JCB has become the latest company to suspend its business in Russia as the stampede following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine intensified.
The manufacturing group, led by Lord Bamford, the chairman and Conservative Party donor, has “paused all operations, including the export of machines and spare parts”.
Bamford, 76, criticised Western sanctions against Russia in 2014 in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine.
He had said at the time that Russia has been a “very important” market for JCB for more than 30 years.
However, companies across the world, including large British businesses, are now cutting ties with Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions launched in response by the West.
Exxon Mobil said today it would exit Russian oil and gas operations that it has valued at more than $4 billion and halt new investment, saying “we deplore Russia’s military action that violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine and endangers its people”.
The US multinational energy company will pull out of managing large oil and gas production facilities on Sakhalin island in Russia’s far east, putting the future of a proposed multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas facility in doubt.
Meanwhile, Trafigura, the global commodities trader, has frozen its investments in Russia and is reviewing options for its passive shareholding in Vostok Oil, one of Russia’s biggest oil projects.
Ford is suspending its joint-venture operations in Russia, citing concern over the invasion of Ukraine and saying that “while we don’t have significant operations in Ukraine, we do have a strong contingent of Ukrainian nationals working for Ford around the world”.
Asos, the online fashion retailer, said it too had suspended operations in Russia as it “is neither practical nor right to continue to trade in Russia”.
Burberry said that “due to operational challenges … we have paused all shipments to Russia until further notice”. The British luxury brand has two directly operated stores and one concession in Russia, with about 50 employees.
It stopped short of condemning the invasion. Global luxury fashion brands have been accused of staying silent about the Ukraine invasion after years of courting wealthy Russian shoppers.
The latest companies to take action are following the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Diageo, Apple, Boeing, BP, Shell and KPMG.
JCB is a member of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, which has now also suspended its role.
Roger Munnings, the chamber’s chairman, who was awarded the order of friendship last year by President Putin, said its role had been to “facilitate and support legitimate trade and investment between the UK and Russia with the support of the governments of both countries”, but this activity would now be frozen following the Russian invasion.
The chamber’s honorary presidents are Deborah Bronnert, Britain’s ambassador to Russia, and Andrei Kelin, her counterpart. The chamber’s patron is Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s cousin. The board also includes executives of EY and BP in Russia.