Western Union, Goldman Sachs, & Others Immediately Pull Out Of Russia

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Large companies are continuing to announce withdrawals from the Russian marketplace in connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians there and inflicted catastrophic levels of damage on the country’s infrastructure, making any sense of security once the war ends even more difficult to obtain. Some of the latest companies to announce that they’re exiting Russia include the investment bank Goldman Sachs, the money transfer company Western Union, and The Walt Disney Company, the last of which had previously announced that theatrical releases of its movies would be halted in Russia but is now taking more expansive steps.

As Goldman Sachs explained their move, “Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements… We are focused on supporting our clients across the globe in managing or closing out pre-existing obligations in the market and ensuring the well-being of our people.” As explained by Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs is, however, “still trading corporate debt tied to the country without the bank itself making wagers on price movements, a representative said.”

As for Western Union — which is also suspending its services in Belarus, whose leader Alexander Lukashenko has supported Putin in this war, the company echoed the corporate push to protect the interests of employees while withdrawing from Putin’s Russia. As they explained their decision, “All of us share the shock, disbelief, and sadness around this tragedy and humanitarian disaster. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine and to our colleagues, customers, agents, and partners who have been impacted… We also have engaged in extensive dialogue with a wide variety of stakeholders in an earnest effort to arrive at the right decision regarding our services in Russia and Belarus. We have thoroughly evaluated internal and external considerations, including the consequences for our valued teammates, partners, and customers. Ultimately, in light of the ongoing tragic impact of Russia’s prolonged assault on Ukraine, we have arrived at the decision to suspend our operations in Russia and Belarus.” They said that their “priorities remain the well-being and safety of our employees as well as continuing to support the people of Ukraine.”

Disney, meanwhile, shared the following: “Given the unrelenting assault on Ukraine and the escalating humanitarian crisis, we are taking steps to pause all other businesses in Russia [besides theatrical releases of films]. This includes content and product licensing, Disney Cruise Line activities, National Geographic magazine and tours, local content productions and linear channels. Some of those business activities we can and will pause immediately. Others—such as linear channels and some content and product licensing—will take time given contractual complexities.” The company added that they “remain committed to our dedicated colleagues in Russia, who will remain employed” and “continue to work with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other much-needed assistance to refugees.”

The Russian economy has been buckling under the weight of the worldwide push to hold Putin’s regime economically accountable for the violence in Ukraine. The value of Russian currency has taken a free-fall, and the Moscow stock exchange has been closed for some two weeks. Targets of the sanctions imposed on Russia from around the world — making Russia the most-sanctioned nation on the planet — have included financing for the military and wealthy individuals with ties to Putin. Certain assets connected to these individuals have been subjected to government seizures; the French government took control of a 280-foot yacht tied to Russian oligarch Igor Sechin after it was caught in an attempt to get out of French territory, for instance.