Major companies boycott Russia amid invasion of Ukraine

Governments and major companies around the world are boycotting Russian products, pulling operations from the country and barring the use of their services in protest of President Vladimir Putin’s deadly invasion of neighboring Ukraine.


What You Need To Know

  • Governments and major companies around the world are boycotting Russian products, pulling operations from the country and barring the use of their services in protest of President Vladimir Putin’s deadly invasion of neighboring Ukraine
  • Seeking to tighten the financial squeeze on Russia, governors and lawmakers in numerous US states have taken action to pull state investments from Russian companies while encouraging private entities to do the same
  • The International Olympic Committee in late February set the stage for many of the protests when it urged sports bodies to cancel or move all events they plan to hold in Russia and Belarus
  • Some of the major companies still operating within Russia include McDonald’s, Starbucks, Marriott, Citi and Coca-Cola, for a Yale compilation

In the United States, the protests started as piecemeal statewide bans on Russian vodka – a boycott that has grown into a full-fledged protest of the country, with companies from Netflix to Mastercard to Ford joining the resistance.

The boycotts come as Russia’s attack on Ukraine stretches closer to a third week. The United Nations estimates over 1.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country, a number that is only expected to climb in the days and weeks to come. As of midnight on Sunday, the UN Human Rights office had confirmed 406 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion, with another 801 injured civilians.

Here is a growing list of the actions companies and governments are taking in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

State actions

Seeking to tighten the financial squeeze on Russia over its war against Ukraine, governors and lawmakers in numerous US states have taken action to pull state investments from Russian companies while encouraging private entities to do the same. Some of the statewide actions, while not as sweeping as the sanctions imposed by the federal government or international governing bodies, may still have teeth.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, got a bipartisan standing ovation when he told representatives he would seek to have the state’s retirement funds quickly divested from any Russian assets.

Arkansas lawmakers have filed proposals authorizing banks in the state to freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs and to require a boycott of Russian-made goods.

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, a Republican seeking co-sponsors for the legislation, said state lawmakers “have a moral obligation to ensure that our public fund investments are not inadvertently supporting those who are engaging in an unprovoked invasion of their democratically elected neighbors. ”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, has also banned state agencies from doing business with Russian state-owned firms and their subcontractors. Colorado’s $ 61 billion state pension fund is pulling $ 8 million from a Russian state-owned bank identified in federal sanctions.

Governors or other state officials in Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia and Washington have also ordered a review of whether any state money is going to Russian companies or investments supporting the Russian government.

Other actions have been largely symbolic.

The capitols in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Tennessee and the governor’s mansion in South Carolina were lit with the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine’s flag. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as co-chairs of the presidentially appointed Council of Governors. Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled Senate passed a resolution affirming the historical ties between the state and the people of Ukraine and supporting their fight against what it described as “an illegal and violent” Russian invasion.

Food and drink

Soon after Russia launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24, state lawmakers in the US began to issue bans on the import or sale of Russian-owned vodka and liquors.

Officials in Alabama, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and more have directed or encourage Russian-sourced alcohol to be removed from store shelves.

Ohio’s Gov. Mike DeWine was among the first state lawmakers who ordered the commerce department to “cease both the purchase & sale of all vodka made by Russian Standard, the only overseas, Russian-owned distillery with vodka sold in Ohio.”

The state’s liquor control department estimated that around 6,400 bottles of Russian-made vodka were available for purchase across Ohio’s 487 government-operated liquor stores, DeWine added.

Some other countries – including regional leaders in Canada – have issued similar restrictions on sales of Russian liquor and other products. Provinces including British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba have thus far banned a number of Russian imports, according to local news outlets.

But some of the protests on Russian food and drink have had the adverse effect of negatively impacting businesses not affiliated with the Kremlin – as was the case with New York City’s Russian Samovar restaurant. The restaurant lost 60% of its business in the 24 hours after Russia’s invasion was announced, co-owner Misha Von Shatz told Spectrum News.

“Contrary to popular belief just because you’re a quote unquote Russian establishment it doesn’t mean you cut a check to Putin or his regime,” he added. “This is the point you have to cut across unfortunately.”

Sports

From archery to wrestling, reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine came swiftly in the sports community.

The International Olympic Committee in late February set the stage for many of the protests when it urged sports bodies to cancel or move all events they plan to hold in Russia and Belarus, and stop using the countries’ flags and national anthems. The IOC said Russia breached the Olympic Truce by invading Ukraine, an invasion that came only four days after the closing ceremony of the Winter Games in Beijing. Some of the Russian troops entered Ukraine from Belarus, Russia’s ally.

In response, World Archery on March 3 banned Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, with Neil Armitage, CEO of Archery Great Britain, saying in part: “We are deeply moved by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

“We are pleased that World Archery has taken a united response along with other organizations (sic) such as the International Paralympic Committee which has taken the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing at the Winter Paralympic Games,” the statement added.

At the end of last month, FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian clubs and national teams from participating in all competitions, and UEFA moved its soccer final from St. Petersburg. Petersburg, Russia, to Paris.

Russian basketball teams and officials were soon barred by the International Basketball Federation. Russia was excluded from the Women’s Basketball World Cup in Australia in September and EuroLeague suspended Russian clubs CSKA Moscow, UNICS Kazan, and Zenit St. Petersburg.

The International Cycling Union banned Russia and Belarus national teams and professional teams and canceled events in both countries. Russia and Belarus pro riders are allowed on non-Russian and Belarusian teams, and individual riders from the countries are allowed, if authorized, as neutrals without national flags, emblems.

And the International Gymnastics Federation banned Russia and Belarus athletes and officials from March 7; all World Cup and World Challenge Cup events in Russia and Belarus were canceled, including acrobatics World Cup in Oktyabrskiy, Russia, in May, and trampoline World Cup in St. Petersburg in September.

Major corporations

A growing number of multinational businesses have cut off Russia from vital financial services, technology and a variety of consumer products in response to Western economic sanctions and global outrage over the invasion of Ukraine. According to a report from Yale’s School of Management, as of Monday over 230 companies announced they would pull operations from the country in the days since the invasion.

Some of the major companies still operating within Russia include McDonald’s, Starbucks, Marriott, Estee-Lauder, Citi and Coca-Cola, for Yale’s compilation.

US credit card companies Visa, Mastercard and American Express all said over the weekend they would cut service in Russia. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, a leading supplier of both smartphones and computer chips, said it would halt product shipments to the country, joining other big tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Dell.

Netflix and TikTok suspended most of their services in Russia on Sunday as the government cracks down on what people and media outlets can say about Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Netflix did not specify a reason for suspending services Sunday except to say it reflected “circumstances on the ground.” The company had previously said it would refuse to air Russian state TV channels.

TikTok said Russian users of its popular social media app would no longer be able to post new videos or livestreams and they also would not be able to see videos shared from elsewhere in the world.

All four of the so-called Big Four accounting firms – Deloitte, Ernst and Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers – have said they will cut ties with Russia. Deloitte and KPMG are also pulling operations from Russian-allied Belarus.

Ford, while saying it has “significantly wound down its Russian operations” over the past several years, said last week it was “suspending our operations in Russia, effective immediately, until further notice.”

“While we do not have significant operations in Ukraine, we do have a strong contingent of Ukrainian nationals working at Ford around the world and we will continue to support them through this time,” the statement added.

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