Russia-Ukraine conflict: From Apple to Amex, the exodus of Western brands from Moscow

Russia's currency, the ruble, has crashed to a record low against the US dollar, pushing authorities to scramble to avoid a financial meltdown

FP Explainers March 03, 2022 11:10:17 IST
Russia-Ukraine conflict: From Apple to Amex, the exodus of Western brands from Moscow

File image of Russia's Vladimir Putin riding a Harley bike. In response to the offensive, the motorcycle manufacturer has stopped shipping bikes to Russia. AFP

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing Western companies to reassess their businesses in Russia, with some quitting the country and others suspending their operations there as sanctions intensify.

It has been a week since Russia began its offensive, and in that duration the Kremlin has found itself increasingly isolated in recent days, with the United States and Western allies imposing an extraordinary set of measures that have sent its currency plummeting.

Here’s a look at the companies’ exodus from Russia.

Oil and gas

News agency Reuters reported that energy giants BP and Shell were exiting Russia in response to the conflict.

Shell {SHEL.L} on Monday said it would exit all its Russian operations, including the flagship Sakhalin 2 LNG plant in which it holds a 27.5 per cent stake, and which is 50 per cent owned and operated by Russian gas group Gazprom.

"We cannot – and we will not – stand by," Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said in a statement announcing the move and calling Russia's attack a "senseless act of military aggression". He added that his company was talking to governments about securing energy supplies to Europe.

BP also announced on Sunday that it would offload its 19.75 per cent stake in Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft {ROSN} following Russia’s “act of aggression in Ukraine.”

"The decisions we have taken as a board are not only the right thing to do, but are also in the long-term interests of BP," chief executive Bernard Looney was quoted as saying. He and former BP executive Bob Dudley resigned their seats from Rosneft's board on Sunday. The company said it could be charged as much as $25 billion for ending its Russian investments.

"Russia's attack on Ukraine is an act of aggression which is having tragic consequences across the region. BP has operated in Russia for over 30 years, working with brilliant Russian colleagues," chairman Helge Lund said in a statement. "However, this military action represents a fundamental change. It has led the BP board to conclude, after a thorough process, that our involvement with Rosneft, a state-owned enterprise, simply cannot continue."

Exxon Mobil also announced its decision to leave its last remaining oil-and-gas project in Russia, and not to invest in new developments in the oil-rich nation.

The Sakhalin-1 venture is "one of the largest single international direct investments in Russia," according to the project's website.

Norway’s Equinor also announced on 28 February it plans to exit ventures with Russia estimated to be worth about $1.2 billion.

Similarly, Total Energies of France also said that it would stop providing capital for new projects in Russia, but has not yet said it will pull out of the country all together.


On 2 March, Boeing suspended maintenance and technical support for Russian airlines.

Airbus also stopped sending spare parts to Russia and supporting Russian airlines, but said it was analysing whether its Moscow engineering centre could keep providing services to local customers under Western sanctions.

Shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk A/S, {MAERSK.B.Denmark} said it was considering a possible suspension of all deliveries to and from Russia to comply with sanctions.

US automakers General Motors and Ford also decided that it would suspend all exports to Russia.

In addition to this, Germany's Volkswagen said it was suspending deliveries of cars in Russia.

Daimler also said that it intended to sell 15 per cent of its stake in the Russian firm Kamaz. “I am more than horrified that there can be a war of aggression in Europe,” said Daimler labour official and supervisory board member Michael Brecht. “We cannot simply go back to business as usual.”

Mercedez-Benz is also seeking to divest its stake in Kamaz.

Sweden's Volvo also said it would stop shipments to Russia, as well as production and sales in the country.

Motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson has stopped shipping bikes to Russia.


While some tech firms have moved to try and curb the spread of Russian disinformation campaigns, some have announced their move to block their sites in Moscow.

Meta said it would block Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik on Facebook platforms in Europe, and YouTube announced a similar measure.

Apple has also stopped sales in Russia, and is limiting services including Apple Pay.

Tech company Oracle has also puts its operations in Russia on pause.

Banking system

Global bank HSBC, France’s Société Générale and South Korea’s Shinhan Bank have all wound down their relationships with a host of Russian banks.

News agency AFP reported that credit card companies such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express were blocking Russian banks from their payment networks following international sanctions.

Mastercard Chief Executive Michael Miebach said: "As a result of sanction orders, we have blocked multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network. We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve."

Entertainment and retail

Major entertainment firms have also taken a stance against Russia with Disney suspending the release of films in Russia, including the upcoming Pixar movie Turning Red.

Warner Media and Sony Pictures followed suit, saying they would also pause film releases in Russia.

Variety reported that Netflix has paused new projects in Russia.

Music streaming giant Spotify also closed its office in Russia and removed Russian state-sponsored content from its service.

The move came in response to the "unprovoked attack against Ukraine", Spotify said in a statement, adding it had taken several measures as a result.

"We have closed our office in Russia until further notice," said the Stockholm-based company.

Sports giant Nike halted online sales, saying it couldn’t guarantee deliveries to Russia.

Fashion outlet H&M has also stopped its deliveries to Russia.

With inputs from agencies

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