Airbnb Bans People in Russia From Booking Rooms Abroad

Airbnb has banned residents of Russia and Belarus from booking or staying at any Airbnb locations in the world, the company has announced.

The home rental company has canceled all existing bookings in the two countries starting from April 4 or after, with hosts no longer able to accept reservations.

The ban follows the suspension of Airbnb operations in the countries announced a month ago which prevented visitors to Russia and Belarus from booking accommodation there.

The new move was first announced by Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky on Twitter.

A translation of the announcement of the ban in Russian language on the company's website initially sparked outrage and confusion.

The misleading translation —"guests from Russia and Belarus can no longer make reservations on Airbnb"—suggested all Russian and Belarusian nationals anywhere in the world were banned, not just those inside the two countries.

In the original English-language announcement, the company specified the ban applies only to Russia and Belarus residents; not to Russian and Belarusian nationals living abroad.

"We announced the suspension of operations in Russia and Belarus around a month ago, and the key point from this announcement is 'in' not 'from'," an Airbnb spokesperson told Newsweek, clarifying that the "rumor" of Airbnb banning all Russian and Belarusian nationals is unfounded.

Airbnb previously had more than 93,000 homes listed in Russia, according to vacation rental market research firm AirDNA, and almost 4,000 in Belarus.

Airbnb has been vocal in its support of Ukraine following the Russian invasion, announcing on February 28 that it would have arranged free, short-term accommodation for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country as a result of the conflict.

The move, as announced by Chesky, would be funded by the company, donations and "generous" Airbnb's hosts.

Some Airbnb users have reportedly used the site as a way to donate to Ukrainian civilians trapped in the war zone, making bookings there with no intention of traveling.

Chesky wrote on March 12 that 434,000 nights had been booked in Ukraine by that date, generating $1.5 million for hosts in Ukraine.

On Monday, the company also officially confirmed that it is waiving fees for guests and hosts in Ukraine for these bookings. This way, hosts in Ukraine will get the full proceeds, without Airbnb claiming its cut of the transaction.

The company previously announced it could not process payments coming from certain financial institutions in Russia and Belarus because of sanctions.