Unilever will allow its Russian staff to join Putin’s forces if they are recruited amid mounting pressure to withdraw from the country while they wage war against Ukraine.
- The food giant, owner of Marmite and Cornetto, will comply with Russian law
- Unilever has been named as a sponsor of the war by the Ukrainian government
Unilever will allow Russian employees to be recruited should they be called up.
The food giant, which owns Marmite and Dove soap, said it was aware of Russian law that “requires any business operating in Russia to allow the recruitment of employees in case they are called up.”
And that it would comply with conscription law as it does ‘all the laws of the countries in which we operate’.
It comes as the company faces dueling pressure to withdraw from Russia while continuing to operate in the country.
In a letter to B4Ukraine, Reginaldo Ecclissato, Unilever’s director of business operations and supply chain, said “getting out is not easy.”
Ski-masked protesters hold banners outside Unilever’s London headquarters in March, demanding the company stop doing business in Russia.
He added: ‘We would like to reiterate that Unilever absolutely condemns the war in Ukraine as a senseless and brutal act of the Russian state and we continue to join the international community in calling for stability and peace in the region.
Unilever still sells its hugely popular Magnum and Cornetto ice cream brands in Russia.
‘As you have seen in our statement, maintaining our position in Russia is closely related to the responsibility we have towards our 3,000 employees.
‘We continue to run our business in Russia in accordance with our global principles, including the safety and well-being of our employees.
‘We are aware of the law that requires any company operating in Russia to allow the recruitment of employees in case they are called.
‘We always comply with all laws of the countries in which we operate.’
Earlier this year, the Ukrainian government named Unilever a sponsor of the war after it “increased its revenue and profits” since the full-scale invasion.
The company paid 3.8 billion rubles (£33 million) in taxes to the Russian state in 2022.
Mark Dixon, founder of the Moral Rating Agency, said: “A Cornetto ice cream seems innocuous until you realize that millions of them sold every day can quickly pay for a missile launch.”
“Similarly, a bar of Dove soap starts looking pretty dirty when enough are produced to buy a Russian tank.”
Unilever was contacted for comment.