Netflix, TikTok, Major Accounting Firms Suspend Service—Here’s The List Of Companies Cutting Ties With Russia Over Invasion

Forbes
Published 10 months ago
Russia And Technology Companies Photo Illustrations

TOPLINE

TikTok announced Sunday it had “no choice” but to suspend live-streaming and new videos in Russia after President Vladimir Putin signed a new law banning “fake” news, joining a growing list of companies like Netflix, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers that are distancing themselves from Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

KEY FACTS

KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, two of the four major U.S. accounting firms, each announced Sunday their Russia-based firms would be leaving their respective networks, with KPMG’s Belarus-based firm leaving as well: “We believe we have a responsibility, along with other global businesses, to respond to the Russian government’s ongoing military attack on Ukraine,” KPMG said in its release.

Netflix paused production and acquisitions of four Russian projects, Deadline and Variety reported Wednesday, siting anonymous sources, and told Variety Sunday it was suspending its streaming service in Russia.

TikTok announced on Twitter Sunday it is suspending live-streaming and new content to its video service in Russia while it reviews the “safety implications” of Russia’s law, which went into effect Friday and bans any content the Russian government deems “fake news” about its military—with the publishing of such content punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

American Express is suspending all operations in Russia in response to the country’s “unjustified attack on the people of Ukraine,” the credit card company announced Sunday in a press release, adding it is ending all business operations in Belarus.

Mastercard and Visa each announced Saturday their cards will no longer function at Russian merchants or ATMs, and that cards issued in Russia by Russian banks will no longer function internationally, following their earlier block of a number of Russian financial institutions targeted by sanctions from their networks, in compliance with Western sanctions.

EA suspended sales of its games and other content, including virtual currency bundles, in Russia and Belarus Friday, after removing the Russian national team from FIFA and the Russian and Belarusian teams from its NHL games earlier this week.

Hermès became the first luxury brand to suspend operations in Russia, announcing Friday it would temporarily close its stores in the country, saying it is “deeply concerned by the situation in Europe,” the Wall Street Journal reported, followed shortly by a similar announcement from Chanel, which added it will also suspend deliveries to Russia.

Microsoft said Friday it was suspending new sales of its products and services in Russia, and is “proactively” working “to help cybersecurity officials in Ukraine defend against Russian attacks.”

Samsung halted shipments to Russia on Friday, the company told Reuters and Bloomberg, following a similar move by Apple.

Airbnb is “suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus,” CEO Brian Chesky tweeted Thursday, days after the apartment sharing firm said it would offer free, short-term housing for 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Google said Thursday it will no longer sell online advertising in Russia through its search engine, YouTube or outside publishing partners, according to Reuters, and the apps for Russian state-run media outlets RT and Sputnik were removed from Google’s Play store Wednesday.

Volkswagen suspended production of its vehicles in Russian cities Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod and paused exports to the country.

A statement from the companies in charge of IKEA’s stores and supply, reported by Reuters, said the “huge human impact” of the war, as well as supply chain disruptions, prompted the firm to take close its shops in Russia.

Mercedes-Bensaid Wednesday it is suspending the export of passenger cars and vans to Russia and is pausing local manufacturing in the country.

Software company SAP announced Wednesday it is “stopping business in Russia aligned with sanctions” and suspending product and services sales in the country, though Ukrainian Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted it did not go far enough, and asked the organization to “stop support of SAP products, as long as Russian tanks and missiles attack Ukraine!”

Spotify closed its Russian office indefinitely and followed suit with fellow tech leaders Google and Apple by removing all content from RT and Sputnik from its platform in response to the country’s “unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” though the company says it is not disabling its service in Russia as it believes it is critical to maintain a “global flow of information,” Variety reported Wednesday.

Technology company Oracle tweeted Wednesday that it has “already suspended all operations in the Russian Federation,” after Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov publicly urged the company to stop doing business in Russia “until the conflict is resolved.”

Clothing retailer H&M said Wednesday its Ukrainian stores have been temporarily closed for safety reasons, and the company has temporarily paused its sales in Russia.

Following decisions Monday by FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations to bar the Russian team from competing, EA Sports announced Wednesday it has begun removing the Russian national team and Russian clubs from its FIFA video games “in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”

Honda suspended exports of its cars and motorcycles to Russia, with a spokesperson for the company telling Reuters on Wednesday it was because of shipping and payment difficulties.

Dell paused sales of its products in Russia on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

ExxonMobil announced Tuesday it will exit a joint venture off Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East, and will not invest in other developments in the country following its invasion of Ukraine, which the company said “violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine and endangers its people.”

Boeing said Tuesday it has suspended major operations in Moscow along with maintenance, parts and technical support services for Russian airlines, adding that it shut down its Kyiv office, according to Politico.

Streaming provider Roku removed the Russian state-controlled television network RT from its channel stores in the U.S. Tuesday, one day after it was removed from European stores, according to Deadline and Reuters.

Nike has disabled online product purchases in Russia as it cannot guarantee delivery to customers in the country, the brand said on its Russian website, directing customers to local Nike stores.

Ford announced Tuesday it was suspending its commercial van JV in Russia “until further notice.”

Apple said Tuesday it paused sales of its products in Russia, restricted apps for RT at Sputnik so they can only be downloaded in the country and disabled the traffic feature within Apple Maps in Ukraine “as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.”

In a blog post Tuesday, Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, said the social platform has stopped running ads in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, will halt ad sales in Russia and Belarus and has pledged $15 million to organizations helping those in Ukraine.

A spokesperson for BMW told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday the company “will stop our local production and export for the Russian market until further notice” and said the luxury car maker “condemn[s] the aggression against Ukraine.”

Meta executives said Tuesday posts from Russian state media are no longer being recommended to users by Facebook’s algorithm, and soon won’t be by Instagram’s, according to The Verge, days after the company said it restricted access to Russian state media accounts in Ukraine, blocked Russian state media from running ads and earning money from their accounts on the platform and said it took down posts related to a disinformation campaign targeting Ukraine.

DirecTV told Axios on Tuesday that the company is “accelerating this year’s contract expiration timeline” of RT America and “will no longer offer their programming effective immediately,” hours after the National Association Of Broadcasters called on broadcasters “to cease carrying any state-sponsored programming with ties to the Russian government or its agents.”

Adidas said on Tuesday it is suspending its partnership with the Russian Football Union, effective immediately, bringing a halt to the years-long partnership between the soccer program and Europe’s largest sportswear manufacturer.

Maersk, one of the world’s biggest shipping lines, suspended deliveries to and from Russia on Tuesday apart from food, medical and humanitarian supplies, citing the impact of sanctions.

YouTube on Tuesday blocked channels operated by Russian-state-funded outlets Russia Today and Sputnik News across Europe, days after it temporarily demonetized RT and other channels Saturday and prevented it from earning money through ads on its videos, and limited access to these channels in Ukraine.

The Walt Disney Company, which owns Marvel Studios, 20th Century Studios, Pixar and other film properties, announced Monday it is pausing its release of theatrical films in Russia, including its anticipated Pixar film Turning Red, “given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis.”

A spokesperson for Netflix told the Wall Street Journal Monday that “given the current situation,” the streaming service has no plans to distribute news, sports and entertainment channels from Russian state media, despite a new Russian regulation that requires organizations with more than 100,000 subscribers to carry them, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Shell announced Monday it would divest in several ventures with Gazprom, a Russian-state owned gas company totaling to roughly $3 billion in value.

Twitter said Monday it would label tweets that share information from Russian state media accounts, and announced Friday it was temporarily suspending ads in Ukraine and Russia “to ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don’t detract from it.”

Etsy announced Monday it was canceling all balances owed to the company by sellers in Ukraine, including listing and advertising fees, amounting to roughly $4 million, to alleviate financial hardships felt by those in the country.

Oil giant BP divested a roughly 20% stake in Russian oil company Rosneft Sunday, and announced the immediate resignation of two BP-nominated Rosneft board members, with BP chair Helge Lund calling Russia’s attack on Ukraine an “act of aggression” and saying BP’s “involvement with Rosneft, a state-owned enterprise, simply cannot continue.”

Verizon waived residential and mobile call fees to and from Ukraine Friday through March 10, and waived voice and text roaming charges for those in the country.

KEY BACKGROUND

Organizations around the world are also taking action against Russia. The International Olympics Committee requested Monday that sports organizations around the world ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing. Friday the Eurovision song contest barred Russia from competing this year, and Formula 1 canceled the Russian Grand Prix. The international fallout comes as the U.S. and other Western allies voted to remove some Russian banks from SWIFT over the weekend, and executed other rounds of sanctions on Russian financial institutions. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also been the direct target of sanctions, with the U.S. freezing his personal assets and those of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other wealthy Russian oligarchs.

TANGENT

While some major consulting and accounting firms have condemned Russia’s actions, most have not pledged to fully stop doing business with the country. McKinsey & Co global managing partner Bob Sternfels wrote on LinkedIn Sunday that “our firm will no longer serve any government entity in Russia,” though a company spokesperson declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal Tuesday about whether this policy will extend to state-controlled companies. An executive from Bain and Co. condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but did not specify if any changes have been made with their Russian clients. The “Big Four” accounting firms—KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young—have not severed ties, and legal regulations may make it difficult for them to do so, according to the Journal.

FURTHER READING

Americans Want Companies To Take Action—Not Just Make Statements—Against Russia For Invading Ukraine, Poll Finds (Forbes)

By Marisa Dellatto, Forbes Staff

By Mason Bissada, Forbes Staff