An American anti-gay group has been forced to suspend its plans to hold a conference in Russia this summer, due to tensions over Crimea.

The World Congress of Families, based in Illionois, was initially due to hold its next conference in Moscow in September.

The group, which has loudly supported the introduction of anti-gay laws in Russia and Uganda, claims to have enjoyed close ties with the Kremlin since 1995.

In a press release, the group said: “The situation in the Ukraine and Crimea (and the resulting U.S. and European sanctions) has raised questions about the travel, logistics, and other matters necessary to plan WCF.

“The foregoing is not meant to reflect negatively on the Russian people, churches or individuals who have taken a leadership role in the fight to preserve life, marriage, and the natural family at home and as part of the international pro-family movement.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of our Russian Partners, and applaud the moves of the Russian people, through their elected representatives, to protect life, the family and the innocence of children.”

Right Wing Watch reports that the event had been due to be partly subsidised by the Kremlin, and some of its main Russian sponsors are victims of US sanctions over Crimea.

It is not known if it will be rescheduled in Moscow at a later date, or moved outside of Russia.