Smirnoff vodka leaving Russia

The UK-based owner of popular alcohol brands says it will wind down all business operations within six months

UK-based alcoholic beverage producer Diageo is leaving Russia due to the Western sanctions pressure on Moscow over Ukraine, company representatives told the press on Tuesday.

We made a difficult decision to force a gradual reduction in commercial activity in [Russia],” a representative said, as cited by Interfax news agency.

The termination of Russian operations will take six months, the company noted, adding that all Russian employees will be compensated.

Diageo is one of the world’s largest alcohol producers and owns popular brands such as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Baileys, and Captain Morgan.

According to the company’s website, it supplies drinks to around 70,000 stores and 19,000 restaurants and bars across Russia.

Diageo stopped exporting its products to customers in Russia in March, shortly after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine. At the time, the company cited the “state of global supply chains,” which was destabilized by the Ukraine crisis, as grounds for the suspension of exports. Since March, the company has reportedly sold all of its Russian stocks.


READ MORE: Japanese automaker suspends production in Russia

Diageo started supplying alcohol to the Russian market in 2006, and began bottling whiskey under the Bells and White Horse brands at a distillery in St. Petersburg in 2020.

The Smirnoff brand began with a vodka distillery founded in Moscow by Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov in 1864. After fleeing Russia following the Revolution of 1917, the Smirnov family tried to establish the brand in several countries before settling in the US and eventually selling the company.

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