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March 1, 2022

As Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine escalates and Western countries impose economic sanctions in response, private companies are severing their own ties to Russia.

One of the first moves came when Europe’s governing football body, UEFA, relocated the May 28 Champions League final from Russia to Paris, and the European Broadcasting Union barred Russia from competing in the Eurovision Song Contest.

But slowly a deluge of corporations came out in support of Ukraine and cut business ties with Russia, ushering in a wave of private sanctions on the country. Here is a rundown of Western companies that are exiting Russia in the face of escalating tensions.

Danish shipping giant Maersk said on Tuesday it would stop taking new, non-essential orders to and from Russia, due to sanctions imposed over the Ukraine Invasion. "Bookings to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies," Maersk said in a statement according to AFP, adding it would try to honor bookings placed prior to the sanctions.

Maersk generated roughly 2.5% of its total revenue from Russia last year and operates container shipping routes to and from St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea, Vladivostok and Vostochny on Russia's east coast, and Novorossiysk in the Black Sea. Maersk said the suspension would "cover all Russian gateway ports until further notice."

Shell has joined the list of oil and gas companies exiting their interests in Russia. The Anglo-Dutch energy giant announced it was exiting its joint ventures with Russian state-owned energy firm Gazprom and other related entities, which in total are worth around $3 billion.

The planned sale notably includes Shell’s 10% equity stake in the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. The $10 billion pipeline was going to run from Russia to Germany, doubling Europe’s gas imports from Russia, but was halted by Germany on Feb. 22 after the Ukraine invasion.

Other things included in the sale are Shell’s 27.5% stake in Sakhalin-II liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility, and its 50% stakes in the Salym Petroleum Development and the Gydan energy venture.

Facebook parent Meta barred Russian state media from running ads or making money on its platform worldwide on Friday.

In response, Moscow said it would partially limit its citizens’ access to Facebook, accusing the social media giant of “censoring” Russian media.

Additionally, Meta announced on Monday it had taken down a disinformation network on Facebook and Instagram after finding Russian news sites posing as independent news entities using fake personas to share the content across social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, and also Russian Odnoklassniki and VK. They then restricted access to Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik on its platforms across the European Union.

A day after Meta’s ad ban, Alphabet’s Google did the same, barring Russia’s state-owned media outlet RT and other channels from receiving money for ads on their websites, apps, and YouTube videos. Google also barred Russian state-funded media outlets from using its ad technology to generate revenue on their own websites and apps.

Google said it had removed hundreds of YouTube channels and thousands of videos for violating its policies and noted it would continue to disrupt Russian disinformation campaigns and hacking.

Russia’s state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, has since demanded Google restore access to Russian media’s YouTube channels, which includes videos produced by RBC, Zvezda TV, and Sputnik, in Ukrainian territory.

Then in a similar move to Facebook, YouTube announced on Tuesday it would block channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe. The changes are underway but Youtube noted, "It'll take time for our systems to fully ramp up."

BP announced today it was dumping its 19.75% stake in Russian state-owned energy giant Rosneft, which is likely to result in the British energy group taking a $25 billion hit.

In a letter to staff on Sunday, BP CEO Bernard Looney wrote that the company intended to exit any related activities in Russia with Rosneft, and that he and BP’s former CEO Bob Dudley would both immediately resign from the Rosneft board.

Norwegian oil and gas producer Equinor said on Monday it would exit its joint ventures in Russia and will stop all new investments in the country. Equinor has a partnership with Rosneft that includes projects throughout Siberia.

Anders Opedal, Equinor’s CEO, called the company’s position in the current situation “untenable,” and Equinor chair Helge Lund described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an “act of aggression, which is having tragic consequences across the region.”

Equinor is two-thirds owned by Norway’s government.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund
Norway’s prime minister said on Sunday that the country’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, will divest all its Russian assets. “We have decided to freeze the fund’s investments and have begun a process of selling out,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said at a news conference.

The fund has shares in some 47 Russian companies and government bonds, which in total was worth 25 billion Norwegian kroner ($2.83 billion) at the end of 2021. The value of these investments was down from 30 billion kroner a year earlier, the government said.

Norway’s largest pension fund KLP also said on Monday it would divest from Russia.

The world’s largest truckmaker, Daimler Truck, said on Monday it would “immediately suspend all our business activities in Russia,” including a contract with local truckmaker Kamaz to manufacture civilian vehicles.

While Daimler Truck’s move to exit Russia is unlikely to have a large impact on its profits, as it sells just a few thousand vehicles in Russia annually, it signals a strong message as Kamaz makes utility vehicles for Russia’s armed forces.

The two most powerful bodies in football, FIFA and UEFA, have acted in unison to suspend Russian soccer teams from international competition. This means the Russian national soccer team will be unable to compete for a qualification for this winter’s World Cup. “FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice,” the two football associations wrote in a joint statement.

Additionally, a number of football clubs have dropped Russian sponsors. English football club Manchester United booted Russian airline Aeroflot as a sponsor, while German football club Schalke ended its partnership with Gazprom.

SOURCE: Fortune.Com