Russia suspended from World Tourism Organization over invasion of Ukraine

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The United Nations’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) voted during its first extraordinary session on Wednesday to suspend Russia in protest over the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

According to its website, the U.N. specialized agency “promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.”

Both Russia and Ukraine are members of the organization.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday that more than three-fourths of registered votes from the UNWTO were in favor of Moscow’s suspension.

“UNWTO’s Members have sent a clear message: Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and Members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement.

“This emergency General Assembly shows that Russia’s actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and of international governance.”

The decision was applauded by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who said he was “grateful” to those who supported the measure.

“Russia has been suspended from UNWTO at its General Assembly’s first extraordinary session. Grateful to all members who backed this move. The only travel direction for Russian war criminals should be The Hague. Russia’s isolation will deepen with each day of its war on Ukraine,” Kuleba said in a statement on Thursday.

The development comes against the backdrop on Thursday of allegations from Kuleba and other Ukrainian officials that Russia struck Kyiv with missiles while the U.N. secretary-general and others were visiting.

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