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Corporate Retreat from Russia

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine there has been a growing number of Western firms pulling, or scaling back, their operations from Russia. Over the last few weeks: Microsoft, Apple, H&M and IKEA have all suspended their operations in Russia. On Monday (7th March 2022), Sky News are reporting that PwC will be cutting their Russian firm adrift which will be considered the most significant exit of any multinational company so far- with 3,700 staff impacted. Additionally, companies such as Burberry and Jaguar Land Rover have decided to halt all exports of their products. Furthermore, UK supermarkets and pubs (such as Sainsbury’s, the Co-Op and Wetherspoons pubs) have also stopped selling Russian products such as vodka.

However, on the other hand there are questions being raised about the impact of sanctions upon Russia that are impacting the West. The UK was already facing an energy crisis and was anticipating an extra £693 increase per household for energy prior to the invasion. As of now, the cost of fuel at petrol stations has risen dramatically to around 170 pence per litre in the countryside and on motorways- compared to 123.7 pence per litre a year ago. Finally, international universities have been financially benefitting from Russian funding and research but this is being cut during the current worldwide boycotts.

Newspapers & COVID

The UK’s front page news cycle this week continues to be dominated with the ongoing invasion of Ukraine with one newspaper alone, the Daily Mail, raising £3.6m to help Ukraine. Furthermore, HRH Prince Charles has publicly warned of the ‘terrible’ Russian aggression and has joined the Royal Family in donating to the newly formed Disasters Emergency Committee to contribute to the total £55m raised so far. Some of the headlines of the Sunday papers read:

  • The Mail on Sunday: Boris’s 6-Point Plan to Defeat Putin
  • The Sunday Times: Merciless Putin shells evacuees
  • The Sunday Telegraph: Don’t test us, Wallace (Secretary of Defence) tells Putin
  • Sunday Express: Truss (Foreign Secretary): This is Struggle of Our Generation
  • The Observer: Defiant Putin warns the west: your sanctions are akin to an act of war

COVID cases in the UK now total 19.19m (up from 18.80m last week) over the course of the pandemic with daily totals now around 20,000- compared to around 200,000 per day at the start of 2022. Concern towards COVID has now also been vastly reduced from approximately 80% of the public being “very worried” in January about COVID to the latest figure lying at 41%. Britain has inoculated 52.65m people, with 49.06m receiving a second vaccine and a final 38.31m have taken a booster dose- this totals 140.03m vaccinations delivered across the country.

UK and Ukraine

The PM, Johnson, has warned of “even darker days ahead” in a recent piece for the New York Times after stating that Western nations have “failed to learn from the lessons of Russian behaviour”. The UK Government has now also publicly launched a six point plan of action for the international community to ensure “Putin fails in his ambitions”. The steps are:

1.Mobilise an international humanitarian coalition for Ukraine

2.Support Ukraine in its efforts to provide for its own self-defence

3.Maximise the economic pressure on Putin’s regime

4.Prevent the creeping normalisation of what Russia is doing in Ukraine

5.Pursue diplomatic paths to de-escalation but only on the basis of full participation by the legitimate government of Ukraine

6.Begin a rapid campaign to strengthen security and resilience across the Euro-Atlantic area

The UK is continuing to act with increasing caution towards Russia and the Foreign Office has warned that all UK nationals should leave Russia. Moreover, the Government will on Monday (7th March 2022) vote on a new wave of sanctions on Russia which may be in place for the foreseeable future given the Deputy PM’s (Raab’s) warning that the war could last “months if not years”. Overall, the UK considers the current measures to be the “largest sanctions package in history”.

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