Spend wisely to avoid funding Putin’s war | Editorials


Some 400 countries doing business with Russia have increased their stakes, avoiding the nation for its unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Some remain, however, to their eternal shame.

Citizens of the world can help Ukraine by spending money on companies that refuse to do business with a country that systematically destroys a neighbor.

This can be complicated, given the intertwined nature of business interests in today’s world. One big company can own many smaller ones, making it all too easy to buy from companies that put profit before people’s lives.

Here is an example. Koch Industries, a longtime donor to right-wing causes, is still doing business in Russia. Consumers don’t see the Koch brothers’ name on the products they buy, but the company does have Brawny paper towels, Dixie tumblers, Quilted Northern toilet paper, Vanity Fair napkins and Georgia-Pacific wood, for to name a few. Other companies still doing business in Russia include Burger King, Domino’s, Subway and Marriott.

These decisions contrast sharply with the choices made by a majority of American companies that operated in Russia. Those who opted out are Apple, Boeing, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Disney, Exxon, Ford, JPMorgan, MasterCard, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Nike and Visa.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of the Yale University School of Management says companies that stay in Russia form a “hall of shame”. To help consumers navigate the complex relationships between companies, Sonnenfeld has created a webpage detailing companies that have left Russia while others remain, at varying levels of participation in the Russian economy.

The call to avoid companies still involved in Russia is echoed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In his speech last week to the US Congress, he said: “All American companies must leave Russia. …Leave their market immediately, for it is flooded with our blood.

Addressing protesters in Switzerland on Saturday, the Ukrainian president did not let go. He contrasted Nestlé’s practices with his slogan: “’Good food. Good life.’ This is the slogan of Nestlé, your company that refuses to leave Russia. Even now, when Russia threatens other European countries. Not just for us. When there is even nuclear blackmail from Russia.

Sonnenfeld told the Washington Post that staying in Russia undermines the idea of ​​sanctions, which is to freeze civil society – enraging people enough to challenge their government. People all over the world can pressure companies to stop doing business in pariah countries by spending their money elsewhere. These companies, after all, seem to get the gist.

Perhaps the companies that have fallen behind will learn their lesson faster. Businesses have been warned to get out – otherwise. Not by governments but by the hacker group Anonymous. The international collective has already compromised Russian state-controlled media and government websites, substituting graphic videos of bloodshed in Ukraine for Kremlin-run programs.

On Sunday, Anonymous took to Twitter to warn Western companies still doing business in Russia that they should leave before it’s too late, saying: “Get out of Russia! We give you 48 hours to think it over and withdraw from Russia, otherwise you will be under our lens!

On Tuesday, the collective leaked 10 gigabytes of data from Nestlé, the world’s largest food company. The data contains emails, passwords, business information and more. How damaging this is remains to be seen, but it is clear that activists will not be left on the sidelines.

Consumers can also leave their mark by choosing to spend their money on companies that refuse to fund Putin’s war.


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