They have blood on their hands: British consumer giants Unilever and Reckitt defy calls to stop selling popular brands in Russia
Two of Britain’s biggest consumer goods giants are among a series of companies facing growing pressure to sever their remaining ties with Russia as the war in Ukraine rages on.
Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser are among the companies with operations in Russia that experts say “have blood on their hands”.
Others include European giant Nestlé, which was lambasted on Twitter by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
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Shmyhal said: “I have spoken to Nestlé Managing Director Mark Schneider about the side effects of staying in the Russian market.
“Unfortunately, he shows no understanding. To pay taxes to the budget of a terrorist country is to kill helpless children and mothers.
“I hope Nestlé changes its mind soon.”
The Swiss giant, whose brands include Aero and Cheerios, said it was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the war and will stop sending some products to the country, but will still sell others such as pet food from company and grain.
Unilever chief executive Alan Jope said the war was a “brutal and senseless act” by Russia.
He promised that Unilever would stop investing in Russia and take no profit from the country.
But he defied calls to remove products from store shelves, including Carte D’Or and Magnum ice cream, Dove soap and Knorr stock.
Reckitt, which makes Durex condoms and Strepsils lozenges, stressed a “duty of care” to its 1,300 employees in Russia and the need for its hygiene and health products. He stopped advertising in the country and froze capital investments, but refused to pull out completely.
Labor MP Chris Bryant, a member of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said: ‘I’m just mystified that some people don’t really understand.
“There are people being bombed from their homes and being forced to flee from Russian aggression, and some people still think it’s important to earn a few more rubles and fund Russian tanks. It is despicable.
Unilever boss Alan Jope (pictured) has promised the company will stop investing in Russia and take no profit from the country.
Bill Browder, the American anti-corruption campaigner and author of Red Notice, How I Became Putin’s No 1 Enemy, said: ‘[Vladimir] Putin murders thousands of civilians in Ukraine.
“It is our responsibility in the West to deprive him of money to continue to execute this war.”
“Any company that continues to support Putin’s regime economically, by doing business there, is indirectly funding his assassination. What we have to do is just cut them, isolate them economically.
“There are a lot of companies that want to be seen as doing the right thing, but have no intention of doing the right thing.
These companies need to be called out and humbled. Any company that hasn’t pulled out has blood on its hands.
European brewing giants Heineken, AB Inbev and Carlsberg are also still active in Russia.
They retired their flagship brands and closed their Russian operations, but continue to brew and sell beer in the country.
Heineken has stopped selling its namesake beer in Russia, but still sells Lagunitas IPA and local brands. Russia’s ruling party has threatened Western businesses, warning that those who leave the country risk having their assets nationalized.
Danish brewer Carlsberg said it took the threat “very seriously”. He said: “If we close our Baltika business in Russia, it really amounts to handing over billions of crowns in assets to the Russian government, which will also benefit from future income from the brewery.”
“Between the choice of leaving billions of crowns to the Russian government or continuing to operate so that local employees maintain their livelihoods – while donating the profits generated to humanitarian organizations – we believe the latter is preferable.”