We reviewed mission statements of 16 largest multinational taxpayers in Russia that remained in the country after the invasion of Ukraine on February 24: Philip Morris International, JTI (Japan Tobacco International), PepsiCo, Nestlé, Mars, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Auchan Retail, Bosch, Cargill, METRO/MAKRO, Mondelēz International, Kia Worldwide, The Coca-Cola Company, Mondi Group, and Alphabet Inc.
These are the words that reoccur most often in the statements designed to guide the companies in all their actions.
Let’s see how these lofty declarations stack up to the actual behaviors of those businesses that now, nine months after Russia launched the worst war to shake the European continent since World War II, still choose to contribute to the Russian war machine by paying taxes in Russia.
RESPECT. These companies certainly respect authoritarianism and dictatorship. Most of all, they respect profits. Human lives, not so much. Neither do they respect democracy, freedom, international law, peaceful world order, human rights or human lives.
VALUES. Putin and his cronies said more than once that they are on the warpath to protect traditional Russian values. Apparently, these include waging war on sovereign nations, imprisoning political opponents, and persecuting minorities, to name a few. Just days ago Putin signed a presidential decree to protect “traditional values” from “gay propaganda” and “the United States and other unfriendly foreign countries.” Apparently, this is totally acceptable to the multinationals still paying taxes in Russia.
PEOPLE. 8.3 thousand Ukrainian civilians were killed since February 24, 2022, and 13.9 thousand were injured. 465 Ukrainian children were killed, and 942 were wounded. Nearly 8 million Ukrainians were forced to seek shelter outside Ukraine. Mass graves, evidence of torture and other atrocities are being discovered in newly liberated towns. Russia continues to bomb and shell Ukrainian cities every single day, destroying power plants and residential buildings. In Russia itself, employees of these companies are subject to conscription, per Putin’s “partial mobilization decree,” and can be sent to the frontlines to kill and to die.
Need we say more? It’s time for these multinational corporations to stop talking and start acting. First call of business: to withdraw from the Russian market and stop funding the war.