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?