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Rick Steves cancels tours in Russia after invasion of Ukraine

The expert on Europe travel cited ‘Putin’s aggression’ in Ukraine in a blog post

(Washington Post Illustration)

Europe travel expert Rick Steves says his company has canceled 2022 tours that include stops in Russia, citing the invasion of Ukraine and the reality that bringing travel dollars to the country “would support [Vladimir] Putin’s aggression.”

Steves, a well-known guidebook author, travel advocate, and host of TV and radio shows, announced the decision on his blog Thursday. His company, Rick Steves’ Europe, resumed small-group tours in Europe this month after halting trips during the pandemic. Over the past two years, he has used his platform to praise the value of traveling abroad and has encouraged people to keep dreaming about upcoming trips.

“Today is a profoundly sad day,” he wrote. “Russia’s aggressive action is heartbreaking for the death, suffering, and economic turmoil it will cause in Ukraine and, indirectly at least, beyond.”

What does Putin want from Ukraine? Our reporters answered your questions.

Steves said in his blog that his company would monitor any impact on travel throughout the rest of Europe but did not announce any other cancellations. A representative for the company said the cancellations affect the “Best of St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Helsinki in 9 Days Tour,” which included five days in St. Petersburg. Departures were scheduled to start in May and were sold out through September.

“For 40 years now, we have lived, worked, and traveled through many periods of tragic warfare in lands far from where we lead our tours (and some closer),” he wrote. “And at this time, we see no reason to change the rest of our travel and touring plans.”

Rick Steves looks to the future after an 18-month hiatus from European travel

In a phone interview Friday, Steves said his decision was a “matter of principle.”

“I just really feel like you shape the world by how you consume, and I don’t want to shape the world in Putin’s direction,” he said.

He said he’s not sure when he’ll be comfortable bringing tours back to Russia.

“There’s a brutality in what Putin is doing, and I want nothing to do with it,” Steves said. “And I want him to feel the impact in just a little symbolic way. It’s my hope that people in St. Petersburg who are going to feel the pinch of these cancellations are going to realize that Putin’s actions are isolating Russia from the rest of the world.”

Several cruise operators, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Viking have removed Russian and Ukrainian stops from their plans this year, USA Today reported.

Russia has banned airlines based in Britain from landing in the country and using its airspace after Britain said it was banning Russian carrier Aeroflot. Global air carriers have been routing flights around closed airspace in Ukraine, Moldova and parts of Belarus and southern Russia, Reuters reported.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russia fired at least 85 missiles on at least six major cities in Ukraine on November 15, in one of the most widespread attacks of the war so far. The strikes came just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking by video link, presented a 10-point peace plan to G-20 leaders at a summit in Indonesia. As in previous Russian missile attacks, critical civilian infrastructure appeared to be primary targets. Parts of several cities that were hit were left without electrical power on Tuesday afternoon.

Russia’s Gamble: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine, and Western efforts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior U.S., Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.