Mobile World Congress will ban some Russian companies from 2022 show

Some companies might stick around despite the attack on Ukraine.

JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is now affecting technology trade shows. TechCrunch and Reuters report the GSMA will ban some Russian companies from exhibiting at Mobile World Congress 2022 when it starts February 28th. While the wireless industry association didn't say which companies were barred from attending, it said there would be no Russian Pavilion to showcase that country's mobile products.

There are no plans to cancel or delay MWC 2022 itself, GSMA chief John Hoffman told Reuters. However, the organization said on its website that it would honor all "sanctions and policies" targeting Russia. Some companies are on the sanctions list, Hoffmann added. The measures allow mobile devices, but only as long as they aren't sent to Russian government workers or affiliates.

Like with some trade shows, Russian companies like the carrier VimpelCom can buy dedicated show floor space that could give them a presence. The main ban will primarily affect those companies that were leaning on the Russian Pavilion for a presence.

The bans arrive as tech increasingly serves as a battleground for Russia and its Western opponents. Meta's Facebook and Twitter have respectively taken steps to protect Ukranians and those tracking Russian military movements. Russia, in turn, has limited access to Facebook in retaliation for actions restricting four Russian media outlets. Whether it wants to or not, the GSMA is embroiling itself in politics that could affect the mobile world at large.

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