While many Western companies are devising complicated maneuvers to maintain their operations in Russia and just 8.5% have fully divested, a recent poll by Morning Consult of Russian consumers casts doubt on the value of such strategies as sentiment becomes more nationalistic.
Russian consumers have become less eager to welcome foreign-owned businesses, more likely to favor tariffs on foreign goods and more likely to go out of their way to buy domestic products. They are also less willing to punish violations of foreign companies’ intellectual property rights, as evidenced by legal changes permitting the theft of such property from countries determined to be unfriendly toward Russia.
With the Kremlin’s anti-Western narrative having a measurable effect on consumer sentiment, multinationals hoping to profit off of a peace-play face ever-growing obstacles. Beyond the consumers themselves, military drafts have distorted labor markets, financial restrictions make operating capital difficult to come by, Western export restrictions make key inputs harder to come by and the Kremlin has accelerated its interventions in the private sector from supply chains to merger approvals. While multinationals look likely to hold out hope for now, the Russian economy has seen decades of technological, financial, and societal developments erased.