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Leave Russia? A Year Later Many Companies Can’t, or Won’t.


When Russia invaded Ukraine, a phalanx of Western companies pledged to get out fast from what had once been an important market. McDonald’s dismantled its golden arches after 32 years. The oil giant BP moved to divest its mammoth Russian investments. The French automaker Renault sold its factories for the symbolic sum of one ruble.But a year into the war, hundreds of Western businesses are still in Russia, including blue-chip and midsize companies from Europe and the United States. They are doing business despite Western sanctions and boisterous boycott campaigns pressed by Ukrainian officials, consumers and human rights groups.Some companies, facing accusations that they are helping finance Russia’s aggression, say they are staying because their customers need them. Among them is Auchan, one of France’s largest supermarket chains, which has kept its 230 stores in Russia open and says it intends to stay. The retailer has drawn the ire of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and recently faced fresh calls for a boycott after a report that Auchan’s Russian subsidiary supplied donated food to the country’s military.Auchan has denied …

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