Airbnb is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus, the company’s CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky announced on Twitter. Airbnb’s decision comes as numerous companies are withdrawing operations in Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.
A spokesperson from Airbnb told TechCrunch in an email: “This means that we will block calendars from accepting new bookings in both countries until further notice. We will also restrict users in Belarus and Russia from making new reservations as guests.”
Airbnb joins a growing list of companies that have withdrawn their operations in Russia in recent days. Apple announced that it has halted product sales in Russia. The hardware giant also pulled Sputnik and RT News from the App Store and disabled some Apple Pay services in the country. In addition, Google suspended advertising in Russia, according to a report from The New York Times. The company also followed Apple’s lead and removed the apps of RT and Sputnik from its mobile app store.
The announcement from Airbnb comes a few days after the company said that it will facilitate free and temporary housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. The company will fund the stays with help from Airbnb hosts and donations to Airbnb.org, which provides people with emergency housing in times of crisis.
“We need help to meet this goal,” Chesky tweeted on Monday. “The greatest need we have is for more people who can offer their homes in nearby countries, including Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania.”
Chesky has also said some people around the world are booking Airbnbs in Ukraine, without the intention to stay in them, to send financial help to hosts in the country.
Airbnb’s move to provide free housing comes as the company has historically facilitated free housing to those in need over the past few years. Last September, the company said it planned to provide housing to 40,000 Afghan refugees, which was double its initial goal of 20,000 announced in August. Airbnb says that as of last week, it has provided housing to 21,300 Afghan refugees and has set a new goal of providing housing to another 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, and other regions. Its plan to offer housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine is in addition to this broader effort.
In 2017, the company offered free housing to stranded refugees, students and green card holders affected by former President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting refugees. More recently, Airbnb provided free or subsidized housing for 100,000 healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company says that over the past five years, Airbnb and Airbnb.org have connected more than 54,000 refugees, including from Syria, Venezuela and Afghanistan, to temporary housing.