As the world watches the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the collective outrage against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government builds.
Everywhere, the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag can be seen as a sign of solidarity.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the war is the unprecedented nature of corporate boycotts against a sovereign nation.
Companies all over the world want to be seen also as standing in solidarity with Ukraine, and because of this, many are putting any business ties with Russia on hold. Some are are leaving altogether.
Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal joined the massive number of companies leaving Russia following Putin’s “special military operation” against Ukraine.https://t.co/luzfLMVfVl
— Michael (@val5linx) March 6, 2022
From auto makers to social media, companies who have a worldwide reach are making their voices heard by massively downscaling operations, or suspending them.
Ford Motor Co. does not have a large Russian operation, but they have many Ukrainian employees. Ford has begun to downsize in Russia. Volkswagen has put production in Russia on hold and has ceased exports of new vehicles to Russia.
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It may become more difficult to fly out of Russia as both Boeing and Airbus say they have suspended parts and maintenance service for Russian airlines. American airlines say they are avoiding Russian airspace.
Energy companies like BP and Shell are shutting out Russia. Exxon has stated it would cease operations and “make no further investments.”
Other giant multinationals like Disney and Ikea, Apple and Google have pulled back as well.
How many Chinese companies are moving in to fill the void our woke companies are creating by leaving Russia? We are only giving China more influence, not taking away Russia’s.
— texas_independence (@Texas_independ) March 7, 2022
Russia Bad, China Good?
The world has had other opportunities to show moral outrage by curbing business practices and has chosen not to. While information has been limited, the world has also been made aware of the horrible human rights violations suffered by the Uyghur Muslim minority population in China, and the suppression of the Chinese people through censorship.
Why was there not more of a demand for a boycott of the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing?
Why has the world not been sufficiently outraged by the atrocious human rights record of the Chinese? The answer could be in the oldest rule of thumb: follow the money.
It is pretty common knowledge that companies like Nike and Apple make enormous profits from their ties to China.
China is Apple’s third largest market behind the United States and Europe, accounting for 20% of revenue. Reuters reported in June of 2021 that Nike expected Chinese revenue to top $11.01 billion.
So is all the sudden concern from corporations all a show?
Cynics would say yes, though I doubt you’d get any companies to admit it.
All these companies “boycotting Russia”
But not one of these companies being asked to leave china who has 1M people in concentration camps as we speak. Why?
don’t #BoycottMcDonalds or any company unless they address real issues
— Kay Brackson (@keybrackson) March 5, 2022
‘Selective’ Moral Outrage
Vladimir Putin has earned the moral outrage of the entire world. Lovers of freedom stand firmly behind the Ukrainian people as they defend their homeland. But are companies around the world setting their moral compass by financial gain?
The United States is the world’s largest economy, followed closely by China. Russia’s economy is roughly $1.48 trillion – smaller than a few American states – and does not come in within nations with the top 25 economies on the world.
Money and morality can make strange bedfellows indeed.
Yale University has been compiling a comprehensive list of all the companies that have downsized or shut down Russian operations: