POLITICS

Businesses Fear Retaliation From U.S. Sanctions Against Russia

A group of CEOs are meeting in Washington to discuss how further sanctions could hurt businesses with operations in Russia.
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With the U.S. and European Union considering tougher sanctions against Russia, American business leaders are concerned about potential retribution.

According to Bloomberg, officials from the U.S. and EU are planning to put financial pressure on Russia in response to president Vladimir Putin's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region. Meanwhile, 100 U.S. chief executive officers with the Business Roundtable, a public-policy advocacy group, will meet Wednesday with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Washington to speak about how further sanctions will affect their business in Russia, Bloomberg reports.

The U.S. and EU have already banned travel visas and frozen assets of Russian officials. John Engler, the Business Roundtable's president, said additional sanctions could result in retaliation by Russia against foreign companies.

"The CEOs are obviously very concerned about what is happening in Russia," Engler told Bloomberg. "For some companies, it's a substantial bit of their business. They are watching it very intently, trying to understand what will happen and what the next steps will be."

Vice President Biden, who was in Poland to discuss Ukraine with allies from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said more sanctions are to come, and that the U.S. and EU are "absolutely confident that we're up to the challenge" of confronting Russia, Bloomberg reports.

U.S.-based companies claim the largest source of foreign investment in Russia, especially in the financial services and technology sectors, a 2013 Ernst & Young report found. 

In an interview with Bloomberg, Norm Liu, CEO of General Electric's aircraft leasing unit, said his company has 54 airplanes in Russia and is hoping no further sanctions will be put in place.

"Hopefully the industry can weather it out, avoid heavy sanctions," Liu told Bloomberg. "This is a unique situation for all Western businesses."

But Yuriy Boykiv, a Ukrainian-born entrepreneur who owns New York-based global marketing agency Gravity Media, told Inc. that companies with operations in Russia should be in favor of sanctions.

"What American businesses should worry about is ... Russia has disregarded international law and annexed a sovereign state. It shows intent and belief of Russia that it can do anything while we all just watch," Boykiv wrote in an email. "Lack of strong sanctions at the moment would provide Putin with a signal that at any point in time he can do the same with Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, and Georgia, as well as other countries where Russian speakers live. This would mean war and then American businesses would have a much bigger problem."

Should companies support sanctions against Russia in spite of potential economic losses to their business? Let us know in the comments below.

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Mar 19, 2014

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a reporter at Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and politics at Patch.com, and his work has been published in Tablet Magazine and The Brooklyn Paper. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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