They have come under fire.
Calls to boycott Coca-Cola have gained momentum, as the billion-dollar corporation has refused to exit Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Following what many believe is a signal by the company that they would not be withdrawing from the Russian market, calls to boycott Coca-Cola reached a fever pitch.
Three Ukrainian supermarket chains announced they would be removing Coca-Cola products from their shelves, and #BoycottCocaCola reached the number one trending spot on Twitter by Friday afternoon.
The renewed interest to boycott the multinational company comes after reports circulated that a spokesperson for Coca-Cola’s exclusive bottler in Russia told Russia’s state-owned news agency that business operations in the country would continue.
According to the Kyiv Independent, local supermarket chain Novus commented that the reason for removing the beverage company’s products from its shelf was because Coca-Cola continued “to work for the invaders in full strength,” calling the company “shameless.”
Late on Thursday (March 3), TASS, a Russian state-owned news agency, reported that the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, a bottling company with exclusive rights to distribute Coca-Cola products in 29 countries, including Russia, would not stop operations in Russia.
The spokesperson told TASS, “All operational, production and logistics facilities of Coca-Cola in Russia are working. We are fully responsible to partners, society, and thousands of our employees in Russia. Our top priority is the safety of our employees.”
Many U.S. critics were appalled by Coca-Cola’s decision to remain in Russia and their response to Russia’s Ukraine invasion. Critics noted that the beverage company repeatedly failed to censure Russia or Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite offering financial aid for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Some of these critics also contrasted the company’s response to Russia with its response to the U.S. state of Georgia in March 2021.
The beverage company forcefully condemned the state, after governor Brian Kemp signed voting reform legislation into law.
At the time, the CEO of Coca-Cola, James Quincy, went on national TV to reprimand Kemp, calling the legislation “unacceptable” and a “step backward.”
The CEO then stated, “this legislation is wrong and needs to be remedied, and we will continue to advocate for it both in private and … even more clearly in public.”
European companies operating in Russia have suspended their operations following Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. One of the largest to withdraw from the country was the British energy company BP, which happens to be Russia’s largest foreign investor.
The move by BP could see the company lose as much as $25 billion.