Russia boycott: Companies pulling out of Russia and campaigns in support of Ukraine - The Washington Post

As the invasion of Ukraine by Russia under President Vladimir Putin continues, retailers and food companies have joined sporting bodies and tech giants in halting operations as a show of solidarity with Ukraine. Bumble, McDonald’s and Heineken are among the latest to announce a halt to their operations in Russia.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the boycotts launched globally since the invasion.
A list of companies still doing business in Russia circulated. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks soon pulled out.
Bartenders across the United States have pulled Russian-made products from their shelves, and several governors signed orders to curb sales in their states.
Republican governors Mike DeWine of Ohio, Spencer Cox of Utah and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire issued orders restricting the sale of some Russia-made vodkas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) asked the state’s restaurant association and retailers to voluntarily remove Russian products, including spirits, from their shelves. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) asked his state’s Liquor Control Board to do the same. In Oregon, the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Commission directed liquor stores to stop selling Russian-manufactured spirits. In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills (D) called on state agencies to delist Russian-made vodka to prevent the products from “making their way to Maine retail and restaurant shelves until further notice.”
Experts warn, however, that a U.S. boycott of Russian vodka will be mostly symbolic and have little financial impact.
Retailers in a dozen countries have pulled Russian-made vodka from their shelves, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden and Poland.
Sports federations and leagues have moved aggressively to sideline Russia’s teams and athletes since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The pace of those efforts picked up on Feb. 28, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommending that international sports federations refrain from allowing or inviting Russian or Belarusian athletes and officials to participate in competitions, “to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”
FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, announced the same day that it was suspending all Russian teams — national and club squads — from international competition until further notice. In a joint statement from FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which oversees the game in Europe, the groups said they hoped “the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”
FIFA and UEFA suspend Russia from soccer competitions
It’s not just competitors of the Homo sapiens variety that are facing the consequences of the invasion: On March 3, the International Cat Federation said it had banned Russian cats from entering any of its international competitions.
The board of the federation, which considers itself “the United Nations of Cat Federations,” said in a statement that it was “shocked and horrified” that Russian forces had invaded Ukraine and felt that it could not “just witness these atrocities and do nothing.”
International Cat Federation bans Russian cats from competitions
Multiple international sports federations have relocated major sporting events from Russian cities. The first major decision came Feb. 25 from UEFA, which moved the Champions League final, scheduled for May 28, from Gazprom Arena in St. Petersburg to the Stade de France in Paris.
UEFA moves Champions League final from Russia to Paris as sports world grapples with conflict
Also on Feb. 25, the International Chess Federation said it will not hold its annual congress or the 44th Chess Olympiad in Moscow, and it put out a call for bids from possible replacement host cities. And the International Automobile Federation, which puts on Formula One, canceled its Russian Grand Prix, scheduled for September.
“We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation,” the organization said in a statement, adding that it could not hold the event “in the current circumstances.”
Russia dominated chess for a half-century. The game’s organizing body has now banned tournaments in the country.
Meanwhile, the executive board of the IOC urged national sports federations to “relocate or cancel” any sporting event scheduled to take place in Russia or Belarus.
The National Hockey League has said it was not considering Russia as a location for future events and that it was pausing relationships with business partners in Russia, while expressing sympathy for Russian players in the league: “We understand they and their families are being placed in an extremely difficult position.”
The International Paralympic Committee said it would not hold events in Belarus or Russia, and on March 3 the IPC reversed an earlier decision that would have allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Beijing Games, after receiving what its president, Andrew Parsons, called “overwhelming” criticism from many paralympic athletes.
Paralympics reverses course and bans Russian and Belarusian athletes following outcry
Some boycotts have targeted Putin individually. The Russian president has been suspended as honorary president and ambassador of the International Judo Federation, according to a statement released Feb. 27. The IJF also canceled its Grand Slam event in Kazan, Russia.
Putin, a judo enthusiast, holds a black belt in the sport and has starred in an instructional video titled “Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin.”
Boycotts have also reached Russia’s cultural and entertainment industry.
Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko will no longer perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera this season or next, CNN reported. “Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine there was no way forward,” Peter Gelb, the company’s general manager, said in a statement to the news outlet.
The decision came two days after Gelb said in a statement that the Met was standing in solidarity with Ukraine and that it “can no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him — not until the invasion and killing has been stopped, order has been restored, and restitutions have been made.” Netrebko had recently issued statements criticizing the war but not directly condemning Putin.
The Russian singer was slated to perform in Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot” this spring. She was replaced by Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska.
In a March 1 statement, the organizers of the Cannes Film Festival, slated to take place in May, said official Russian delegations and anyone linked to the Russian government will not be welcomed to the event, unless the Russian invasion ends “under conditions that satisfy the Ukrainian people.”
At the same time, the organizers saluted Russians protesting the invasion and showed support to Russian filmmakers and artists who have stood up to Putin. The organizers did not comment on whether individual films will be banned from the official selection, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The Glasgow Film Festival, which runs March 2-13, said it would withdraw two Russian titles, “No Looking Back” and “The Execution,” from its program.
“This decision is not a reflection on the views and opinions of the makers of these titles,” the statement said. “We just believe that it would be inappropriate to proceed as normal with these screenings in the current circumstances.”
Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures said they would pause the upcoming releases of their films in Russia, including Warner’s “The Batman” and Pixar’s “Turning Red.” In a statement published on March 10, Disney went further and announced it was halting all other businesses in Russia, including content and product licensing, National Geographic magazine and tours, Disney Cruise Line activities, local content productions and linear channels.
Tech giants have moved swiftly to limit the reach of Russian state-owned news outlets RT and Sputnik. Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said in a tweet on Feb. 28 that the company was moving to restrict access across the European Union to RT and Sputnik. The move follows a ban announced earlier by the company that prohibits Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on Meta platforms.
We have received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.
Google announced in a statement on March 4 that it was blocking YouTube channels connected to Sputnik and RT across Europe as a way to “stop the spread of misinformation and disrupt disinformation campaigns online.”
“This builds on our indefinite pause of monetization of Russian state-funded media across our platforms, meaning media outlets such as RT are not allowed to monetize their content or advertise on our platforms,” the statement said.
TikTok will follow suit and also ban Sputnik and RT and their affiliates in Europe. Twitter announced that it will start flagging tweets that link to Russian state-affiliated media websites and that the company is taking steps to “significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter,” tweeted Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity.
The streaming giant Netflix said on Feb. 28 that it will not air any Russian channels on its platform in Russia, defying a new regulation that requires services with more than 100,000 subscribers to carry a number of local Russian channels, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Oleg Gavrilov, deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department, said on March 1 that Google and Meta allow anti-Russian propaganda while blocking Russian news websites, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
“Hostile propaganda activities are being carried out openly on their social platforms,” he said, calling for a system “to bring foreign warmongers to responsibility.”
Several major corporations have moved to stop selling or producing their goods in Russia, with consequences for thousands of Russians who will lose their jobs.
In a reversal, Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo announced on March 10 that it would temporarily close stores in Russia. Victoria’s Secret also issued a statement announcing it was stopping businesses starting March 9.
On Monday March 7, the cosmetics company Estée Lauder said it will stop doing business in Russia, “closing every store we own and operate” in the country, and no longer exporting products to consumers and retailers there.
On March 3, the Volkswagen Group, the parent company of brands such as Volkswagen, Lamborghini and Porsche, said it would no longer export its cars to Russia and would halt production at its Russian plants in Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod, a city east of Moscow, “until further notice.”
According to the Volkswagen website, the Kaluga plant employs more than 4,000 people and can produce up to 225,000 vehicles a year. In its statement, the company pledged to pay its Russian workforce “short-time working benefits.”
The Mercedes-Benz Group also has announced that it would stop exporting its vehicles to Russia and stop producing them locally.
Separately, home-furnishing giant Ikea said on March 3 that it will pause its production in Russia, close down its stores in the country and stop exporting goods to and from there. It acknowledged the move will “have a direct impact on 15,000 IKEA co-workers” and said it would support those employees and their families, including by securing “employment and income stability for the immediate future.”
Another Scandinavian retailer, H&M, said in a statement on March 2 that it would “temporarily pause all sales in Russia.” Its stores, which were already closed for safety reasons, will remain out of operation.
Fashion retailer Mango said in a statement that it was following the conflict in Ukraine “with sadness and concern.” The Spanish company announced that it was temporarily closing its stores in Russia as well as its sales website and stopping the delivery of goods in the country. Mango has 120 stores in Russia, of which 65 are franchises, which will be able to operate and distribute Mango products depending on their stock availability.
“Given the responsibility we owe our 800 employees in Russia, as well as our franchisees and partners, we have tried to safeguard our operations in the country until the last moment,” the statement said.
Nike and British fast-fashion brands Asos and Boohoo are some of the other global retailers that have announced that they will no longer sell their products in Russia.
Airline software giant Sabre announced on March 3 that it was terminating its distribution agreement with Russian airline Aeroflot, impairing the airline’s ability to sell seats. “Sabre is taking immediate steps to remove Aeroflot flight content from its global distribution system (GDS), a marketplace used by travel agencies, travel websites and corporations around the world to shop, book and service flight reservations,” the statement said.
Sabre mentioned the Ukraine invasion as the reason for the termination. “We are taking a stand against this military conflict,” CEO Sean Menke said in the statement. “We are complying, and will continue to comply, with sanctions imposed against Russia.”
Both Boeing and Airbus have reportedly said that they will stop selling their products to Russian planes, and will cease servicing them, further dealing a blow to the country’s airline industry.
IBM in a statement said it has “stopped selling technology in Russia,” and clarified that it has a policy of not doing “business with Russian military organizations.”
Microsoft announced on March 4 that it was halting all new sales of services and products in Russia. “Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement.
Smith also said the company has been helping Ukraine fend off Russian cyberattacks. “We continue to work proactively to help cybersecurity officials in Ukraine defend against Russian attacks, including most recently a cyberattack against a major Ukrainian broadcaster,” he said.
Apple announced on March 1 that it had stopped its sale of products in Russia, according to TechCrunch.
Meanwhile, hosting platform Airbnb also announced the suspension of all its activities in Russia and Belarus, its CEO tweeted on March 3. Airbnb users are booking rooms they don’t intend to use as a way of supporting and giving money to Ukrainians, and sharing those activities on social media.
Bumble on March 8 said it will halt its operations in Russia and remove its apps from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in Russia and Belarus.
Dating app Bumble unmatches Russia and its ally Belarus amid Ukraine invasion
Cogent and Lumen, two major service providers that form the “backbone” of the Internet, said in recent days that they will sever ties with Russia-based clients. Dave Schaeffer, Cogent’s chief executive, said while the company did not want to keep ordinary Russians off the Internet, it wishes to prevent the Russian government from using Cogent’s networks to launch cyberattacks or deliver propaganda targeting Ukraine at a time of war.
Goldman Sachs told Bloomberg News on March 10 that it “is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements.” It would be the first major bank to leave the Russian market.
Deutsche Bank, for its part, does not have plans to exit Russia, its chief financial officer said on March 10. “For practical purposes, that isn’t an option that’s available to us,” James von Moltke told CNBC, “nor would it be the right thing to do in terms of managing those client relationships and helping them to manage their situation.” He hinted that this could change down the line, however, as the situation on the ground evolves.
Three of the “Big Four” accounting firms — Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) — said they would wind down their operations in Russia as a show of support for Ukraine.
“In light of the escalating war, the EY global organization will no longer serve any Russian government clients, state-owned enterprises or sanctioned entities and individuals anywhere in the world,” a statement from the company said. “EY has commenced a restructuring of its Russian member firm to separate it from the global network.”
EY joins KPMG and PwC, which said on March 6 that their Russian firms would leave their networks as part of a corporate move to cease operations in the country after its invasion of Ukraine. The moves come amid a Western-led campaign to target Russia’s economy and its elites.
Deloitte, the remaining Big Four accounting firm, said on March 7 that it is “reviewing” its “business and presence” in Russia. “We are mindful of our professional obligations and the changing circumstances as we undertake this review,” the statement said. “We will continue to comply with all applicable sanctions; Deloitte does not serve any entities of Russia’s Central Government.”
In a statement, KPMG said: “We believe we have a responsibility, along with other global businesses, to respond to the Russian government’s ongoing military attack on Ukraine. As a result, our Russia and Belarus firms will leave the KPMG network.” The statement said the firms employ more than 4,500 people.
PwC said in its statement, “As a result of the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine we have decided that, under the circumstances, PwC should not have a member firm in Russia and consequently PwC Russia will leave the network.” The firm employs 3,700 people, the statement said. In its own statement, PwC Russia said it “is leaving the network of PwC member firms, but will continue cooperation.”
Major consulting firms also announced plans to exit the Russian market in recent days, including Accenture, McKinsey & Co. and Boston Consulting Group.
Meanwhile, Visa and Mastercard, among the world’s largest payment networks, announced on March 5 that they will suspend transactions in Russia.
Visa and Mastercard cards issued outside Russia will no longer work in the country, according to the companies. Cards issued by Russian banks will be cut from the networks run by the companies but may continue to operate through a state-owned processing system disconnected from Visa and Mastercard.
“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” Visa CEO Al Kelly said in a statement. “We regret the impact this will have on our valued colleagues, and on the clients, partners, merchants and cardholders we serve in Russia. This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”
McDonald’s announced on March 8 that it will temporarily close its 850 restaurants in Russia. Starbucks suspended all business activity, including shuttering its 130 stores and pausing the shipment of Starbucks products.
Coca-Cola said in a brief statement that it was “suspending its business in Russia.” PepsiCo is stopping its soda sales, including its eponymous cola and 7Up, but it will continue to manufacture products such as milk, baby formula and baby food.
Heineken said on March 9 that it will “stop the production, advertising and sale” of its products in Russia, separate its Russian business from the rest of the company and reconsider “the future of our Russian operations.” Similarly, Carlsberg also stated that it will stop producing and selling its flagship beverage in Russia. But a Russian brewery owned by Carlsberg, a separate business entity, will continue to operate so as to keep its 8,400 employees.
Yum! Brands, the parent company of Pizza Hut and KFC, said in a statement to The Washington Post that it had suspended “all investment and restaurant development in Russia” and that it will redirect profits from operations in the country to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Andrew Golden, Jennifer Hassan, Meryl Kornfield, Christian Shepherd, Adela Suliman and Amy Cheng contributed to this report.
The latest:
President Volodymyr Zelensky said food and medical supplies for the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, where hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped behind Russian lines, was set to arrive Sunday afternoon. Russian forces continued to bombard Ukrainian cities, making “limited but notable” gains in a drawn-out campaign to capture the capital, Kyiv, a senior NATO official said.
Oil prices: Sanctions on Russia are also helping gas prices hit new highs. Here’s why — and how long the surge could last.
The fight: Casualties are mounting in Ukraine — including civilians, while Moscow is facing allegations that it has used cluster and vacuum weapons. As many as 4,000 Russian soldiers may have died, according to a U.S. general.
Map: Russia’s assault on Ukraine has been extensive with strikes and attacks across the entire country.
The response: Russia’s war could be a global economic “game changer,” with rising gas prices and shifting trade decisions suggesting change that will be felt for years. Meanwhile, in Russia, online access has been significantly curtailed by censors at home and businesses abroad.
How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.
Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
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