Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Companies Are Exiting Russia — to Preserve Their Bottom Line

Large multinational companies like IKEA and Toyota are suspending business in Russia. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep up exploitation and profit levels, even under the guise of corporate social responsibility and solidarity.

Clara Mallo

March 6, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
A Russian IKEA store. Masked patrons exit and enter on the right.

In the past week, large multinational companies have begun leaving or closing stores in Russia. In addition to the financial and reputational risks of doing business in the country, these companies are facing disruptions to global production chains caused by the war in Ukraine. This corporate exodus adds to the measures already taken by the U.S. and European Union to stifle the Russian economy, which overwhelmingly affect the Russian working class.

Among the companies that are exiting or halting sales in Russia are U.S. and European companies, as well as large multinationals like H&M, Volkswagen, IKEA, Mango, Toyota, Apple, Nike, and General Motors. Some oil companies have also begun limiting their purchase of crude oil from Russia, and Norwegian oil and gas producer Equinor has announced plans to fully exit the country.

The furniture company IKEA decided on Thursday to temporarily suspend its activity in Russia and Belarus, including exports, imports, production, and retail. The exception is Mega, IKEA’s chain of shopping centers, which the company is keeping open to ensure access to essentials. Although IKEA has assured that it plans to stay in Russia for the long term and claims to have taken measures to ensure employment, income, and security for staff and their families, the business suspension will affect 15,000 employees.

Toyota and Volkswagen made similar announcements on the same day. Toyota was more specific, citing conflict-related supply-chain disruptions in its decision to suspend business in Russia. Toyota’s factory directly employs some 2,600 workers who will be affected by this stoppage. Volkswagen’s closure of two plants will affect at least 4,000 workers.

The pattern of these closures — IKEA’s focus on its furniture stores, and auto manufacturers’ and other companies’ temporary suspensions — point to supply-chain and communication disruptions underlying these companies’ decisions. In other words, while these companies claim business suspensions are due to their corporate social responsibility policies and solidarity with the plight of Ukrainians, in reality they are responding to market disruptions, and trying to anticipate future uncertainty, such as future sanctions against Russia.

Multinational companies and imperialism seek to minimize costs by planning production on a global scale. That is why companies like Toyota, Volkswagen and IKEA will have no problem finding cheaper places to continue producing at low cost by exploiting the global working class. And they’ll have no problem reactivating their plants in Russia once the post-war reorganization allows it — they care about maximizing their profits, not about ethics and morality.  

Regardless of these companies’ real motives, the fact is that every measure against the Russian economy has serious consequences for the Russian people in the midst of a crisis, including shutdowns by multinationals. International working-class unity is more essential than ever, and we cannot place any faith in corporations — they’ll do whatever it takes to keep up exploitation and profit levels, even under the guise of corporate social responsibility and solidarity.

Originally published in Spanish on March 5 in La Izquierda Diario.es.

Translation by Otto Fors

Facebook Twitter Share


Protesters march alongside a huge banner that reads Insurgiamos

The ‘Insorgiamo!’ Movement in Italy: Take Back a Factory, Organize a City, Fight for Everything

On Sunday, May 15, a national public assembly organized by the “Insorgiamo!” — “We are Rising up!” — movement will be held in Florence, Italy. The movement began with the struggle against a factory closure and the workers’ efforts to reopen it, and from there has taken up other social demands.

A New Phase of the War in Ukraine

Russia’s war in Ukraine has entered its third month. Putin’s failure to win a quick victory, while NATO-armed Ukraine resists but cannot defeat the Russian invasion, has led to a stalemate — one that is deepening the international character of the conflict and thus the risk of escalation.

Claudia Cinatti

May 2, 2022
French President Emmanuel Macron raises his fist in front of a crowd of supporters waving French flags.

Macron, the ‘President of the Rich,’ Reelected in France Amid Record Abstention

Emmanuel Macron has won a second term as president of France in an election marked by record abstention. As he prepares to continue his war against French social gains, the Far Right is consolidating its base in opposition to the failures of Macronism. Building a bloc of resistance is now more urgent than ever.

Damien Bernard

April 25, 2022

Thousands Take to the Streets in France against the Far Right, Many Reject Both Le Pen and Macron

More than 10,000 people demonstrated in Paris on April 16 against the Far Right. Students blamed the government for the Right’s rise, rejected a lesser-evil vote for Macron against Le Pen in the second round of voting on April 24, and called for preparing a “third social round” to protect the gains of the French people.

Mahdi Ali

April 20, 2022


Reading Rosa Luxemburg’s ‘Junius Pamphlet’ in Times of War

While she was in prison in 1915, Rosa Luxemburg wrote an underground pamphlet titled The Crisis of German Social Democracy. As war rages in Europe, this text has many important insights for socialists.

Nathaniel Flakin

May 26, 2022

All That’s Left Podcast: Socialist Feminism and the Fight for Abortion Rights

In this episode, Tatiana Cozzarelli talks with New York abortion provider Angelique Saavedra to talk about the attacks on abortion rights and the way forward from a socialist feminist perspective.

Left Voice

May 26, 2022

Two Years After the George Floyd Uprising: A Changed Generation, An Unchanged System

George Floyd was murdered two years ago today. It set off a massive uprising that changed a generation.

Inflation: Wages versus Profits

Here, we publish Marxist economist Michael Roberts' analysis of the relationship between wages and profit in the inflationary environment of today.

Michael Roberts

May 25, 2022