Payments company PayPal has shut down its services in Russia, citing "the current circumstances," joining many financial and tech companies in suspending operations there after the invasion of Ukraine.

"Under the current circumstances, we are suspending PayPal services in Russia," President and Chief Executive Dan Schulman said in a statement.

He added that the company "stands with the international community in condemning Russia's violent military aggression in Ukraine."

A company spokesperson said PayPal will support withdrawals "for a period of time, ensuring that account balances are dispersed in line with applicable laws and regulations."

PayPal, which had only allowed cross-border transactions by users in Russia, stopped accepting new users in the country on Wednesday.

Ukrainian government officials had been calling on PayPal to quit Russia and help them with fundraising.

PayPal said yesterday that "since the beginning of the invasion, PayPal has helped raise over $150 million for charities supporting response efforts in Ukraine, one of the largest efforts we've seen in such a short period of time."

PayPal's suspension in Russia also applies to its money transfer tool Xoom. Rivals Wise and Remitly earlier suspended some services in Russia.

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China pulls Premier League coverage over Ukraine support plans

The Chinese rights holders of the English Premier League are not airing its football matches this weekend, schedules show, with the games expected to show solidarity with Ukraine after Russia's invasion.

Beijing has been treading a cautious diplomatic line on the conflict, refusing to condemn the acts of its close partner Moscow.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin declared in Beijing last month that their friendship had "no limits", a deepening embrace driven by mutual desire to counter US influence.

This weekend, Premier League club captains are expected to wear armbands in the colours of Ukraine and take part in a moment of reflection and solidarity ahead of kick-off, reported British newspaper The Guardian.

The acts are expected to feature in international broadcast feeds, it added.

But two Chinese rights holders for the league - streaming platforms iQiyi Sports and Migu - show no plans to air the matches this weekend.

Earlier announcements of their partnerships indicated they would broadcast all games.

Some social media users noted the absence of the matches on schedules, reacting with a mix of disappointment and confusion.

The Premier League terminated a lucrative broadcasting contract with streaming service PPTV in China in 2020, after it reportedly failed to make a $212m payment due as the pandemic hit.

In 2019, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV dropped an Arsenal v Manchester City match from its programme after Gunners midfielder Mesut Ozil expressed support for mainly Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

EU suspends Russia and Belarus from Council of Baltic Sea States

The European Union said it had joined members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) in suspending Russia and Belarus from the Council's activities.

"This decision is a part of the European Union's and like-minded partners response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the involvement of Belarus in this unprovoked andunjustified aggression," it said today.

"The EU agrees with the other members of the CBSS (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden) that the suspension of Russia and Belarus will remain in force until it is possible to resume co-operation based on respect for fundamental principles of international law," it added.

Italy seizes oligarchs' villas and yachts in initial swoop

Italian police have seized villas and yachts worth at least €140m from four high-profile Russians who were placed on an EU sanctions list following Moscow's attack on Ukraine, sources said today.

A police source said a villa owned by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, and a villa on Lake Como owned by state TV host Vladimir Soloviev, had both been seized.

In addition, sources confirmed that yachts belonging to Russia's richest man, Alexey Mordashov, and Gennady Timchenko, who has close tied with Russian President Vladimir Putin, were impounded overnight in northern Italian ports.

Russian oligarchs are believed to have bought numerous villas in choice Italian locations over the past 20 years and sources said more assets were expected to be seized in coming days as Western states implement massive sanctions to try to force Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

Italian banks were instructed by the Bank of Italy's financial intelligence division yesterday to urgently let it know of all measures taken to freeze the assets of people and entities placed on the EU list.

Uzbekistan-born metals and telecoms tycoon Mr Usmanov is well known in Italy for owning multiple properties on Sardinia, while Italian media say Mr Mordashov owned a villa worth some €66m on the same island.

Taking into account the assets of his whole family, Forbes magazine estimates that Mr Mordashov had an estimated net worth of $29.1bn before sanctions hit.

His 65m yacht the "Lady M" had a price tag of €65m and was impounded in the northwest port of Imperia, while Mr Timchenko's boat Lena was worth some €50m and was seized in nearby Sanremo, a judicial source said.

Mr Timchenko made a fortune in oil trading and has been described by Mr Putin as one of his closest associates.

Mr Soloviev reportedly complained on Russian television when he found out last month that he risked losing his Italian villa.

"Suddenly someone makes a decision that this journalist is now on the list of sanctions. And right away it affects your real estate. Wait a minute. But you told us that Europe has sacred property rights," he was quoted saying by The Daily Beast.

While the European Union has moved quickly against individuals seen as close to the Russian government, Britain has moved more slowly.

However British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quoted as saying today that amendments to Britain's economic crimes legislation would be presented to parliament on Monday to help the government act with more speed.