Taking shots at Russia: US citizens, pols, businesses join in

Russia At War

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

From purveyors of spirits to spirited businesses, US politicians and global leaders, many are taking whatever shots they can at Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian economy over actions in Ukraine. 

Some bars and liquor stores think they’ve found a potent way to punish Russia for invading Ukraine: They’re pulling Russian vodka off their shelves and promoting Ukrainian brands instead.

“I woke up yesterday morning, and I saw that Russia had invaded Ukraine. You wonder what you can do,’’ said Bob Quay, owner of Bob’s Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The U.S. obviously is putting on sanctions. I thought I would put on sanctions as well.’’

Only 1.2% of U.S. vodka imports come from Russia, according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. But that hasn’t stopped US governors from joining in on trying to hit the Russian economy. 

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed an executive order Saturday directing all New Hampshire liquor and wine outlets to remove Russian-made and Russian-branded spirits until further notice.

“New Hampshire stands with the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom,” he said on Twitter.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded to the Russian aggression with a tweet Saturday afternoon asking members of the Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Package Stores Association and Texas retailers to “voluntarily remove all Russian products from their shelves.”

The tweet goes on to say, “Texas stands with Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, tech industry titan Meta Platforms Inc, parent organization for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, is attempting to limit the Russian state media on social media. According to Reuters, the company said on Friday it is not allowing them to run ads or monetize on its platform anywhere in the world, the parent company of social media giant Facebook said on Friday.

“We also continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media,” its security policy head, Nathaniel Gleicher, said on Twitter. “These changes have already begun rolling out and will continue into the weekend.”

World leaders Thursday condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “barbaric” and quickly slapped heavy sanctions on the Russian economy, President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and many of the country’s oligarchs.

“Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” U.S. President Joe Biden declared.

In near-unison, the United States, the 27-nation European Union and other Western allies announced a round of punitive measures against Russian banks and leading companies and imposed export controls aimed at starving the country’s industries and military of semiconductors and other high-tech products.

From the U.S. to Western Europe and Japan, South Korea, and Australia, nations lined up to denounce the Kremlin as the outbreak of fighting raised fears about the shape of Europe to come. The invasion initially sent stocks slumping and oil prices surging on fears of higher costs for food and fuel.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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