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Many companies have decided it's almost impossible to do business in Russia


Russia's assault on Ukraine and resulting sanctions are the reason many international companies are leaving Russia. Here's NPR's David Gura.

DAVID GURA, BYLINE: The U.S. and its allies are twisting a vise on Russia's economy, restricting access to currency reserves and kicking banks out of SWIFT, a global network financial firms use to conduct transactions. The value of the ruble has plummeted more than 20% against the dollar, and many big companies have decided it's all but impossible to do business in Russia.

DAN TANNENBAUM: They just don't feel the risk is worth it anymore.

GURA: Dan Tannenbaum is the global head of sanctions at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman. What started with an announcement from BP - that it plans to unwind a 20% stake in a Russian oil company - has led to what seems like a torrent in the days that have followed. Exxon plans to end a big project off Russia's coast. Volvo says it won't deliver any cars to the Russian market until further notice. Harley-Davidson has stopped shipments of its bikes to the country, and Apple has stopped selling its iPhones and other products in Russia.

TANNENBAUM: I do think you're going to continue to see more businesses voting with their feet and not necessarily leave the market because of being kind of good corporate citizens and standing with Ukraine, leaving the market because the risk just isn't worth the reward, above all else.

GURA: It's onerous and expensive. And on top of that, it's a bad look. Roberto Gonzalez is a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss. He says companies are therefore deciding the time to take action is now to get ahead of more sanctions and scrutiny.

ROBERTO GONZALEZ: Companies have an opportunity to pull back now. You know, they might take it just to sort of decrease the commercial and reputational risks of having to take action later.

GURA: Gonzalez says he expects more companies could leave and the U.S. and its allies could continue to tighten that vise. But some of them have done the calculation, and they're wary of walking away from what's a pretty sizable consumer market. Russia is home to 144 million people. WeWork is one company. Its CEO says it doesn't plan to close its four locations in Moscow, even though they account for just a small fraction of the company's overall revenue. David Gura, NPR News, New York.


David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.