Coca-Cola and Starbucks suspend operations in Russia

Announcements come after many US companies already cut ties

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Tuesday 08 March 2022 22:43 GMT
Ukrainian protesters shout 'go home' at armed Russian soldiers
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Coca-Cola and Starbucks have joined the ranks of major US companies suspending their operations in Russia in protest of the invasion of Ukraine, both firms announced on Tuesday.

“We condemn the unprovoked, unjust and horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia, and our hearts go out to all those affected,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wrote in a letter on Tuesday, condemning the Russia war effort.

The coffee chain has about 130 outlets across Russia and Ukraine, employing nearly 2,000 people, but the countries only account for less than one per cent of Starbucks’s global revenue.

“Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine,” added Coca-Cola in a statement on Tuesday. “We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve.”

The company has a significant business presence in Russia, including bottling plants.

Coca-Cola and Starbucks weren’t the only ones announcing major realignments in Russia.

McDonalds, perhaps the single most symbolic US consumer brand in the country, is also planning on temporarily closing its reported 847 restaurants in Russia.

In addition to a record-breaking number of sanctions, the Russian invasion has set off a swift and unprecedented round of business exits from the country, with corporate and non-profit institutions ranging from Boeing to Disney to ExxonMobil to MIT all cutting ties with Russia.

As such, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and other brands who remained in the country had faced a growing body of criticism for their decision to stay.

“The world is likely to judge companies by what they do in such circumstances, and ethical judgement will be as important as complying with any government-led regulations and sanctions,” Dr Ian Peters, director of the Institute for Business Ethics, told the BBC. “We would advise firms in such circumstances always to look at the bigger picture and seek to do the right thing, putting the wider interest above short-term profit.”

The economic pressure continues to ratchet up against Russia, with Joe Biden announcing a US ban on all Russian oil imports on Tuesday, in an effort to target what he called “the main artery of Russia’s economy.”

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