Russia: where will exodus of Western firms lead?
Hundreds of Western companies have suspended their Russian business operations or announced their withdrawal in response to the Russian attack on Ukraine. The Kremlin initially reacted by threatening to punish such companies or to expropriate and nationalise them but has now adopted a more conciliatory tone. Commentators take very different views of the consequences of the withdrawal of Western companies from Russia.
Safeguard common interests
Radio Kommersant FM is pleased that after the harsh threats of the past few days more conciliatory tones are now coming from the Kremlin:
“The wind has changed noticeably: ... There is still something like common sense. After all, tens of thousands of jobs on one side and billions in losses on the other are at stake - in other words, common interests. ... Of course, things could turn out differently, but for now we are seeing that there is a will 'on high' to preserve civilised rules of the game. It would be preferable if this approach prevailed not just in the economy. Even though it's clear that there is an irresistible urge to come down hard on the representatives of a hostile West.”
Market gaps are easily closed
The departing companies are harming their own interests more than the Russian state, says Izvestia:
“Experience shows: whenever a Western brand leaves, another one takes its place that is no worse (if not better). That's the way the market works. If you take into account that Western countries have long since stopped trading in goods (mainly from Asia) and now trade only in brands, the situation becomes completely absurd. The current sanctions are impressive in terms of their scope and their rashness: clearly it is above all the Western companies that are suffering. ... One example: Visa and Mastercard are no longer cooperating with Russian banks. Their place is quickly being taken by China's UnionPay.”
Back to imitating Western goods?
Webcafé doubts that the Russian state would be able to maintain quality standards after expropriating Western companies, and comments with an ironic undertone:
“Large international companies were producing in Russia until recently, so what's stopping the Russians from continuing production in their place? The only difference would be that it would be new Russian brands coming off the assembly line. Just like the Soviet computers in the old days, which were supposed to resemble IBM but of course didn't quite succeed. What's to stop the Russians from reviving this tradition and usurping formerly Western goods in good old Soviet style? After all, we're talking about the country that invented the fashionable combination of tracksuit, leather shoes and flat cap.”