Russian vodka boycott goes global to punish Putin for invasion

At least three US governors ordered the removal of Russian-made or branded spirits from stores. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - An international boycott of Russian vodka is building from the United States to Australia as politicians and corporations signal their opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine by targeting one of his country's most iconic products.

At least three US governors ordered the removal of Russian-made or branded spirits from stores.

In New Zealand, one of the largest alcohol retail chains pulled thousands of bottles of vodka including the Ivanov and Russian Standard brands, and filled the empty shelves with Ukrainian flags.

Two of Australia's biggest liquor chains, Dan Murphy's and BWS, have stopped selling products of Russian origin, according to Sydney-based owner Endeavour Group, which has a market value of A$12.6 billion (S$12.4 billion).

The moves echo steps taken by global corporations from energy giants to automakers and law firms to cut ties with Russia or review their operations as governments impose sanctions on the country. Football authorities Fifa and Uefa have also banned Russian teams from competitions.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said on Twitter that the state "stands with the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom". Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox said the state "stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will not support Russian enterprises, no matter how small the exchange".

Describing Russia's attack on Ukraine as "an egregious violation of human rights", Mr Cox issued an executive order forcing the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to remove all Russian-produced and Russian-branded products from shelves immediately.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered the state's commerce department to boycott all vodka made by Russian Standard, also hitting sales of Green Mark Vodka.

There are about 6,400 bottles of vodka made by Russian Standard currently for sale in Ohio's 487 liquor agencies across the state, Mr DeWine said.

The steps may be largely symbolic. Vodka from Russia accounts for little more than 1 per cent of the total value of imports of the spirit into the US, according to data from the country's Distilled Spirits Council.

There is also scope for confusion with some of the best-known brands. Smirnoff, for instance, has roots in Moscow but is owned by British distiller Diageo and is made around the world, including in Illinois.

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