Making full use of economic options against Putin

The military options for the United States and NATO in Ukraine are complicated. But the economic options are not: all global companies should withdraw from Russia until it ends its unprovoked and inhumane invasion – and American consumers should actively boycott those who refuse.

Fortunately, refuseniks are easily identified on a real-time online list provided by a Yale professor. For those frustrated and feeling helpless over the heartbreaking images of Ukraine, this is a concrete way to help put pressure on Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin.

Seeing these images, it may be hard to accept that the United States and its allies have the firepower to stop the invasion, but won’t, because it could trigger an all-out nuclear war. Militarily, the Biden administration and NATO must continue this balancing act of offering Ukraine as much aid as possible without giving the potentially unstable Putin an excuse to pretend he is in war with the world – and react accordingly.

The fact that military options are so limited makes it all the more important to take full advantage of economic options. Already, sanctions by the United States and its partners targeting Russian exports and the banking system have caused factory closures, spikes in unemployment and interest rates, and a dramatic devaluation of the rouble.

It is tragic that ordinary Russians must feel the glare of global condemnation of their war criminal leader, but extreme economic malaise at home, possibly causing political upheaval, is the only realistic way to get to Putin. He can lie to his people about what is being done in his name in Ukraine, but he can’t hide empty store shelves and empty bank accounts very well.

Hundreds of global companies have heeded the call to pull out of Russia, but too many have yet to do so. The shopping list compiled by Yale’s Jeffrey Sonnenfeld has been remarkably effective in shaming some of the resisters. In fact, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board was shedding light on McDonald’s, Starbucks and Coca-Cola’s initial failure to leave when the companies suddenly announced they were pulling out, apparently in response. to national criticism sparked by Sonnenfeld’s List.

So, by all means, enjoy those Cokes, Frappuccinos, and Big Macs now. Other companies that have done the right thing and that American consumers encounter regularly include Airbnb, TJ Maxx, Burger King and Nike.

Because the list is so fluid, we’re hesitant to specify here which products to avoid (ahem, Koch Industries), lest they go from the “naughty” to the “nice” list overnight. Rather, readers should study the latest data for themselves. (It can be found by Googling “Jeffrey Sonnenfeld Russia list.”) Giving these companies the sting of rejection among American consumers may well be the only message they get.