Nestlé Pares Down Operations in Russia Amid Pressure for Companies to Cut Ties
The company said it will only produce essential food items in Russia, where the market composes just 2% of its global revenue.
Nestlé Scales Back in Russia
Swiss food company Nestlé announced Wednesday that it will be further restricting operations in Russia amid widespread backlash over its refusal to pull out of the country as the invasion of Ukraine nears its second month.
Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said he reached out to Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider in an effort to encourage him to remove the company from the Russian market, which only accounts for 2% of the food group’s global revenue.
“Talked to @Nestle CEO Mr. Mark Schneider about the side effect of staying in Russian market. Unfortunately, he shows no understanding,” Shmyhal tweeted following the meeting. “Paying taxes to the budget of a terrorist country means killing defenseless children&mothers. Hope that Nestle will change its mind soon.”
In a statement Wednesday, Nestlé said it will be “suspending renowned Nestlé brands such as KitKat and Nesquik, among others” in Russia.
Instead, Nestlé will only provide essential products like baby food and medical-grade products.
“We have already halted non-essential imports and exports into and out of Russia, stopped all advertising, and suspended all capital investment in the country,” the company continued, adding that it does not expect to make a profit in Russia, but if it does, it will donate the money to humanitarian relief organizations.
Nestlé’s claim that it is only staying in Russia due to a desire to provide essential supplies is one that has also been made by other companies like PepsiCo and Mondelez, the brand that makes Oreos and Ritz crackers.
Still, many have accused those big businesses of acting in their own interests and refusing to fully stop operating in Russia because they do not want to cut off the potential for future business.
Speaking to France’s Parliament Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — who also took aim at Nestlé over the weekend — furthered his demands for foreign companies to pull out of Russia, referring to French companies that remain in the country as “sponsors” of the invasion.
“They must stop financing the murders of children and women,” he added.
Updates On The Ground
Meanwhile, on the ground in Ukraine, battles continue to rage across the region.
On Wednesday, Russian forces launched more airstrikes on the capital Kyiv, sending a bombardment of rockets down on a residential area. According to reports, the attacks caused widespread damage but few casualties.
Russia has also persisted in its efforts to cut off essential humanitarian channels. A video posted by Ukrainian authorities Wednesday showed Russian forces had bombed a key bridge used to deliver aid in the city of Chernihiv, cutting it off from the highway connecting it to Kyiv.
In other areas, the Russian military has blocked convoys of refugees from fleeing stricken cities. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told reporters Wednesday that in a village west of Mariupol, Russian soldiers seized 11 buses and their drivers, all of whom she said are now being held “hostage.”
Ukrainian forces, however, have been launching counterattacks around the southern cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv. In Mykolaiv, specifically, outlets have reported that Ukrainian forces delayed a potential Russian attack on the crucial port of Odesa, though many lives were lost.
Some military analysts even went as far as to say that some ground around Mykolaiv has been recaptured.
As western assessments continue to show Russia’s forces stalling in most of Ukraine, concerns over the possibility of a new front being opened along the border of Belarus have persisted. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military warned that there are signs of Russian and Belarusian military equipment being moved across Belarus and building up along the border.
With the logjams, there are also worries that Russia will result to using unconventional deadly weapons. That fear was heightened Russia’s top spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refused to say the country would not use nuclear weapons while speaking to CNN Tuesday night. He stated that the nukes would be used only if there was an “existential threat” to Russia.
As Russia continues to escalate its attacks and rhetoric, the U.S. and its allies have countered by ramping up their response, taking a number of actions Wednesday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the alliance will be doubling its battlegroups deployed in Eastern Europe. Poland’s Interior Minister also wrote on Twitter that the country has “expelled 45 Russian spies pretending to be diplomats.”
On the U.S. side, Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally declared that members of the Russian armed forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, and President Joe Biden is set to announce more sanctions Wednesday evening when he lands in Brussels for a summit.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (NPR)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.