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Koch Industries: Leaving Russia Does More Harm to Ukraine and Western Principles Than Staying

Koch Industries says “The horrific and abhorrent aggression against Ukraine is an affront to humanity”:

It violates our company’s values and principles, which are grounded in the fundamental truth that the system most conducive to human wellbeing, progress, civility and peace is one based on respect for the dignity of the individual, the consistent rule of law and the right to freely exchange goods and services. Principles always matter, and they matter most when they are under pressure [Dave Robertson, president and COO, Koch Industries, press release, 2022.03.16].

Koch Industries says it is sending “financial assistance to employees and their families from Ukraine” and coordinating humanitarian aid. But they won’t shut down their two glass factories in Russia, because they’re afraid the Russians would take them over and start selling glass:

Koch company Guardian Industries operates two glass manufacturing facilities in Russia that employ about 600 people. We have no other physical assets in Russia, and outside of Guardian, employ 15 individuals in the country. While Guardian’s business in Russia is a very small part of Koch, we will not walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them (which is what The Wall Street Journal has reported they would do). Doing so would only put our employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good [Robertson, 2022.03.16].

Are we really to believe that heeding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s for a complete withdrawal of Western businesses from Russia would do more harm than good for Ukraine? Or is that just gilded spin on Koch Industries’ real motive, money?

This is an extraordinary public statement. Koch Industries is attempting to argue that continuing to operate in Russia is in the best interest of Ukraine and the Russian people. The company suggests that shuttering its massive glass manufacturing plants would benefit the Russian government. The implication is that the hundreds of companies that have left Russia are, in fact, empowering the Putin regime.

…This is a defining moment for Koch Industries, the largest privately-held company in the United States, and Charles Koch, one of the most influential figures in American politics. Jane Mayer, who wrote a book chronicling the Koch network, said that statement revealed that “all Koch’s talk of rights and liberty means nothing… making money is what they value” [Judd Legum, “Koch Industries Breaks Silence,” Popular Information, 2022.03.17].

If a company values individual rights, rule of law, and the free market, how long can it continue to do business in and with a community that explicitly and violently rejects those values?


  1. leslie 2022-03-18 07:17

    Koch. The third political party (c) Geo Mason Univ

  2. John 2022-03-18 08:35

    The US should sanction and seize the assets of companies doing business in Russia. Then use the assets for Ukrainian relief. Koch, Nestle, PapaJohns, etc.

  3. mike from iowa 2022-03-18 09:49

    14 minute video explains how “Big Awl” is using Ukraine invasion to maximize profits and how they are victims of US regulations that tie their hands.

  4. Caleb 2022-03-18 10:10

    Let’s consider helping more than just Ukrainians with whatever resources would ever be nationalized here. I for one would vote for nationalizing our entire oil industry.

    “The number of people forcibly displaced by war, persecution, general violence, or human-rights violations last year swelled to a staggering 84 million, according to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. If they formed their own country, it would be the 17th largest in the world, slightly bigger than Iran or Germany.”

    “This “nation” of the dispossessed is only expected to grow, according to a new report by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), an aid organization focused on displacement. Their forecast, which covers 26 high-risk countries, predicts that the number of displaced people will increase by almost three million this year and nearly four million in 2023. This means that, in the decade between 2014 and 2023, the displaced population on this planet will have almost doubled, growing by more than 35 million people. And that doesn’t even count most of the seven million-plus likely to be displaced by Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.”


  5. sx123 2022-03-18 11:07

    Maybe all US companies should leave China. Surely there are some human rights problems there to protest.

    Should US medical companies stop doing business in Russia? Maybe Koch industries in Russia makes life saving materials for the Russians and Ukrainians. Tread carefully here.

    The worldwide economy is a tangled web and sanctions can bring about unintended consequences to those not involved.

  6. cibvet 2022-03-18 11:31

    sx123 says” Maybe Koch industries in Russia makes life saving materials for the Russians and Ukrainians.” I would sooner
    believe the only thing that Russia shares with the Ukrainians are portable crematoriums or a backhoe to dig
    trenches to fill with bodies.. Koch industries like many US corporations are money grubbing stains on capitalistic values
    beholden only to greed and corruption, aka politicians and shareholders.

  7. John 2022-03-18 14:46

    I introduced readers to, Foundations of Geopolitics, 1997, used as a text in the Russian Academy of General Staff. Recall that Foundations is largely the blueprint for Russian hegemony of Europe: absorbing Ukraine, Finland, separating the UK from Europe (BREXIT), and puppet states from the Baltics to France.
    While Germany did recently increase its defense budget, its leaders are dithering on Ukraine’s entry to the EU and providing more assistance to Ukraine.
    Meanwhile . . . the Russian soldiers are not dithering, are not deterred. They boldly write, “On to Berlin” on their weapons.

    Consider the wise counsel of Rep Adam Kinzinger to CNN, youtube link 6 min, 17 Mar. Kinzinger reminds us that yes, the president has done a lot for Ukraine, but needs to do more. First, stop telegraphing what the US/west WON’T do; second, help Ukraine command and control its Ukrainian airspace – it’s not Russian airspace; third, set a redline – no white phosphorus, chemical, or tactical nuclear weapons. Kinzinger suggests that so far the US/west has only deterred it/themselves and not the Russians.

    Consider the dictator trap that Putin created for himself. Putin is now purging his government, as did Stalin before. Brian Klaas links the authoritarianism abroad and at home.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2022-03-18 16:06

    They have twisted themselves into a logic pretzel over doing business in Russia. They are only interested in an annual cash return . Patriotism is for fools. Courage is for losers. They know no borders and are loyal only to the company. They don’t let principles affect their actions. Cash is King.

  9. John 2022-03-18 19:35

    Oh the sweet, bitter siren song of right wing authoritarianism, as it appeals to the feeble-minded. (Hat-tip to Klaas, above.)
    Ukrainian farmers in occupied areas are being forced to provide food for Russians. Part of the Russian way of war hearkens to the 17th Century – foraging off the land. Foraging off the land really means stealing, robbing, and taking from the population. The Russian Army logistics are almost non-existent for other than ammunition and fuel.
    Russians are threatening farmers families, summoning farmers, or entering their farms. Sometimes the Russians abduct civilians.

    Our nation’s founders experienced this at the hands of the British Tories. The US “stopped” it with the 3d and 4th Amendments to the US Constitution.
    3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
    4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Ukrainian farmers are trying to accomplish heroic work. Farmers in the occupied territories are literally farming with guns pointed at them, or at their families. It’s planting season in a little more than a month. Fertilizer prices are up 500% according to a network of European farmers collaborating to help their colleagues. Fuel is in short supply. Russia’s Navy stopped up to 300 mostly grain ships from leaving the Black Sea. The World Food Program is preparing for food shortages in 2022-2023. Reconsider Seth Abramson’s article on March 10th — the US is in a global war.

  10. John 2022-03-23 19:31

    Here is new, longer oped on Dugin, author of Foundations of Geopolitics — the text in the Russian Academy of General Staff, the outline for Russian domination of Europe.

    I’ve faith in the Ukrainians. But little to none in the US/NATO/EU to stop Russia here – any more than they or their predecessors in interest stopped Germany at the Sudetenland, or Poland; or stopped the Japan at Manchuria or Nanking.

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