Koch Industries won’t join the more than 400 companies who have left Russia

The company claims pulling out would ‘do more harm than good’

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 17 March 2022 19:28
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Related video: President Zelensky speaks about priorities for Russia-Ukraine talks

Koch Industries says it will not pull its business out of Russia, defying the trend set by other corporations of suspending their in-country operations to protest the invasion of Ukraine.

According to the Washington Post, the company, one of the largest privately-owned businesses in the US, employs 122,000 people around the world, with just over 600 working at a subsidiary, Guardian Industries, inside Russia.

The company said it would continue its operations in Russia because to do otherwise would put its "employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good."

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, more than 400 companies have pulled their operations out of Russia. Some firms pulled out shortly after the war began, while others - like McDonald's and Coca-Cola - did so after public pressure intensified.

However, Koch Industries has bucked that trend, as have around 30 other companies, according to a list compiled by Yale management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his research team.

The other companies include the likes of Reebok, Cargill, Halliburton, LG Electronics, Cinnabon and Subway.

Koch's chief operating officer, Dave Robertson, did issue a statement denouncing Russia for its invasion.

“The horrific and abhorrent aggression against Ukraine is an affront to humanity,” he said. “Principles always matter, and they matter most when they are under pressure.”

However, he also added that Koch "will not walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them."

He also noted that the company was complying with sanctions levied against Russia and providing financial and humanitarian aid to employees in affected countries.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for all US corporations to pull out of Russia.

“Peace is more important than income," he said. "All American companies must leave Russia … leave their market immediately, because it is flooded with our blood.”

He then asked US lawmakers to “take the lead” and “make sure that the Russians do not receive a single penny that they use to destroy our people in Ukraine.”

Koch Industries is perhaps best known for its owners, Charles Koch and his brother, David, who died in 2019. The brothers were known for donating millions to conservative causes, some of which opposed climate change legislation. However, they also funneled money into what many would consider liberal causes, such as criminal justice reform initiatives.

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