People look out of the window of a McDonald's restaurant as the towers of the Kremlin are reflected in Moscow. Image Credit: AFP

These Are the Companies Cutting Ties With Russia Over Ukraine

McDonald's Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Paypal Holdings Inc. are temporarily halting operations in Russia, joining a lengthening list of businesses that are cutting ties with the country or suspending business there because of the fallout over the attack on Ukraine nearly two weeks ago.

International sanctions, the closure of airspace and transports links due to the attack, and the financial restrictions on SWIFT and capital controls have made it difficult if not impossible for many companies to supply parts, make payments and deliver goods in Russia. Added to that, the potential international consumer backlash against any company perceived as helping Vladimir Putin's regime means that the exodus of corporations from Russia has become a stampede.

The rout reverses three decades of investment there by foreign businesses after the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, especially in energy. Here are some of the biggest companies that have begun to unravel their connections or halted business dealings:

Oil and gas

Russia's largest foreign investor, BP Plc, led the way with its surprise announcement on Feb. 27 that it would exit its 20% stake in state-controlled Rosneft, a move that could result in a $25 billion write-off and cut the company's global oil and gas production by a third.

Shell Plc followed, citing Russia's "senseless act of military aggression." The company said it would end partnerships with state-controlled Gazprom, including the Sakhalin-II liquefied natural gas facility and its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which Germany has blocked. Both projects are worth about $3 billion. Exxon Mobil Corp. said it would "discontinue" its Sakhalin-1 operations.

Equinor ASA, Norway's state-owned energy giant, said it will start withdrawing from its joint ventures in Russia, worth about $1.2 billion. In parallel, Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, is freezing Russian assets worth about $2.8 billion and said it will come up with a plan to exit by March 15.


Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. said on March 5 they are suspending operations in Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had called on the companies to halt all business in Russia during a video call with U.S. lawmakers. Each of the firms gets about 4% of its net revenue from business linked to the country. American Express followed the next day.

Some critics argued that the steps aren't enough. While the companies said any transactions initiated with their cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and cards issued outside of Russia won't work at Russian merchants or ATMs, consumers inside Russia who have a locally issued card can still pay for goods and services there.

Paypal said on Tuesday it's also suspending services. The company said it can't "reasonably estimate the total potential financial impact that may ultimately result from this situation."

Fitch Group and Moody's Corp. both said they are suspending operations in Russia. The two ratings companies have both slashed Russia's ratings to junk.


In the space of a week, most of the world's biggest carmakers including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG, and Toyota Motor Corp. announced they would halt shipments to Russia or idle plants in the country. Truckmakers Volvo AB and Daimler Truck Holding AG also stopped business activities there.

The automaker with the most to lose, Renault SA, has remained quiet.

The French company's majority control of AvtoVaz, the Soviet-era maker of Ladas, and reliance on Russia for about 12% of its revenue have unnerved investors and Renault has lost more than a third of its market value in two weeks. "Renault has promised to abide by sanctions," Gabriel Attal, the French government spokesman, said on March 3 on France Info radio.

Consumer goods

McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Starbucks Corp. announced they would temporarily halt operations in Russia in a flurry of announcements on Tuesday afternoon. PepsiCo Inc. said it would suspend soft-drink sales in the country but would continue to sell daily essentials such as milk and baby formula.

Some companies' withdrawal makes it easier for others to do the same, said Gene Grabowski, a partner at communications firm KGlobal. Coca-Cola, for example, is a supplier for McDonald's, so McDonald's action deprives it of a major client in the country.

Levi Strauss & Co. whose jeans were a coveted black-market item in the Soviet Union, also suspended commercial operations in Russia, where it gets about 2% of its sales. The "enormous disruption occurring in the region" has made it "untenable" to conduct business as normal, the company said Monday. "Any business considerations are clearly secondary to the human suffering experienced by so many."

Samsung Electronics Co., the leading smartphone seller in Russia with more than 30% of the market, suspended exports to Russia of all its products. Samsung said it will donate $6 million to humanitarian efforts in the region, including $1 million in consumer electronics products.

Amazon.com Inc.'s cloud-computing unit announced in a blog post it will stop accepting new customers in Russia or Belarus. The company said its Amazon Web Services unit had "no data centers, infrastructure or offices in Russia, and we have a long-standing policy of not doing business with the Russian government. We have also stopped allowing new sign-ups for AWS in Russia and Belarus."

Microsoft on March 4 condemned the "unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful attack" of Ukraine and said it's suspending all new sales of products and services in Russia. Apple Inc. halted sales of iPhones and started limiting Apple Pay services and other products in Russia, and removed the RT News and Sputnik News applications from App Stores outside the country. HP Inc., the largest supplier of PCs to Russia, has stopped exports to the country, as has Intel Corp.

Nike Inc. is one of several consumer goods companies that have cited logistical problems as a reason for suspending sales in Russia. Spanish fashion retailer Inditex SA, which has 502 stores in Russia, including 86 Zara outlets, is also temporarily closing all its shops there and halting online sales, saying it "cannot guarantee the continuity of operations and trading conditions."

Others have so far taken limited steps to halt business. Danone SA's General Secretary Laurent Sacchi said the world's largest yogurt maker would suspend investment in Russia, but will continue to sell dairy and baby food.

Danone Chief Executive Officer Antoine de Saint-Affrique was among CEOs and chairmen of some of France's biggest companies who met with Emmanuel Macron on March 4, according to Le Figaro. The French president urged them not to leave Russia hastily, and in any case not without consulting the government, the newspaper reported.


Netflix Inc. is shutting its operations in Russia and said no new customers will be able to sign up, though it's unclear what will happen with existing accounts.

Netflix has fewer than one million customers in Russia and has been operating in the country through a partnership with National Media Group. The streaming giant said previously it won't be carrying required Russian news channels on its local-language service in the country and has paused all projects and acquisitions from Russia, including four programs in production.

Hollywood studios including Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures, Sony Corp., and AT&T Inc.'s WarnerMedia and Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures have also halted or postponed the release of movies in Russia.

Meanwhile other platforms, including TikTok, are suspending or closing services because of Russia's new "fake news" law aimed at silencing dissent and limiting information about the attack of Ukraine. The company, owned by China-based ByteDance Ltd., said its in-app messaging service would not be affected.

On March 4, the Russian government said it was blocking access to Meta Platforms Inc.'s Facebook as part of the crackdown. Hours after the announcement, Meta said it would pause all advertising in the nation and would stop selling ads to Russian businesses. The company's Instagram platform will start to label posts from Russian state media with a warning, ranking them lower and making them harder to find on the app worldwide.

Law and accounting

Wall Street law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton said Tuesday it's exiting its engagements with Russian government and state-owned entities, as well as shuttering its Moscow office. The firm is representing the Russian government in a long-running dispute with Ukraine over a $3 billion bond default. The case is awaiting a ruling in the U.K. Supreme Court.

Baker McKenzie said last week it was reviewing its operations in Russia and will sever ties with several Russian clients in order to comply with sanctions. The Chicago-headquartered firm's clients include Russia's finance ministry and VTB, Russia's second largest bank.

London-based Linklaters said in a statement it was "reviewing all of the firm's Russia-related work."

The big four auditors, EY, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, KPMG LLP and Deloitte all said they are pulling out of Russia. Between them, the four have more than 15,000 staff in Russia and Belarus.

McKinsey & Co. said Thursday it won't undertake new client work in Russia and will halt all client service in the country after its remaining engagements conclude, though its office will remain open to support staff. Earlier, the consultancy condemned the attack and said the firm won't do business with any Russian government entity.

Rising criticism

Even as more companies sever ties with Russia, criticism is rising of banks and corporations that are perceived as profiting from the attack or not doing enough to punish Putin's attack.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a vocal critic of Wall Street, said some banks are "undermining" sanctions by snapping up Russian corporate bonds and suggesting clients buy the nations' assets on the cheap.

In a statement released late Friday, Warren called out market makers JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. following a Bloomberg report that the two banks had been purchasing beaten-down bonds. Banks routinely scoop up debt because clients ask them to, or because they expect to find ready buyers.

JPMorgan analysts also published a note recommending that investors boost holdings of Russian-linked debt to take advantage of a "recovery play" stemming from the selloff that accompanied the country's attack on Ukraine.

"Giant Wall Street banks like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs never miss out on an opportunity to get richer even if it means capitalizing on Russia's attack on Ukraine and undermining sanctions placed on Russian businesses," said Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat.

Representatives for Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan declined to comment on the Bloomberg report that they had been buying up Russian bonds.

The founder of Fast Retailing, which owns fashion giant Uniqlo, said the company wouldn't be withdrawing from Russia, according to the Nikkei. "Clothes are essential items in daily life," Tadashi Yanai, Fast Retailing's chairman and CEO, reportedly said. "Russians have a right to live as well."

Representatives for Fast Retailing in Tokyo didn't respond to inquiries from Bloomberg News. The company operated 50 stores in Russia, as of Feb. 28.