Airbnb suspends all bookings in Russia and Belarus

Airbnb suspends all bookings in Russia and Belarus 2
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Airbnb and Microsoft have become the latest big global firms to halt operations in Russia, as a flood of Western companies add their own punishments to official sanctions against Moscow for invading Ukraine.

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Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on Thursday announced the suspension, which also includes Russian ally Belarus. It aligns his company with other major Western names severing ties with Russia including General Motors, Boeing and Google.

The exodus of Western firms is adding to pressure on Vladimir Putin, and everyday Russians are no longer able to buy Apple’s iPhone, Nike sneakers or IKEA furniture after those companies halted all exports to the country.

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As well, Microsoft said on Friday it was suspending new sales of its products and services in Russia, a further step after it removed RT’s mobile apps from the Windows App Store and banned advertisements on Russian state-sponsored media. 

And New York Stock Exchange halted trading in a number of Russia-exposed ETFs, shutting off one of the only remaining avenues for average Americans to invest in Russian assets.  

Airbnb previously said its non-profit arm would offer free, temporary housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.  

Chesky also said that some people were using Airbnb to book accommodations in Ukraine even though they didn’t plan to stay there, as a way to send financial support to Ukrainians.

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The exodus of Western firms is adding to pressure on Vladimir Putin, and everyday Russians are no longer able to buy Apple's iPhone, Nike sneakers or IKEA furniture after those companies halted all exports to the country

The exodus of Western firms is adding to pressure on Vladimir Putin, and everyday Russians are no longer able to buy Apple’s iPhone, Nike sneakers or IKEA furniture after those companies halted all exports to the country

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on Thursday announced the suspension of operations in Russia and Belarus

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on Thursday announced the suspension of operations in Russia and Belarus

Airbnb, which is recovering from a pandemic-induced lull, has forecast bumper first-quarter results on strong demand in the United States and longer stays by guests.

It did not immediately respond to a request for additional details on the suspensions in Russia and Belarus. Europe, the Middle East and Africa is Airbnb’s second-biggest market after North America.

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Airbnb suspends all bookings in Russia and Belarus 3

Harley-Davidson, HSBC, BP and Shell have all already announced they are leaving Russia, while Mastercard and Visa have even blocked Russian institutions from using its payment systems.

No part of life has been left untouched, with Disney joining other film companies in pausing the release of its films in the country, meaning the upcoming Pixar film Lightyear might not be shown on big screens.

Netflix has also said that it is cancelling upcoming projects in Russia, pulling the plug on planned shows to be filmed there. 

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Russians will also miss out on Western musical acts, with Green Day, Iggy Pop, and The Killers among those cancelling upcoming concerts in Moscow. 

Streaming service Spotify announced it was closing its Russian office indefinitely as a response to the conflict.

The company had only opened the office to comply with Russian laws that oblige foreign social media companies with more than 500,000 daily users to open local offices or face tough restrictions, or even being banned. 

Earlier this week the firm removed all content from state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik in territories across the world, apart from in Russia itself, where it remained online. 

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In the US, at least 10 states have banned the sale of Russian vodka, and others have moved to divest state pension funds from any Russian assets or forbid state contracts with Russian companies.

In total more than $100 billion of trade ties have already been severed with the increasingly isolated nation, with no sign that the ever-widening embargo is losing momentum.

In the US, at least 10 states have banned the sale of Russian vodka, and others have moved to divest state pension funds from any Russian assets or forbid state contracts with Russian companies

In the US, at least 10 states have banned the sale of Russian vodka, and others have moved to divest state pension funds from any Russian assets or forbid state contracts with Russian companies

Hollywood pulls film releases from Russian cinemas, Netflix cancels new shows and US bands cancel tour plans 

Netflix has temporarily stopped all future projects and acquisitions in Russia as it assesses the impact of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

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The streaming giant had four Russian-language series in production and post-production, including ‘Zato’, a detective drama.

Russia has been facing boycott in the film and TV industry. The Cannes film festival issued a statement on Tuesday saying it would ban official Russian delegations from its 2022 festival unless the Ukraine conflict ends.

Earlier this week, Netflix said that in the current circumstances it has no plans to add state-run channels to its Russian service, despite a regulation that would require it to distribute state-backed channels.

Russia is one of the 190 countries where Netflix is available.

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As well, Hollywood studios Disney, Warner Bros, and Sony Pictures Entertainment said they would pause theatrical releases of upcoming films in Russia. 

Warner Bros. announced on Monday that it was cancelling its Russian release of The Batman originally slated for March 2, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Warner Bros.’ statement read, ‘In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia. 

‘We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy,’ the Warner statement concluded. 

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The Walt Disney Company also issued a statement revealing they are cancelling all of their upcoming theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming Turning Red, originally slated for release in Russia on March 10.

Actor Robert Pattinson poses during the world premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures, 'The Batman' at Lincoln Center in New York. The film will not be screened in Russia after Hollywood studios

Actor Robert Pattinson poses during the world premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures, ‘The Batman’ at Lincoln Center in New York. The film will not be screened in Russia after Hollywood studios 

Disney released a statement on Monday afternoon, which read, ‘Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Turning Red from Pixar.’

‘We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees,’ the Disney statement concluded.

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Sony Pictures also issued a statement that it was cancelling Morbius’ release in Russia, originally slated for March 24, along with other future releases.

Sony’s statement began, ‘Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming release of Morbius.’ 

Meanwhile, a number of US musical acts have pulled the plug on plans to perform in Russia.

The 'Godfather of Punk' Iggy Pop has canceled his appearance at the Park Live festival in Moscow on July 10

The ‘Godfather of Punk’ Iggy Pop has canceled his appearance at the Park Live festival in Moscow on July 10

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Green Day on Sunday took to Instagram to announce they were not going to play their May 29 show at Moscow's Spartak Stadium

Green Day on Sunday took to Instagram to announce they were not going to play their May 29 show at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium 

The ‘Godfather of Punk’ Iggy Pop has canceled his appearance at the Park Live festival in Moscow on July 10.

The Passenger vocalist, whose real name is James Osterberg Jr., pulled out of the festival a day after the band The Killers canceled their scheduled outing at the festival, citing the ongoing conflict. 

Iggy Pop is the latest musical artist to cancel scheduled shows in Russia, as notable names including Green Day, Louis Tomlinson and Franz Ferdinand have also nixed shows in the wake of Russian forces invading Ukraine last week.

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Green Day on Sunday took to Instagram to announce they were not going to play their May 29 show at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium.

‘We are aware that this moment is not about stadium rock shows, it’s much bigger than that. But we also know that rock and roll is forever and we feel confident there will be a time and a place for us to return in the future,’ the band, which consists of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool, said in a statement. ‘Refunds available at the point of purchase. Stay safe.’ 

Key financial firms suspend business in Russia 

BlackRock said on Friday the New York Stock Exchange Arca had suspended trading in the asset manager’s iShares MSCI Russia exchange traded fund, following sanctions by Western governments against Russia after its military invasion of Ukraine.

BlackRock said it supported the move due to the ETF’s concentrated exposure to Russian equities, the closure of the stock market in Moscow and MSCI’s decision to remove Russian securities from its indexes.

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Earlier this week, a top executive at equity index provider MSCI termed Russia’s stock market as ‘uninvestable’ after stringent Western sanctions and central bank curbs on trading.

BlackRock said it will update clients on future developments related to the ETF.

Visa said on Monday it was taking prompt action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, adding that it will donate $2 million for humanitarian aid. Mastercard also promised to contribute $2 million.

‘We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve,’ Mastercard said in a separate statement late on Monday.

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The government sanctions require Visa to suspend access to its network for entities listed as Specially Designated Nationals, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. 

It means that clients at three of Russia’s 10 largest banks – VTB, private lender Sovcombank and central-bank-owned Otkritie – can no longer pay with ApplePay and GooglePay services.

That has created problems for metro users in Moscow, forcing commuters to buy one of the transport system’s Troika cards, use a plastic card or sign up to the city’s facial recognition Face Pay system instead.

The United States has added various Russian financial firms to the list, including the country’s central bank and second-largest lender VTB.

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Airbnb suspends all bookings in Russia and Belarus 5

A man walks past a digital board showing Russian rouble exchange rates against the euro and the US dollar outside a currency exchange office in Moscow on Tuesday

A man walks past a digital board showing Russian rouble exchange rates against the euro and the US dollar outside a currency exchange office in Moscow on Tuesday

A person holds cash withdrawn from an ATM machine at a Sberbank branch in Moscow

A person holds cash withdrawn from an ATM machine at a Sberbank branch in Moscow

Global bank HSBC is also beginning to wind down relations with a host of Russian banks including the second-largest, VTB.

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The bank has little direct exposure in Russia, with around 200 employees and annual revenues of $15 million in the country, against its global income of $50 billion.

Nordic lender Nordea said it had suspended trading in investment funds heavily exposed to Russia

Major money managers, including hedge fund Man Group and British asset manager abrdn, have been cutting their positions in Russia even as the rouble slumped to a record low and trading froze on its bonds.

‘There is certainly a willingness from asset managers and benchmark providers to get rid of Russia exposure in their portfolios and indexes,’ said Kaspar Hense, a senior portfolio manager at Bluebay Asset Management in London.

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‘The big question is where do buyers turn up?’

Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International is also looking into leaving Russia, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, a move that would make it the first European bank to do so since the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

India’s top lender will not process any transactions involving Russian entities subject to international sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, according to a letter seen by Reuters and people familiar with the matter. 

People stand in line to withdraw U.S. dollars and Euros from an ATM in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday. Ordinary Russians faced the prospect of higher prices and crimped foreign travel as Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine sent the ruble plummeting

People stand in line to withdraw U.S. dollars and Euros from an ATM in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday. Ordinary Russians faced the prospect of higher prices and crimped foreign travel as Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine sent the ruble plummeting

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Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday announced the country will temporarily stop foreign investors from selling Russian assets to ensure they take a considered decision, but did not give details.

Moscow’s move to impose capital controls mean that billions of dollars worth of securities held by foreigners in Russia are at risk of being trapped.

British asset manager Liontrust has suspended dealing in its Russia fund, while the prices of some of the most popular Russia-focused exchange traded funds were trading at a discount to their net asset values.

Ratings agency Fitch has identified 11 Russia-focused funds which have been suspended, with total assets under management of 4.4 billion euros ($4.92 billion) at end-January, a spokesperson said by email.

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Energy firms including Shell and BP sever ties 

BP is abandoning its 19.75 percent stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft.

Shell said it would exit all its Russian operations, including the flagship Sakhalin 2 LNG plant in which it holds a 27.5 percent stake, and which is 50 percent owned and operated by Gazprom.

France’s TotalEnergies said it would no longer provide capital for new projects in Russia. 

Shell said it would exit all its Russian operations, including the flagship Sakhalin 2 LNG plant in which it holds a 27.5 percent stake (file photo)

Shell said it would exit all its Russian operations, including the flagship Sakhalin 2 LNG plant in which it holds a 27.5 percent stake (file photo)

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Norwegian energy group Equinor will start the process of divesting from its joint ventures in Russia. 

The company has been present in Russia for over 30 years, and in 2012 agreed to a strategic cooperation with Rosneft.

Denmark’s Orsted has stopped sourcing Russian coal and biomass for its power plants but will continue to buy up to two billion cubic metres of natural gas from Gazprom per year under a long-term contract.

Orsted also said it was not entering into new contracts with companies or using suppliers from Russia.

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Shipping firms halt deliveries, leaving Russia isolated

U.S.-based United Parcel Service and FedEx, two of the world’s largest logistics companies, have said they are halting delivery services to Russia and Ukraine.

Container shipping company Ocean Network Express on Monday suspended bookings to and from Russia.

U.S.-based United Parcel Service and FedEx, two of the world's largest logistics companies, have said they are halting delivery services to Russia (file photo)

U.S.-based United Parcel Service and FedEx, two of the world’s largest logistics companies, have said they are halting delivery services to Russia (file photo)

Some of the companies cutting ties with Russia 

  • Adidas
  • BP
  • Dell
  • DHL
  • Disney
  • Ericsson
  • FedEx
  • GM
  • Harley-Davidson
  • HSBC
  • Mastercard
  • Nokia
  • Shell
  • Sony
  • Uber
  • UPS
  • Visa
  • Volvo
  • Warner Bros.

Shipping group Maersk will temporarily halt all container shipping to and from Russia in response to Western sanctions on Moscow.

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Maersk operates container shipping routes to St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea, Novorossiysk in the Black Sea, and Vladivostok and Vostochny on Russia’s east coast.

Deutsche Post announced it had stopped DHL deliveries to Russia.

German shipping company Hapag Lloyd said it had issued a temporary suspension on bookings for Russia and halted sailings for Ukraine.

Shipping company MSC has stopped cargo bookings to and from Russian but will still accept and screen food and humanitarian cargoes.

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Automakers halt production and sales in Russia 

General Motors said it would suspend all vehicle exports to Russia until further notice. 

The Detroit company does not have plants in Russia, only sells about 3,000 vehicles annually there and has limited supply-chain exposure.

Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson said it had suspended its business and shipments of its bikes to Russia. 

Daimler Truck said it would freeze its business activities in Russia with immediate effect, including its cooperation with Russian truck maker Kamaz.

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Its pre-spinoff parent company, Mercedes-Benz Group , is looking into legal options to divest its 15 percent stake in Kamaz as quickly as possible.

Sweden’s Volvo Cars said it would suspend car shipments to the Russian market until further notice. Volvo sold around 9,000 cars in Russia in 2021, based on industry data.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors said it may suspend production and sale of its cars in Russia as economic sanctions could trigger supply chain disruptions.

French carmaker Renault will suspend some operations at its car assembly plants in Russia next week due to logistics bottlenecks.

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Renault is among the Western companies most exposed to Russia, where it makes 8 percent of its core earnings, according to Citibank. It also controls Avtovaz, Russia’s biggest carmaker.

Luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) also paused the delivery of vehicles to Russia.

Vladimir Putin (second from left) rides a Harley Davidson Lehman Trike in 2010. Harley-Davidson said it had suspended its business and shipments of its bikes to Russia

Vladimir Putin (second from left) rides a Harley Davidson Lehman Trike in 2010. Harley-Davidson said it had suspended its business and shipments of its bikes to Russia

Other sectors: Companies from Uber to Adidas seek exit

Uber is speeding up its work disentangling itself from a Russian partner, the company said on Monday. 

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Uber in July 2017 announced that it was forming a partnership with the Russian company Yandex, an online giant to rival Google that offers search engines, music streaming, emails, advertising and autonomous cars.

At the time, Yandex was one of Russia’s most successful internet enterprises, accounting for some 65 percent of all searches and operating popular map and public transit apps.

The deal, which went into effect in 2018, was valued at about $3.7 billion. 

Meanwhile, Finnish tire maker Nokian Tyres is shifting production of some of its key product lines from Russia to Finland and the United States. 

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A taxi operated by Uber, through their joint venture with Yandex, is seen on the streets of Moscow on February 23. On Monday Uber announced they were 'accelerating' moves begun last year to end their partnership with the Russian firm

A taxi operated by Uber, through their joint venture with Yandex, is seen on the streets of Moscow on February 23. On Monday Uber announced they were ‘accelerating’ moves begun last year to end their partnership with the Russian firm

Nokian produces approximately 80 percent of its annual capacity of 20 million tires in Russia, where it employs around 1,600 people, a company spokesperson said.

Finnish chemical company Kemira discontinued deliveries to Russia and Belarus from March 1 until further notice.

Laptop maker Dell Technologies Inc said it had suspended product sales in Ukraine and Russia.

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German sportswear company Adidas has suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Union (RFS) with immediate effect. 

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson is suspending its deliveries to Russia as it assesses the potential impact of sanctions on its business there.

Nokia will stop deliveries to Russia to comply with sanctions. It supplies MTS, Vimpelcom, Megafon and Tele2 in Russia.

Swedish engineering group Sandvik is suspending its operations in Russia.

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Sandvik generated around 3.5 percent of its 2021 revenue in Russia. The group has no production in the country but about 900 employees in sales and services.

The world’s biggest aircraft leasing company AerCap Holdings , headquartered in Dublin, will cease leasing activity with Russian airlines.

The company says about 5 percent of its fleet by net book value was on lease to Russian airlines at the end of 2021. 

Russian vodka removed from shelves across the US 

At least ten states have ordered a ban on the sale of Russian vodka in response to the invasion of Ukraine. 

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Officials in Alabama, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia – all states that control the sale of alcohol – have directed Russian-sourced alcohol to be removed from store shelves.

‘Utah stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will not support Russian enterprises, no matter how small the exchange,’ Republican Utah Governor Spencer Cox said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, posted on Twitter over the weekend that he has asked restaurants and retailers ‘ to voluntarily remove all Russian products from their shelves.’ 

Many bars and liquor store owners have also begun voluntarily dumping out Russian-branded spirits such as Russian Standard and Stolichnaya in protest against Putin’s invasion. 

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At Ann’s Deli & Bakery, a longtime fixture selling Russian goods in Chicago, a sign greeted shoppers Monday, saying: ‘Ann’s Bakery no longer supplies Russian-made products.’ 

The same type of messages have popped up mainly at liquor stores around the country. 

A sign in the vodka area of a Pennsylvania Fine Wine and Good Spirits store reflects the states decision to withdraw Russian-made products for sale in Harmony, Pennsylvania

A sign in the vodka area of a Pennsylvania Fine Wine and Good Spirits store reflects the states decision to withdraw Russian-made products for sale in Harmony, Pennsylvania

An empty space is seen on a shelf where Russian vodka used to be displayed for sale at a Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority store in Arlington, Virginia. Russian vodka will no longer be sold at state controlled stores in Virginia

An empty space is seen on a shelf where Russian vodka used to be displayed for sale at a Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority store in Arlington, Virginia. Russian vodka will no longer be sold at state controlled stores in Virginia

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Ronnie Heckman, 31, holds Titos vodka, made in Texas, which he used to prepare a 'Kyiv Mule', traditionally called a Moscow Mule, at Caddies bar and grill in Bethesda, Maryland after the bar got rid of all Russian vodka

Ronnie Heckman, 31, holds Titos vodka, made in Texas, which he used to prepare a ‘Kyiv Mule’, traditionally called a Moscow Mule, at Caddies bar and grill in Bethesda, Maryland after the bar got rid of all Russian vodka

In West New York, liquor store Attica Wine & Spirits announced Friday that it would be doing away with its Russian-made spirits, saying it would be selling off remaining Russian items at a reduced rate in an effort to rid their supply.

‘Due to the current situation in Ukraine, we have decided to remove all items made in Russia from our shelves,’ the liquor store, located 30 miles east of Buffalo wrote in a post on Facebook.

‘These items will be discounted until gone. Thanks for your understanding.’

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The store then announced in a subsequent post Sunday it was going to replace Russian-made vodkas with Vodka from the Ukraine next week. ‘Starting next week, Ukrainian vodka will be taking the place of Russian vodka on our shelves,’ owners wrote.  

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