Western Businesses Suspend Operations in Russia in Response to Invasion of Ukraine

Christian Pensa, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Many large corporations, including Sony, Disney, McDonald’s, and even credit card companies have recently decided to suspend business with Russia in response to their invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

Among the earliest to respond to the crisis was Netflix. Under Russia’s Vitrinia TV law, Netflix would be required to host 20 free, state-run channels on their streaming service. Netflix refused, and no longer provides its services in the country. Warner Bros., Disney, and Sony all followed shortly thereafter, putting their upcoming film releases on hold. In various statements, the companies announced that the releases of The Batman (2022), Turning Red (2022), and Morbius (2022) would be put on hold given the recent actions of the Russian government.

Credit card companies followed suit, with Visa being the first to pull out. In a statement from Al Kelly, chairman and CEO of Visa Inc., it was announced that, “Effective immediately, Visa will work with its clients and partners within Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the coming days. Once complete, all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and any Visa cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia will no longer work within the Russian Federation.” MasterCard and American Express were next, announcing similar plans to cancel transactions in Russia.

Most recently, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski announced their intentions to pull out of Russia as well. “In Russia, we employ 62,000 people who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald’s brand to serve their communities. We work with hundreds of local, Russian suppliers and partners who produce the food for our menu and support our brand,” Kempczinski said. “At the same time, our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine.”

Not all companies in the United States shared the opinion that the best thing to do was to cut ties with Russia. Spotify has announced that their services would continue to be available in Russia, to “ensure that Spotify continues to serve as an important source of global and regional news at a time when access to information is more important than ever.” PepsiCo had similar plans, saying, “We have a responsibility to continue to offer our [non-beverage] products in Russia, including daily essentials such as milk and other dairy offerings, baby formula and baby food. By continuing to operate, we will also continue to support the livelihoods of our 20,000 Russian associates and the 40,000 Russian agricultural workers in our supply chain as they face significant challenges and uncertainty ahead.”

While any of these changes may not be majorly significant, together they put quite the strain on the lives of Russian citizens and the economy. The responses of these companies only show that the Russian government will face challenges if they choose to continue their war in Ukraine.