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Cutting Ties with Russia

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Cutting Ties with Russia

A Guide to Decision-Making Now and in the Future

The Conference Board,

5 min read
4 take-aways
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Business response to social and political crises must be principled and well thought-through. 

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Following its invasion of Ukraine in March 2022, many international companies voluntarily withdrew from Russia. Yet, morally driven business decisions like these must be well thought-through, as companies will inevitably confront similar situations in the future. The Conference Board’s Paul Washington and Merel Spierings offer guidance for businesses weighing their response to violations of international law committed by countries with which they have business ties. The board’s three-step process for taking a principled decision serves as a well-reasoned starting point for international business leaders.


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered an unprecedented response from the international business community.

Russia’s war on Ukraine set off an extraordinary reaction from US and European companies. At no other time in history have companies withdrawn from a country as broadly and rapidly as they did from Russia in March 2022. Companies like FedEx, Mastercard and Visa, for example, suspended operations. Apple, H&M and many others halted sales. Social media companies like Facebook and Google no longer accepted ads from Russian state media. International oil companies like BP and Shell severed partnerships with Russian projects.

Companies are answerable to a broad range of stakeholders and must follow a principled and consistent decision-making process. 

Many companies withdrew from Russia within a short time frame based on limited information. Yet, businesses must have pre-existing...

About the Authors

Paul Washington is executive director and Merel Spierings is a researcher at the ESG Center of The Conference Board.

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