“Sponsors of war” – top-10 international companies still operating in Russia in 2024

In 2024, during the 22 months of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, a large number of foreign companies refused to leave Russia and are still operating in the Russian market.

While many experts, governments, and Ukrainian people praised the historic courage of the 1,000+ global multinational corporations that fully exited Russia, hundreds of major multinationals will continue to do business in the aggressor country in 2024. By staying there, they are generating hundreds of billions of dollars for the Putin regime’s mass slaughter of Ukrainians in his war of aggression against a peaceful sovereign neighboring country.

As Russia’s full-scale war approaches its third year, something no one could imagine when Putin’s regime started it, we decided to explore the list of the biggest international companies staying in Russia and identify the top-10 list.

Various Ukrainian institutions collect this data, dubbing those who continue to work in Russia “international sponsors of war.” The Leave Russia NGO lists the staying companies, and Don’t Fund War created a dedicated directory for this tracking.

The companies that stay in Russia were named “international sponsors of war” by Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) for fueling Russia’s economy and its war campaign against Ukraine.

List of international companies still operating in Russia in January 2024

Although a large number of foreign companies halted their operations in Russia after the start of Russia’s all-out war against Ukraine, the data collected by the Kyiv School of Economics shows that there are more than 1,600 companies that stay.

Unilever, Nestlé, and Mondelez provided a variety of justifications for their prolonged involvement in Russia. International sanctions do not apply to these enterprises because they do not directly contribute to Russia’s war machine. According to Ukrainian officials, they might as well be: the taxes that these corporations pay into Russia’s coffers could be used to fund Putin’s invading army.

According to the Kyiv School of Economics, which hosts the most comprehensive tracker of international businesses operating in Russia, these companies contributed $25 billion to the Russian GDP in 2021 and paid $2.9 billion in taxes in 2022.

Only 304 of the nearly 1,500 foreign enterprises that hold or have assets in Russia have completed their leaving procedure. According to the KSE Institute, the potential value of these 300 companies’ transactions might reach US$25 billion as of December 2023.

According to the Kyiv School of Economics, which hosts the most comprehensive tracker of international businesses operating in Russia, these companies contributed $25 billion to the Russian GDP in 2021 and paid $2.9 billion in taxes in 2022.

Only 304 of the nearly 1,500 foreign enterprises who hold or have assets in Russia have completed their leaving procedure. According to the KSE Institute, the potential value of these 300 companies’ transactions might reach US$25 billion, as of December 2023.

According to Kyiv School of Economics calculations, the projected value of these ‘exits’ ranges from $16.7 billion to $21 billion. Furthermore, considering hidden transactions, the potential value may surpass US$25 billion, implying large sales discounts. Companies such as Heineken, Nissan, OBI Group, Renault, and Tetra Pak were sold for as little as EUR 1.

The Russian government effectively nationalized other companies, such as Carlsberg Group and Danone, at the same time, as emphasized by the KSE Institute.

Top-10 biggest international companies still operating in Russia in 2024

US companies have retained their leadership in the ranking of the biggest foreign companies in Russia, according to the Russian Forbes, despite the exodus of foreign businesses from Russia due to its war of aggression against Ukraine.

  1. Leroy Merlin. The French-headquartered home improvement and gardening retailer is still operating in Russia. $4 billion in revenue from Russia, owned by Association Familiale Mulliez.
  2. JT Group. The Japanese diversified tobacco company has promised to suspend investments, marketing, and the launch of new products. The company has not excluded the possibility of a suspension of its manufacturing operations in Russia. But it is still operating in Russia, with increasing revenue volumes in the years of war.
  3. Philip Morris International. The American multinational tobacco company promised to exit Russia in March 2022, claiming to transfer ownership. Philip Morris explicitly backtracked, with the CEO claiming that he cannot find any buyers and that the regulatory constraints are too problematic.
  4. PepsiCo. The American multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation announced the suspension of the sale of Pepsi-Cola, 7Up, and Mirinda (however, it replaced them with Evervess and Frustyle). PepsiCo continued to produce other products in Russia.
  5. Auchan. The giant French retail chain continues to operate in nearly 240 stores in Russia, employing thousands of people. Auchan appears to be doubling down by stepping into the vacated market shares of its erstwhile Western suppliers, who now refuse to sell into Russia, by filling many of its Russian stores with almost exclusively its own private-label products.
  6. Nestle. The Swiss consumer goods giant, the world’s largest food manufacturer, promised to sell only “essential” products into Russia, citing baby formula as an example, but the media reported that Nestle continues peddling pet foods, pralines, chocolate bars, and other products that are not essential.
  7. Alibaba. This huge Chinese e-commerce retailer continues to operate in Russia through its AliExpress joint venture, with ample sales into Russia and a freely accessible Russian website that continues to show fresh discounts.
  8. Unilever. Like other global consumer goods corporations, Unilever continues to sell consumer goods into Russia despite ample consumer boycotts under the guise of providing “essential” products. Cornetto ice cream does not seem to be essential for Russians.
  9. Mondelez. The American multinational confectionery, food, holding, beverage, and snack food company has promised time and time again to evolve the Russian business into a “stand-alone,” whatever this statement means. Yet it shows no tangible signs of progress towards exiting this market and continues to transact in Russia despite global boycotts of the corporation.
  10. Xiaomi. The Chinese cell phone giant initially sought to retreat from Russia post-invasion, as was widely reported, but then backtracked and stepped into the vacated footprints of their erstwhile Western rivals who left Russia. Xiaomi took their market share and built a dominant position in the Russian smartphone market.

Forbes prepared its yearly list of Russia’s 50 largest foreign corporations. According to the journal, the rating was revised by about half at the end of 2023, when 22 businesses were left out owing to the sale, suspension, or cessation of business in Russia.

The French home furnishings brand Leroy Merlin took first place. Although Chinese corporations have grown their representation in the ranking, the majority of companies are still from “unfriendly countries,” as Russian authorities refer to them, according to Forbes.

Tobacco makers JT Group of Japan and Philip Morris International of the United States ranked second and third, respectively. PepsiCo is fourth, and Auchan, a French retailer, is fifth.

List of companies marked as Sponsors of war

Alibaba Group Holding LimitedChinaVariousThrough AliExpress in Russia the company provides an international platform for the sale of foreign goods.
AuchanFranceRetailAccording to NACP, after the invasion of Ukraine, Auchan’s Russian subsidiary continued to pay taxes to the Russian budget, supply goods to the Russian military in the occupied Ukrainian territories under the guise of humanitarian aid and help Russian military offices recruit conscripts.
BacardiBermudaLiquorsThe company’s Russian division, Bacardi Rus’, paid more than 1.2 billion rubles (more than US$12 million) in income tax to the Russian budget.
Bolero GroupGeorgiaWinesIncreased exports of Georgian wine to Russia and dealings with sanctioned businessmen. Owner is a Russian citizen.
BonduelleFranceFoodAlthough the company stated it suspended all investment projects in Russia and decided to dedicate all profits from sales in Russia to the future reconstruction of Ukraine, it also announced its intention to continue operation in Russia.
Buzzi UnicemItalyConstructionBuzzi Unicem operates in Russia through SLK Cement LLC which cooperates with the Russian Ministry of Defense and supplies its products to major Russian state enterprises.
Camozzi GroupItalyAutomative solutionsContinuing activity in Russian-occupied Crimea.
China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CHOOC)ChinaOilArctic oil investment.
China National Petroleum CorporationChinaOilInvestment in Russia.
China Railway Construction CorporationChinaConstructionOperating in Russia for six years, in discussions to build tunnel to Crimea.
China State Construction Engineering CorporationChinaConstructionIn 2021 the company’s subsidiaries in Russia (Kitaystroy LLC and Chinastroy front LLC) paid 192.6 million and 8.5 million rubles in taxes, respectively. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine the company continued its cooperation with Russia.
CK Birla GroupIndiaTransport technologyNBC Bearings, a brand of National Engineering Industries Limited (NEI), itself part of the CK Birla Group, became an alternative to Western suppliers on Russian market. The share of the company’s imports to Russia amounted to US$12.3 million from April 2022 to March 2023.
Comnav Technology Ltd.ChinaNavigation and radar equipmentThe company supplies navigation and radar equipment for the Russian GLONASS system used by Russian and Iranian-made drones in the invasion of Ukraine. From February 24 to December 30, 2022, the company made 73 deliveries to Russia.
Dahua TechnologyChinaVideo surveillance equipmentThe United States imposed export controls on Dahua chips and the Federal Communications Commission listed the company among those whose products pose a threat to national security. The United Kingdom and Australia banned their public authorities from installing Dahua surveillance cameras.
DanieliItalyIndustrial equipmentAccording to NACP, the available information suggests that Danieli cooperates, directly or indirectly, with the Russian military industry enterprises and its customers.
Delta Tankers Ltd.GreeceOil tanker servicesWithdrawn from list after 11th package of EU sanctions, but would not publicly condemn Russian aggression, so reinstated to list.
DP WorldUnited Arab EmiratesLogisticsIn June 2023, DP World signed an agreement with the Russian state corporation Rosatom in the field of container transportation and the development of the Northern Sea Route.
DMG Mori AktiengesellschaftGermanyMachine toolsDMG Mori Rus LLC operates a machine tool plant in Ulyanovsk, Ulyanovsk Machine Tool Plant LLC.
Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd.GreeceOil tanker servicesWithdrawn from list after 11th package of EU sanctions, but would not publicly condemn Russian aggression, so reinstated to list.
eKassir OsaühingEstoniaPayment equipmentParent company of Russian Ekassir which facilitates operations of sanctioned Russian banks.
FluxysBelgiumGas operatorPromoting the export of Russian LNG.
Great Wall MotorChinaAutomotive industryAs of 2023, Russia is the Great Wall’s largest sales market outside of China.
HikvisionChinaVideo surveillance equipmentAccording to NACP, the revenue of the official Hikvision representative in Russia increased by 42% with the start of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, while net profit increased by 1526%.
Japan Tobacco InternationalSwitzerland / JapanTobacco industryWith a market share of 34.9%, JTI is regarded as the leader of the tobacco market in Russia. According to NACP, JTI contributed at least US$3.6 billion directly to the Russian budget.
Kerui GroupChinaOil and gas equipmentAfter Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kerui’s shipments to Russia increased 8.5 times. In the fall of 2022, the official representative of Kerui in Russia, Rus-KR LLC, and Gazprom signed a cooperation and strategic partnership agreement.
KnaufGermanyBuilding materialsThe German company actively promotes mobilisation in Russia by sending its employees to the war against Ukraine.
Leroy MerlinFranceHome improvementAccording to NACP, Leroy Merlin Vostok, the company’s enterprise in Russia, provides a high revenue part of the Russian budget and is a significant source of income for the Russian government.
Liberian International Ship & Corporate RegistryUnited StatesShip registration
Mars, IncorporatedUnited StatesMultinational confectionery, pet food, and other food productsContinuing operations in Russia.
Metro AGGermanyRetailThe company partnered with Russian Sberbank. The company’s sales in Russia grew to 2.9 billion euro in the fiscal year 2021/2022.
Mondelēz International, Inc.United StatesFoodAccording to NACP, in 2022 Mondelēz paid more than US$61 million in taxes to the Russian budget.
NestléSwitzerlandFood processingNestle is represented in the Russian Federation through Nestle Russia LLC. The company paid more than USD 25 million in profit taxes as of 2021. In April 2023, the management of Nestlé Russia LLC asked the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation to take the necessary measures to restrict public access to the results of operations and financial statements of the company’s subsidiaries.
OpenWay GroupBelgiumPayment servicesAfter the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, when Visa Inc. and Mastercard ceased operating in Russian banks of the region, OpenWay Group was engaged to develop an alternative payment system called Mir.
PepsiCoUnited StatesMultinational food, snack, and beverage corporationContinuing operations in Russia.
Philip Morris InternationalUnited StatesTobacco industryThe market share of Philip Morris International brands in Russia amounted to 30.1% in 2019. The total amount of income tax paid by Philip Morris International to the Russian budget in 2022 amounted to US$206 million. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Philip Morris announced its intention to sell its Russian business and exit the market, but has not done so.
Procter & GambleUnited StatesCosmeticsThe company has two factories operating in Russia – the Gillette razor manufacturing plant in Saint Petersburg and a toiletries manufacturing plant in Tula Oblast.
Rockwool InternationalDenmarkInsulationSelling products to Russian Ministry of Defence for use on warships.
SLBUnited StatesEnergy servicesIn the first half of 2022, the Russian market amounted to US$1.21 billion or 6% of the company’s turnover. According to NACP, the company is also facilitating the issuance of conscription notices and is banning remote work for Russians who avoid military draft.
Shandong Odes Industry Co., Ltd.ChinaAll-terrain vehiclesSupplying Russian army and paying $0.8m taxes in Russia.
SinopecChinaOil and gasPaying taxes in Russia.
Şişecam GroupTurkeyChemicals and glassThe company continues remains the largest exporter in its field to Russia.
SpinnerGermanyMachine toolsFrom February 24, 2022, to June 31, 2023, almost USD 15 million worth of SPINNER machines and components were imported to Russia.
UnileverUnited KingdomConsumer packaged goodsIn 2022 Unilever Rus LLC paid about US$50 million in taxes to the Russian budget, with factories in Omsk, Yekaterinburg, Saint Petersburg and Tula continuing to operate.
Xiaomi CorporationChinaConsumer electronicsThe company paid to the Russian budget US$2.5 million in taxes. In the third quarter of 2022 the company increased supplies to Russia by 39% compared to the previous quarter.
Yves RocherFranceCosmeticsIn 2022 Yves Rocher paid about US$6 million in taxes to the Russian budget. NACP regards Yves Rocher as “one of the most famous Western companies that refused to boycott Russia”.
Zhejiang Geely Holding GroupChinaAutomotive industryIn 2022 Geely Motors LLC paid more than US$51.4 million in taxes to the Russian budget. As of May 2023, official Geely dealers were represented in 89 Russian cities.
Data source: Wikipedia, as of January 1, 2024

International food companies still staying in Russia

Six major foreign food firms continue to do business in Russia under various guises and with diverse explanations. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Mars, and Danone have scaled back their operations but remain active in Russia. 

Mars, which manufactures a variety of sweets, as well as the animal feed, beverage, and snack manufacturer “Pepsico,” the candy and coffee manufacturer “Mondelez,” the canned goods company “Bonduelle,” and the world’s largest food manufacturer “Nestle,” with over 2000 different brands, remain in the aggressor country.

Retail corporations still operating in Russia

Metro AG, Globus, Auchan, and Leroy Merlin, the top four foreign retail brands in Russia, are all doing business as normal. Their income in the country was $14 billion last year. While the German store Globus has not justified its decision to remain in Russia, the other companies mostly justify their presence in Russia by caring for their Russian employees.

Tobacco companies still present in the Russian market

In 2021, the four international tobacco titans received $14 billion in revenue in Russia. So far, just two corporations have chosen to leave the belligerent country: British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands. 

Two other companies, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International, have ceased some activities but remain in the country. In Russia, the two remaining companies received 2.5 times more income than the two that withdrew.

Cleaning products and cosmetics manufacturers

In Russia, widely-known cosmetics producers such as “Yves Rocher,” “P&G,” and “Unilever” continue their operations. Although some of them stated they were considering leaving the Russian market, they stayed during almost two years of war.

International technology companies staying in Russia

Among the remaining technological companies in Russia are two Chinese behemoths: “Xiaomi” and “Albibaba,” better known as the online shop “Aliexpress.” Previously, Ukrainian officials stated that “Aliexpress” components are used to assemble Russian combat drones.

New companies added to the list of “Sponsors of war”

Despite the ongoing war, Ukraine’s National Agency for Corruption Prevention continues to update and expand the list of “Sponsors of War.” In November 2024, the National Agency for Corruption Prevention added the Belgian independent gas system operator Fluxys to the list of international supporters of war.

The rationale for this was because the corporation promotes the shipment of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG), which funds Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Fluxys, a Belgian independent gas system operator, stores and transports Russian liquefied natural gas to Yamal LNG at its Zeebrugge terminal.

The Russian gas corporation Novatek has the main stake in Yamal LNG and is actively involved in supporting military aggression and war crimes in Ukraine, the statement said.

New companies that left Russia

According to the Kyiv School of Economics, a number of international companies have finalized their exodus from Russia in 2023. Amedia, Bonava, Clancy Engineering, Eastnine AB, Flugger, Laude Smart Intermodal S.A. (possibly with an internal agreement, as the new owner is from Kazakhstan), and Sandvik (following the liquidation of the Sandvik Coromant group in May 2023).

The findings offer insight on the economic impact of foreign corporate withdrawals in Russia. As of December 2023, 302 international firms have terminated operations, accounting for 8.3% of the overall KSE database or 23.6% of enterprises making income in Russia in 2022.

However, 1,563 enterprises, or 43%, opted to stay in the Russian market without making any changes to their operations. Another 547 enterprises, or 15%, have chosen to postpone new investments and wait.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the international community imposed a series of sanctions against Moscow. While the international community has halted sanctions-related shipments to Russia, supplies to countries that continue to trade with Russia have rapidly increased. This has sparked concerns about sanctions evasion, which the European Commission intends to reduce with new measures.

Importance of leaving the Russian market during Russia’s war in Ukraine

Experts point out that after Putin ordered a mobilization in Russia, international corporations are obligated to assist the Kremlin’s military mobilization by assisting in the conscription of soldiers and their employees. According to B4Ukraine, a coalition of Ukrainian and international civic society organizations, they have at least 700,000 employees and $141 billion in assets in total.

According to the Kyiv School of Economics, 87% of multinational employees in Russia work for firms from ten countries: the United States, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Greece, China, and the Netherlands.

B4Ukraine and other NGOs working on the matter are pushing multinational corporations to leave Russia asap so that they do not become directly complicit in Russia’s horrific war, war crimes, and atrocities in Ukraine.

Staying in Russia means paying taxes to the Russian budget, knowing that these funds can go to finance the army and Putin’s war campaign. Fueling Russia’s all-out war against Ukraine means undermining the West’s support for Ukraine and increasing the danger that the Russian war can spread further to Europe.

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