Unilever facing Ukrainian demands to leave Russia completely

Kyiv’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko warned ‘there is no place for responsible businesses’ in Russia.

Sam Blewett
Saturday 19 March 2022 02:45
Vadym Prystaiko called for Unilever to exit Russia (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Vadym Prystaiko called for Unilever to exit Russia (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Unilever and other international companies are under growing pressure to leave Russia fully in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kyiv’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko singled out the British consumer goods firm as he warned multinationals “there is no place for responsible businesses” in Russia.

The London-headquartered company suspended all imports and exports of its products from the country but is continuing to supply “essential” food and hygiene products made within its borders.

In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Prystaiko said: “They have to pull out right now because the world is now painted in black and white, or blood red and white, and there are unfortunately no shades of it.

It’s simple: pull out of there. You will find more business, more opportunities, because people will respect what you’ve done as a company

Vadym Prystaiko

“You are either supporting the Russian Federation in what you are doing or you are staying on this side of the conflict.”

Unilever declined to comment, but it was understood it was not reversing its decision to continue operations in Russia.

An exodus of corporations such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola began in the weeks after the Russian president launched his invasion.

But Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is pressuring firms such as Unilever, Nestle and Mondelez to leave the Russian market completely.

Mr Prystaiko said he has held talks with Unilever chief executive Alan Jope to get the company to pull out, saying: “He was receptive but I still want to see actions.”

“There is no place for responsible businesses to be there right now because each and every dollar you bring into the Russian economy can be tomorrow used to build up more weapons and kill more Ukrainian kids,” the ambassador said at his west London embassy.

“I see more and more businesses are pulling out. I’ve seen big companies here, like Unilever for example, I’ve seen people protesting in front of their offices and I’ve even had a conversation with the CEO. I don’t want to go into details but we were trying to discuss that it is time for big business to pull out of Russia.”

We will continue to supply our everyday essential food and hygiene products made in Russia to people in the country. We will keep this under close review

Alan Jope, Unilever

Asked what his message to big business is, Mr Prystaiko said: “It’s simple: pull out of there. You will find more business, more opportunities, because people will respect what you’ve done as a company.”

A statement from Mr Jope issued on March 8 explained its decision to stay on in Russia to an extent.

“We have suspended all imports and exports of our products into and out of Russia, and we will stop all media and advertising spend,” he said.

“We will not invest any further capital into the country nor will we profit from our presence in Russia.

“We will continue to supply our everyday essential food and hygiene products made in Russia to people in the country. We will keep this under close review.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in