Nations are isolating Russia for attacking Ukraine
Sanctions against Moscow are expanding on multiple fronts, from travel bans to the freezing of assets of its key officials led by President Vladimir Putin. This developed shortly after Russian forces started attacking Ukraine on Thursday.
UN Security Council meeting
Russia, as expected, vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Friday that “deplores in the strongest terms “the country’s “aggression” against Ukraine and demanded the immediate withdrawal of its troops.
Eleven of the council’s 15 members voted for the motion, which was co-written by the United States and Albania. China, India, and the United Arab Emirates abstained.
Following the veto, Britain’s Ambassador to the United Nations Barbara Woodward said: “Make no mistake, Russia is isolated. It has no support for the invasion of Ukraine.” Russia’s isolation and exclusion are becoming more evident across various fronts, from sports to music to social media.
International sports bodies were among the first to move quickly to strip Russia of events.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) urged international sports federations to either move or cancel sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus, which was used by Russian forces to invade Ukraine.
Can’t exploit events
Among the more prominent sports bodies that took action were those in football, judo, car racing and chess.
European soccer governing body UEFA relocated the Champions League final from St. Petersburg to the Stade de France in Paris.
The decision was met with regret by the Kremlin but welcomed by UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
“Russia must not be allowed to exploit sporting and cultural events on the world stage to legitimize its unprovoked, premeditated, and needless attack against a sovereign democratic state,” Dorries said.
After Poland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic refused to play World Cup qualifiers in Russia, UEFA said home games of Ukrainian and Russian club and national teams competing in UEFA competitions would be played at neutral venues.
Formula One, motorsport’s governing body FIA, and the teams discussed Russia’s actions and came to the conclusion that it was “impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.”
The race was scheduled for Sept. 25 at Sochi’s Olympic Park.
The International Judo Federation (IJF) said it had canceled its May 20 to May 22 Grand Slam event in Kazan, Russia, but in a brief statement IJF president Marius Vizer did not make any reference to Russia or Ukraine.
The International Chess Federation (Fide) said the Chess Olympiad and Fide Congress will not take place in Moscow later this year and were doing their “utmost to find another organizer for the Olympiad.”
Space program, song contest
Russia’s space program also was affected by European sanctions.
Dmitry Rogozin, chief of the Russian space agency, said on Saturday that it was suspending space launches from French Guiana and withdrawing its technical personnel in response to EU sanctions.
An agreement between the European Space Agency and Russia enabled the Russian Soyuz launchers to use Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana as a launch base.
Cultural and musical performances were not spared.
The Eurovision Song Contest has said that no Russians will be permitted to take part in this year’s contest following the invasion of Ukraine.
The “inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s (Eurovision) contest would bring the competition into disrepute,” the European Broadcasting Union said in a statement.
London’s Royal Opera House said on Friday that it was canceling a season of performances by Moscow’s famed Bolshoi Ballet following the attack on Ukraine.
In Germany, acclaimed Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, a close supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been told to speak out against the invasion or risk losing his job as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic.
Gergiev is also under pressure in Milan, where he is currently leading Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades” at Teatro alla Scala, to speak out against Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine.
If he doesn’t, “the collaboration will be over,” Italian media quoted Milan’s mayor as saying.
In New York, Manhattan’s Carnegie Hall has cut Gergiev from its programming this weekend “due to recent world events,” according to a spokesperson on Thursday.
He is also on deck to conduct the Mariinsky Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in early May.
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev — another Putin supporter who was scheduled to solo with the Vienna Philharmonic on Friday — was also dropped from the performance.
Social media restrictions
Social media networks, home to sometimes misleading information but also real-time monitoring of the quickly developing conflict, have become one of the battlefronts in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Facebook on Friday restricted Russian state media’s ability to earn money on the social media platform “anywhere in the world,” Nathaniel Gleicher, the social media giant’s security policy head, said on Twitter.
Its parent company Meta said on Friday that Russia would hit its services with restrictions after it refused authorities’ order to stop using fact-checkers and content warning labels on its platforms.
Russia’s media regulator earlier said it was limiting access to Facebook, accusing the US tech giant of censorship and violating the rights of Russian citizens.
Moscow is also increasing pressure on domestic media, threatening to block reports that contain what it describes as “false information” regarding its military operation in Ukraine.
Meta’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said “ordinary Russians” were using Meta’s apps — which include Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, as well as Facebook — to “express themselves and organize for action” and that the company wanted them to continue to do so.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it had removed hundreds of YouTube channels and thousands of videos over the last few days for violating its policies and was continuing to look for and disrupt disinformation campaigns and hacking. Google is also evaluating what any new sanctions and export controls could mean for the company, said spokesperson Ivy Choi.
Twitter Inc. said users in Russia and Ukraine would no longer see ads — an attempt to avoid distracting from public safety messages — and that they would not get recommended tweets from accounts they do not follow in a bid to limit the spread of abusive content.
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