Members of the public are paying for Airbnb rentals in Ukraine to help raise money for residents who are facing extreme financial hardship due to the Russian invasion.

The home-rental platform once offered free housing to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, but members of the public have found a new way to financially help those who intend to stay or are trapped in the country by reason for the conflict.

A couple who made a reservation from March 3 to 10 in Kyiv posted a confirmation on Twitter and wrote: “Hello Maria, my wife and I have just booked your apartment for a week, but of course we will not be visiting you . It’s just so you can receive money.

Another Twitter user said he also booked a week-long stay and encouraged others to share the idea. A third asked Airbnb to lower its fees, which typically range from 3% to 15%, so that Ukrainian hosts receive all the benefits.

An Airbnb spokesperson said it would waive fees in the country. “We appreciate the generosity of our community at this time of crisis,” she said. “Airbnb is also waiving all guest and host fees on all bookings in Ukraine at this time.”

Airbnb, which last year saw bookings for 300m nights from 4m hosts globally, worth a total of $46.8bn (£35bn), lists more than 300 properties for rent across Ukraine.

Brian Chesky, its chief executive and co-founder, said the company would consider continuing operations in Russia following Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

“We don’t have a big business in Russia,” he told CNN. “It’s not one of our main markets. [But] we are absolutely reviewing our relationship [about whether] do business in Russia.

On Monday, Airbnb pledged to provide free housing to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. The spokesperson said the company has received an “overwhelming response” to the initiative, with more than 260,000 visitors so far to a dedicated page where people can register to host or donate.

Chesky said that over the past decade the company has provided free housing to 54,000 refugees around the world in conjunction with its hosts, most recently in relation to last year’s crisis in Afghanistan.

“In a global humanitarian crisis like this, I think everyone should be asking the question: how can we help,” he said. “The way Airbnb can help is by providing housing for millions of people every night around the world. If you want to host a refugee family, we will work with resettlement partners.

Chesky said he and his co-founders will also contribute some of their own money to the cause. The 40-year-old received shares worth $120 million after Airbnb’s IPO in 2020, with his ultimate value depending on how the company performs over the next decade.

Chesky has pledged to donate the net proceeds of its equity award to “community, philanthropic and charitable causes” and donated $100 million in stock to a $1.7 billion endowment fund created to help Airbnb hosts. He received total compensation of $421,000 in 2019.

Drone footage shows devastated city near Kiev – video
Drone footage shows devastated city near Kiev – video