in Ukraine. As we shared(opens in a new tab or window) in early March, we stand vehemently opposed to the Russian government’s continued acts of aggression, and we’re committed to standing for peace and safety everywhere – which is why we’re blocking access to Canva in Russia for the foreseeable future.

As this unjust war approaches its 100th day, I wanted to provide some more context on this decision and the work we’ve been doing since February to support Ukraine.

Canva’s Support for Ukraine

When we first learned of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, our immediate focus was on what we could do to provide relief and crisis support to those who had been directly impacted – including our team and their families, our Ukrainian Creators and Contributors, and the millions of people who were forced to flee their homes and communities.

This included deploying US$1,000,000 in donations through the Canva Foundation, relocating our team and their families in the affected areas, matching our team donations towards nonprofits that could help on the ground, and using our platform as a vehicle to empower everyday Russian people to stand up for peace. We also ceased all payments in the region on March 1st to ensure we weren’t contributing to the Russian economy or benefiting from keeping Canva available in the country.

With increasing levels of propaganda and heavy restrictions on access to most communication platforms within Russia, we knew we had an important role and responsibility to provide a channel for promoting accurate and important information. This included providing our global community, and particularly our Russian community, with access to pro-peace and anti-war content(opens in a new tab or window) to champion important messages about peace, unity, and support.

These templates have already been used more than 320,000 times to empower protest and activism around the world, with Russia being one of the top countries creating and sharing these.

Our Decision to Exit Russia

While we’re proud of the impact we’ve been able to have by raising awareness within Russia through our anti-war templates and banners, with the war escalating and the Russian government continuing to tighten its grip on protest and activism, we know the situation has now changed and our response must change with it.

Though there was room for voices and protest during the early stages of the war, the Russian government has now shut down the vast majority of communication channels, making it impossible for people to voice dissent. Those who do find workarounds or stand up in opposition to the government now face horrendous charges and prison sentences for speaking out.

Since the outset of the war, we’ve been consulting and working with those who are most affected: from those fleeing the conflict on the ground to digital rights organizations and our Ukrainian and Russian team members. Most recently, in talking with the Ukrainian government to better understand the ongoing changes in the war, the decreasing impact that our platform can now have inside Russia became apparent to us. Our goal has always been to most effectively support Ukraine and respond in the manner most likely to help bring an end to the war, which is why we’re fully withdrawing from Russia today.

It’s only through collective listening, learning, and action that we can contribute to making the world a better place. Our pro-peace and anti-war templates will remain available to those outside Russia that wish to continue to use their voice and reach to make a difference and inspire others to get behind the cause.

We adamantly believe everyone, everywhere, should have an unequivocal right to peace and safety. We stand for Ukraine, and we’ll always stand up for what we believe is right.