Major clothing brand explains why it’s staying in Russia

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Companies choosing not to leave the Russian market amid the ongoing offensive in Ukraine are facing backlash

Leading Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo will continue to operate in Russia. The owner says Russians have “the same right to live” as other people, as dozens of other international companies are rushing to leave the country in protest over its offensive on Ukraine.

Clothing is a necessity of life. The people of Russia have the same right to live as we do,” Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of Uniqlo parent company Fast Retailing Co., said in a statement published by Nikkei newspaper.

Yanai said that while he opposes the Russian attack on Ukraine and there “should never be a war,” all Uniqlo stores will continue to work in Russia. He added that “any attempt to divide the world will, on the contrary, strengthen unity.”

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A cheese spread packaging unit at the Valio plant in Odintsovo District, Moscow Region. © Sputnik / Anton Denisov
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Uniqlo is not the only company resisting the exodus from Russia. On March 3, Coca-Cola told TASS that “all operational, production, and logistics facilities of Coca-Cola in Russia are working.”

“We are fully responsible to our partners, society and thousands of our employees in Russia. Our absolute priority is the safety of our employees,” the company’s representative told the news agency.

Coca-Cola issued a statement on the same day saying “war is never the solution” and announcing a €1 million donation to support Red Cross operations in Ukraine, in addition to funds for Red Cross organizations in the neighboring nations of Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland.

Despite its efforts, three Ukrainian supermarket chains have removed Coca-Cola products from their shelves.

Our supermarket chain is no longer cooperating with Coca-Cola, which continues to work in the aggressor’s territory! From now on in NOVUS stores you will not see any Coca-Cola brand product,” Novus supermarket chain announced on March 4.

Supermarket chains Fozzy Group and Varus made similar announcements.

Calls to boycott Coca-Cola have since grown on social media, with many also expressing anger at PepsiCo and McDonald’s, which have so far not responded to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

Russia argues that its “military operation” in Ukraine was necessary in order to “demilitarize” the country, to protect the Donbass republics, and to defend Russia’s own security amid NATO’s eastward expansion. The West condemned the attack and imposed harsh sanctions on Moscow, with dozens of major brands quickly deciding to exit the Russian market in protest.

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