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Airbnb, Booking.com halt operations in Russia over Ukraine invasion

Both firms also freeze business in neighboring Belarus, as they become latest Western companies to pull out of Russia over war

Illustrative: Traffic moves along the multi-lane highway in Moscow, with the modern city skyscrapers illuminating the skyline in Moscow, Russia, on July 8, 2016.  (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Illustrative: Traffic moves along the multi-lane highway in Moscow, with the modern city skyscrapers illuminating the skyline in Moscow, Russia, on July 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Home-sharing firm Airbnb and online travel agency Booking.com join other prominent Western companies in suspending operations in Russia over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The United States and European allies have imposed tough sanctions on Russia over the attack, with major corporations across a range of industries freezing business in the country.

Airbnb’s co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, who has added a Ukrainian flag to his Twitter profile, tweeted Thursday that the company “is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus,” without giving further details.

The vacation-rentals platform also announced on Monday that it would offer free short-term stays for up to 100,000 people fleeing fighting in Ukraine.

The California-based company has meanwhile faced scrutiny over its presence in China in recent weeks.

Research released this month showed Airbnb had hundreds of listings in Xinjiang and Tibet, two regions where China stands accused of widespread human rights abuses.

Airbnb told AFP at the time that it operates “where the US government allows us to” and has a “rigorous process… to help ensure we follow applicable rules.”

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks during an event in San Francisco, on February 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Booking CEO Glenn Fogel wrote in a LinkedIn post on Friday: “With each passing day, as the urgency of this devastating war in Ukraine intensifies, so do the complexities of doing business in the region.”

Booking also suspended travel services in Belarus, Fogel said.

Shares of both companies were down more than 6% each in afternoon trading, according to Reuters.

Intel announced they were pausing business in Russia and Belarus on Thursday. “Intel condemns the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and we have suspended all shipments to customers in both Russia and Belarus,” the chipmaker said in a statement.

Apple also halted all product sales in Russia and limited the use of Apple Pay, while Facebook, YouTube, and Microsoft have moved to curb the reach of Russian state-linked news outlets.

Since the beginning of the Russian offensive, 1.45 million refugees have left the Eastern European country, the United Nations said Saturday.

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