The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked global backlash among businesses in all sectors, with more than 300 major corporations suspending operations in the country thus far. As one brand name after another exits the market, the world’s largest online retailer has finally followed suit, as well as another e-commerce giant and two of today’s biggest footwear brands.
Skechers announced it would suspend operations in Russia on Wednesday, and donate $250,000 in humanitarian aid to organizations on the ground in Ukraine and Poland. The footwear company is also matching its employee donations, pledging up to an additional $250,000 in support.
“We have deep concern for Ukraine and its citizens, who are doing all they can to defend their country and survive while under siege. And while our team in Ukraine is currently safe, this has been a heartbreaking time for them, their families and neighbors,” said Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers in a statement. “We’ve been moved by the Skechers community, who has reached out with an outpouring of support and has asked how we could collectively help. This inspired us to potentially double our donation through CORE, an organization whom we worked with last year in Haiti. We will do all we can for the humanitarian efforts that are taking place throughout the region and join the world in hoping for peace.”
Skechers has already donated to Tikva Children’s Home, a partner organization that provides aid and education to Jewish children in Odessa, Ukraine. The footwear brand is now looking into additional contributions of shoes and socks to further support Ukraine’s 2 million citizens and refugees.
The Poland-based CORE is providing emergency assistance to Ukrainian refugees who have crossed the Ukraine-Poland border. The crisis response organization is distributing kits with essential hygiene items, thermal blankets, and other critical resources, and is also supporting community-based refugee centers by providing them with supplies and institutional aid to support the overwhelming influx of individuals fleeing the war.
Following the Skechers decision, Crocs revealed it would pause its direct-to-consumer business, which includes its e-commerce and retail operations, in Russia. The clog manufacturer has also paused the importation of goods into the country, and has already taken down its Russian website.
All corporate and retail staff in the country will continue to receive pay during this pause.
Through the Crocs Cares program, the trendsetter has donated to longstanding global partner UNICEF to support the foundation’s on-the-ground humanitarian efforts. with a specific focus on addressing the needs of displaced children and families throughout the region.
“Comfort is needed now more than ever and we’re pleased to make a donation to UNICEF to support those directly impacted by the war. Additionally, as a People Purposed organization, taking care of our employees remains a top priority,” said Crocs CEO Andrew Rees in a statement. “While our decision to pause all business operations in Russia was decisive, our commitment to doing the right thing is unwavering. Our hearts are with all those enduring this crisis and we hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the war in Ukraine.”
Amazon is halting shipments to Russia and Belarus, and will no longer be accepting new third-party sellers from either country, the company said in a blog post.
The Big Tech firm also is applying these suspensions to its non-retail businesses, namely its cash cow cloud provider Amazon Web Services (AWS), which will stop accepting new customers in Russia and Belarus.
In the blog post, Amazon was quick to point out that the company itself and AWS have no data centers, infrastructure or offices in Russia, with the tech titan having “a longstanding policy of not doing business with the Russian government.” The biggest AWS customers in Russia are companies who are headquartered outside of the country and have some development teams there, Amazon said in the blog.
Amazon also doesn’t have direct operations in Ukraine, but AWS has been working closely with Ukrainian customers and partners for several weeks to keep their applications secure to protect them from potential cyberattacks.
Additionally, Amazon will halt access to Prime Video for Russian consumers, and will no longer take orders for New World, the only video game the company sells directly in the market.
Prior to the mass exodus of brands, Amazon unveiled it was donating $5 million to organizations that are providing humanitarian relief to Ukrainian citizens, including UNICEF, UNHCR, World Food Program, Red Cross, Polska Akcja Humanitarna, and Save the Children.
Amazon also is donating matching up to $5 million in employee donations, with more than 10,000 workers already having donated. The company said that “tens of thousands” of customers worldwide have made donations via homepages via Amazon.com.
In the wake of the conflict, Amazon gave employees in Poland additional time off, and said it is working with Ukrainian nationals to expedite immigration work visas if they’ve relocated.
According to a report from the Yale School of Management, which has been tracking the corporate withdrawals from Russia, over 320 companies worldwide have curtailed operations in the country on some level as of March 9. Yale University professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his research team at the Ivy League school’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute compiled the report.
Shopify is joining Amazon in temporarily suspending operations in Russia and Belarus.
The Canadian e-commerce giant said in a post that it will continue to monitor events on the ground as they evolve and comply with applicable sanctions as they are announced. For the foreseeable future, Shopify also confirmed it would not collect fees from Ukrainian merchants and partners.
The firm will not be accepting new merchant signups in Russia and Belarus, and its checkout functionality will be disabled for existing merchants in both countries.
“Over the past two weeks, the world has witnessed profound tragedy. Like so many, we have been deeply unsettled by the unprovoked attacks and ongoing war in Ukraine,” a post on the website said. “We will continue to monitor events on the ground as they evolve and comply with applicable sanctions as they are announced.”
Shopify is also teaming with digital freight forwarder Flexport to support Ukrainian refugees, contributing an undisclosed number of funds to provide humanitarian aid. The tech provider, which operates the online websites for apparel brands including Allbirds, Gymshark and Figs, will also match employee donations supporting this relief effort.
Flexport is partnering with the United Nations to send over two cargo planes filled with relief supplies for refugees—the first cargo plane paid for by the company, with the second bankrolled by CEO Ryan Petersen. Shipments are being sent using grounded cargo and passenger planes. Flexport’s system is managing the logistics process, and is currently being used to help coordinate airlines, trucking, warehouses and customs.
Could nationalization plague foreign-owned factories?
Global fashion brands that operate factories in Russia may be in for another headache going forward as the conflict escalates. A senior member of Yedinaya Rossiya, Russia’s ruling party, has proposed nationalizing foreign-owned factories that shut down operations in the country when major brands pulled out.
Adidas and Ikea are among global retailers that have already announced temporary shutdowns of factories in Russia, alongside shuttering their stores, in order to put pressure on the Kremlin.
In a statement published on Monday on the Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia) website, the secretary of the party’s general council Andrei Turchak said nationalization was an “extreme measure,” but that the measures are retaliatory against the “real war” against the citizens of Russia.