German businesses react to Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Bracing for sanctions: German businesses react to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, 24 February 2022
German business leaders have reacted emotionally to...Russian attack on Ukraine. For years, German policy on Russia has been to promote positive political change through economic ties — the so-called Wandel durch Handel, or "change through trade."
Germany is one of Russia's most significant foreign investors, with direct investment amounting to about €25 billion ($28 billion).
According to the Moscow branch of the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad, there are 3,651 German-run companies active in Russia at the moment. In 2019, these firms employed more than 277,000 people.
The situation is different in Ukraine. While there are an estimated 2,000 German companies active there, employing around 50,000 people, German direct investment there amounted to about €3.6 billion in 2019, according to the German central bank, the Bundesbank.
Many of these businesses are now facing uncertainty and possible sanctions at best, and crisis situations, with their staff in physical danger, at worst...
The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association of Germany, or VDMA, issued a statement on the conflicton..."The VDMA and its members are stunned that Russia has started a war in Europe," Karl Haeusgen, head of the association said. The VDMA represents over 3,400 German businesses working in mechanical engineering.
His association supported "the decision to impose tough sanctions," Haeusgen added. That was despite the fact that the association was aware that the sanctions would have an impact on its own sector, "the extent of which cannot currently be estimated."
Hamburg-based port and logistics group HHLA suspended work at its container terminal in the Ukrainian port town of Odesa.
German company, Knauf, one of Europe's leading suppliers of building materials with annual revenues of around €12.5 billion ($14.1 billion), has also closed down its factory in Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, due to the Russian invasion...
Metro, a German food wholesaling giant, also expressed concern. "Our responsibility as a company in Russia is above all to our approximately 10,000 employees and 2.5 million customers," a spokesperson said on Tuesday...
German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom is in a similar position. It doesn't have any staff in Ukraine but it does employ around 2,000 people at a software development site in St. Petersburg in Russia.
Deutsche Telekom boss, Tim Höttges, has spoken of offering staff there visas and re-locating business activities currently undertaken in Russia.