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1 Feb 2023

Alistair MacDonald,
Ben Dummett, WSJ

Ukraine: Govt. runs campaign to pressure Western executives at Russian companies to leave, stressing they indirectly support Moscow's war efforts

Ukraine denounces Western executives at Russian companies, 1 February 2023

Ukraine is ratcheting up pressure on Western executives who have retained posts at Russian companies, saying their presence is indirectly supporting Moscow’s war effort.

Many Western executives cut ties with Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year, sometimes in opposition to the war or to comply with Western sanctions. Others remained for various reasons, including saying they had a fiduciary duty to their investors, a responsibility to local employees or yearslong ties to Russia that were hard to break.

Now, Ukraine’s government is running a campaign to name and shame Western individuals still working for Russian companies with the aim of pressuring more to leave.

While executives aren’t breaking any laws by working at companies that aren’t sanctioned by the U.S. or its allies, Ukraine says the continued Western presence in Russian boardrooms risks undermining broader efforts to isolate the country internationally.

“The work of top Western management in Russian companies sends a false signal to Russian society and the whole world that Moscow has done nothing wrong,” said Agiya Zagrebelska of Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention, which is leading the push to pressure Western executives.

By working for Russian companies, Westerners are effectively helping fund Russia’s war effort because those businesses pay corporate taxes to the Kremlin, Ms. Zagrebelska said.

Ukraine has built a database of more than 300 directorships at Russian companies that it says are held by Westerners, and made it publicly available via a website. German, U.S. and British executives are the most prevalent among those working for Russian companies, with finance and trade the most common industries, the data show.

Kyiv says it is asking Western governments to talk to these executives about their continued role in Russia...