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#BoycottCocaCola: Public pressure mounts on Coca-Cola over refusal to exit Russia after Ukraine invasion

Calls are growing for people to boycott Coca-Cola as they have yet to pull operations out of Russia despite Putin’s invasion of Ukraine entering its twelfth day.

Trends on Twitter including #BoycottCocaCola surfaced over the weekend as it emerged the company, which has 10 bottling plants in Russia, is not making any changes to operations following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden was among the virtual horde of social media users calling for people to boycott the global drinks giant over its inaction.

The distribution company in Russia told Tass – a Russian news agency – that operations were continuing as normal but Coca-Cola has remained silent on the issue.

Three Ukrainian supermarket chains have since announced they are removing Coca-Cola products from their shelves and the company is coming under increased pressure to sever ties with Russia.

Since Moscow ordered forces to invade Ukraine, a number of international brands, including tech firms and fashion labels, have ceased trading in Russia amid a ‘Great Cancellation’ of Vladimir Putin.

This includes firms such as Samsung, PayPal, Mastercard and Visa as well as high street brands such as Zara, Under Armour and Ikea which have all sought to take a stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In total more than £100 billion of trade ties have already been severed with the increasingly isolated nation, with no sign the ever-largening embargo is set to lose momentum.

High profile Russians, including Putin himself and his inner circle, have been subject to personal financial sanctions across much of Europe and the United States.

But everyday citizens are now feeling the pinch too, with multinational firms abandoning the increasing isolated national and the Russian rouble slumps to record lows against the dollar.

But despite public pressure to follow suit, several global brands have stayed silent on the issue including Coca Cola, Pepsi and McDonalds.

On Friday, Ukrainian supermarket chain Novus said it would stop selling Coca-Cola products – including Coca-Cola, Fanta, Schweppes and BonAqua mineral water – and slammed the company as ‘shameless’ for continuing to “work for the invaders in full strength.”

In a post on the company’s Facebook page, it said: “Our supermarket chain no longer cooperates with the Coca-Cola company, which continues to operate in the territory of the aggressor. We are abandoning all products belonging to the brand.”

Supermarket chain Fozzy Group also said it was pulling products from shelves and stopping all future deliveries.

The company said in a statement: “From today, we are removing all products from the shelves of Silpo, Fora, FOZZY Cash&Carry, Market super Thrash (Thrash) stores and stop all future deliveries.”

Varus also joined in the boycott, citing the “official position of the Coca-Cola company to continue its activities in the market of the aggressor country.”

In a statement, the company said: “It’s official!! ️ Supermarket chain VARUS withdraws from sales all Coca-Cola products!”

We made such a decision in light of Coca-Cola’s official position to continue operating in the market of the aggressor country.

“So today we begin to remove VARUS products from the shelves of Coca-Cola, namely: Coca-cola soda, Cola-Cola Zero, Sprite, Fanta, Schweppes, BonAqua mineral water, FuzeTea cold tea, Rich juices, energy drinks Monster Energy Dri nk and the Burn.

“We urge other networks to join the boycott.”

Public figures and social media users have also piled on pressure for the companies to act.

New York state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the chief of New York state’s pension fund, singled out McDonald’s and Pepsi in a letter shared on Friday.

DiNapoli said companies “need to consider whether doing business in Russia is worth the risk during this extraordinarily volatile time.”

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“Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and its highly unpredictable foreign policy are a threat to the global economy.

“We’re encouraging the companies we invest in to do a risk analysis and determine what is in the best interests of their company and their shareholders,” he said.

Pausing or ending operations in Russia “would address various investment risks associated with the Russian market and play an important role in condemning Russia’s role in fundamentally undermining the international order that is vital to a strong and healthy global economy,” the letter said.

In the UK, British politician John Mann tweeted: “If Mcdonalds and Starbucks continue to sell in Russia then an international boycott of their products should he instigated.”

Meanwhile, Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden added: ‘Can you stop drinking Coca Cola please.

“They are refusing to withdraw from Russia. Let’s show them some people power.”

As a business, Coca-Cola owns more than 500 brands including Costa Coffee, vitaminwater and Schweppes.

The pressure came after Russian news agency Tass reported that the company would continue to operate as normal in Russia.

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company AG, the Swiss-based company which distributes Coca-Cola products in Russia, told the outlet: “All operational, production, and logistics facilities of Coca-Cola in Russia are working.

“We are fully responsible to partners, society, and thousands of our employees in Russia. Our top priority is the safety of our employees.”

The company gets about 21 percent of its volume from Russia and Ukraine and has shut down operations in Ukraine and sent staff home, it said in a statement last month.

It said in a statement shared last week that it had since resumed operations in areas of the country that are not directly impacted and added that they are donating one million euros to the Red Cross operating in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, McDonalds and Pepsi have yet to comment on their operations in Russia.

According to their website, McDonalds has 847 restaurants in Russia with the country accounting for around 9 percent of its total revenues.

Russia made up around 4 percent of PepsiCo’s global revenues last year, the company said.

It comes after card payment giants Visa and Mastercard became the latest major firms to announce they will suspend operations in Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Mastercard said that “noting the unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment,” it had “decided to suspend our network services in Russia.’

Visa, for its part, said that ‘effective immediately’ it would ‘work with its clients and partners within Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the coming days.”

Visa cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia will no longer work in Russia, the company said in a statement.

Their announcement came after several major tech companies and retailers shut down their operations in Russia amid a ‘Great Cancellation’ of Vladimir Putin.

Samsung Electronics suspended shipments to Russia over ‘geopolitical developments’, the firm said on Saturday.

The South Korean tech giant is the world’s biggest memory chip maker and the leading smartphone seller in Russia.

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