Russian economy takes a hit as companies halt business

(CNN Business)A growing number of international companies, including Apple, Disney and Ford, are dialing back operations in Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Exxon announced it would quit its last Russian project, while Boeing said that it had suspended major operations in Moscow.
Other global energy players, including BP and Shell, have similarly moved to distance themselves. And entertainment studios, like Disney and CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia, have stopped releasing films in the country.

    Russia tries to stop Western companies fleeing the country
    Russia has been trying to stop the exodus, with new capital controls announced this week. According to the country’s state media on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that Western companies were taking decisions because of “political pressure,” and would be prevented from selling Russian assets until that subsides.

      Meanwhile, countries around the world have been imposing sanctions against Russia, with new measures from the European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland and Australia unveiled in recent days.

      Here’s a look at the latest major corporate announcements.


      Ford announced Tuesday that it was suspending its operations in Russia. The American automaker has a 50% stake in Ford Sollers, a joint venture that employs at least 4,000 people and is shared with Russian company Sollers.
      Ford had said earlier Tuesday that it was “deeply concerned about the situation in Ukraine,” but did not go so far as to stop operations in the three Russian cities where the company has plants: St. Petersburg, Elabuga and Naberezhnye Chelny.

      A Ford dealership and service center.
      The company notes that it has “significantly wound down” its Russian operations in recent years, and has “a strong contingent of Ukrainian nationals working at Ford around the world.”
      General Motors said Friday that it was halting all exports to the country “until further notice.”
      GM doesn’t have a significant presence there: It only sells about 3,000 vehicles a year through 16 dealer locations, according to a spokesperson. That’s out of more than 6 million vehicles the Detroit-based automaker sells annually worldwide.


      Boeing said Tuesday that it would suspend support for Russian airlines.
      A company spokesperson confirmed that it was pausing “parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines,” and had also “suspended major operations in Moscow and temporarily closed our office in Kyiv.”
      “As the conflict continues, our teams are focused on ensuring the safety of our teammates in the region,” the representative added.
      Airbus followed Boeing with a similar move on Wednesday. In a statement, the planemaker said it has “suspended support services to Russian airlines, as well as the supply of spare parts to the country.”

      Big Tech

      Apple has stopped selling its products in Russia, the company announced Tuesday.
      The company said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned” about the Russian invasion. In response, it has also moved to limit access to digital services, such as Apple Pay, inside Russia, and restricted the availability of Russian state media applications outside the country.

      A re:Store shop in central Moscow. re:Store is one of the largest Apple resellers in Russia.
      Facebook (FB)-parent Meta said Monday that it would block access to Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik across the European Union.
      The move comes after receiving “requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media,” Nick Clegg, the company’s VP of global affairs, wrote in a tweet.
      Meta has also said it has applied algorithmic restrictions to Russian state media that should prevent it from surfacing as prominently in users’ feeds.
      Twitter (TWTR) has similarly announced plans to “reduce the visibility and amplification” of Russian state media content.
      Big Tech cracks down on Russian state media content amid mounting pressure
      Netflix (NFLX) also said Monday it was refusing to air Russian state TV channels in the country — something that the streamer would have been required to do by Russian law starting this week.
      “Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” the company told CNN Business.
      Roku, a company that sells hardware which allows users to stream content through the internet, has also vowed to bar RT in Europe.
      YouTube, which is owned by Google, said over the weekend it had blocked Russian state media within Ukraine, including RT. The video platform also said that it would be “significantly limiting recommendations to these channels.”
      Google and YouTube have also said they will no longer allow Russian state media outlets to run ads or monetize their content.


      BP said Sunday it was planning to exit its 19.75% stake in Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, and their joint ventures — amounting to one of the biggest foreign investments in Russia.
      Equinor will also begin to exit its joint ventures in Russia, the Norwegian oil and gas company announced Monday.
      “We are all deeply troubled by the invasion of Ukraine, which represents a terrible setback for the world,” said CEO Anders Opedal.
      The company said it had $1.2 billion in long-term investments in Russia at the end of 2021. It has operated in Russia for more than 30 years and has a cooperation agreement with Rosneft.
      Exxon is quitting its last Russian project
      Exxon pledged Tuesday to leave its last remaining oil-and-gas project in Russia and not to invest in new developments in the country.
      The Sakhalin-1 venture is “one of the largest single international direct investments in Russia,” according to the project’s website. An Exxon subsidiary has a 30% share, while Rosneft also owns a stake.
      By quitting this project, Exxon would end more than a quarter-century of continuing business presence in Russia.
      Shell follows BP out of Russia as oil companies abandon Putin
      Shell is also getting out of Russia and ditching its joint ventures with Gazprom, including its involvement with the moribund Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.
      The UK-based oil company said Monday it would dump its stake in a liquified natural gas facility, its stake in a project to develop fields in western Siberia and its interest in an exploration project in the Gydan peninsula in northwestern Siberia.
      “We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression which threatens European security,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement.

      A Shell gas station seen in Moscow in 2020.

      TotalEnergies on Tuesday also condemned Russia’s actions and said it would no longer provide capital for new projects in the country.
      The French oil giant has done business in Russia for 25 years, and recently helped launch a major liquefied natural gas project on the Siberian coast.


      Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund will divest shares in 47 Russian companies as well as Russian government bonds, the Norwegian prime minister said on Sunday.
      Mastercard (MA) announced Monday that it had “blocked multiple financial institutions” from its network as a result of anti-Russian sanctions, and would “continue to work with regulators in the days ahead.”
      Visa (V) also said Tuesday that it was taking steps to comply with measures as they evolved.

      Media & entertainment

      DirecTV is cutting ties with RT, the Russia-backed television network infamous for promoting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda.
      A spokesperson for the US satellite carrier told CNN Business on Tuesday that it had already been reviewing whether to renew the outlet’s carriage agreement, which was due to expire later this year. Russia’s war on Ukraine sped up its decision, according to the representative.
      Disney is also suspending the release of its theatrical films in Russia, citing “the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
      The entertainment giant had multiple films set for release in Russia in the coming months. That includes Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” on May 5 and Pixar’s “Lightyear” on June 16.

      A shopper opening an umbrella featuring Disney Princesses at the Central Children's Store in Moscow's Lubyanka Square in 2017.

      “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation,” a Disney spokesperson said.
      'The Batman' pulled from Russia
      WarnerMedia said Monday that it would pause the release of “The Batman” in Russia.
      The film is anticipated to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, and will be released in most countries by Warner Bros., which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.
      A company spokesperson said that the decision was made “in light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” and that the company hoped “for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”


      Maersk and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company are both halting cargo bookings with Russia.
      “As the stability and safety of our operations is already being directly and indirectly impacted by sanctions, new Maersk bookings to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies,” the Denmark-based company said in a statement Tuesday.
      “We are deeply concerned by how the crisis keeps escalating in Ukraine,” the company added.

        MSC, a Swiss-owned container shipping line, said its own suspension started on Tuesday, and would include “all access areas, including Baltics, Black Sea and Far East Russia.”
        — Michelle Toh, Chris Isidore, Vanessa Yurkevich, Paul P. Murphy, Mark Thompson, Vasco Cotovio, Peter Valdes-Dapena, Frank Pallotta, Brian Fung, Oliver Darcy, Jordan Valinsky and Chris Liakos contributed to this report.
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