- Sens. Chuck Schumer and Ron Wyden fired at Koch industries for continuing to do business in Russia.
- The pair said the company was “putting their profits ahead of defending democracy.”
- The company has defended its decision as the best way to protect its employees.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed Koch Industries on Thursday after the multinational giant confirmed that it will maintain its current business in Russia.
“Koch Industries is shamefully continuing to do business in Putin’s Russia and putting their profits ahead of defending democracy. The noxious stench of Trump still hangs over Koch Industries,” Schumer said in a joint statement with Sen. Ron Wyden, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
It comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeated his call on Wednesday for American companies to immediately leave Russia. “All American companies must leave their market immediately because it is flooded with our blood,” Zelenskyy said during his emotional address to Congress.
Koch Industries said on Wednesday that its Guardian Industries subsidiary would continue to operate two glass manufacturing companies in Russia that employ roughly 600 people. The company did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“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,” Koch President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson said in a statement.
Koch, one of the US’s largest privately-held companies, is led by Charles Koch. Koch, and his brother David before his death in 2019, organized and funded a vast network of political groups that undergirded conservative politics. The brothers did not particularly like Donald Trump, but Koch’s political network has lavished spending on stopping President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Congress has recently taken steps to help Ukraine fend off Russian aggression with $13.6 billion in emergency military and financial aid. They’re also inching towards revoking Russia’s trade relations with the US, opening the door to slap new tariffs on its goods. Schumer and Wyden threw their support behind revoking tax breaks for American firms still operating in Russia, signaling that legislation would be unveiled soon.
The Journal reported that the Kremlin has started to threaten Western companies, threatening to arrest any remaining local officials or seize the assets of businesses that are exiting the Russian market. Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed support for nationalizing the operations of some companies.
Major names like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, IBM, and others have shuttered their businesses in Russia in the wake of its war against Ukraine. Some companies like McDonald’s have made clear that they are only pausing operations, though it remains unclear how long the Russian military campaign will last.
Robertson said that Koch condemns Russia’s “horrific and abhorrent aggression” against Ukraine. He clarified that Koch is cooperating with any sanctions.