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Microsoft stays in Russia. SAP and IBM don’t rush to leave either

Microsoft continues to do business in Russia despite calls to boycott the aggressor country, as it is committing genocide against Ukrainian civilians. The tech vendors SAP and IBM demonstrate a similar stance, Reuters reports.

Microsoft takes care of Russians

In a letter to Volodymyr Zelenskyi on March 14, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, wrote that the company would continue to work with unsanctioned Russian companies, including medical and educational institutions.

“Depriving these institutions of software updates and services could put at risk the health and safety of innocent civilians, including children and the elderly,”

Smith said.

On March 4, Microsoft announced the suspension of sales of its products in Russia. The company stated to be “horrified, angered, and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemns this unjustified, unprovoked, and unlawful invasion by Russia.”

As we can see, the horror and anger have not lasted long. In the letter, Smith wrote that Microsoft is “mindful of the moral responsibility” to protect civilians. However, he said the company was discussing with the US, British, and EU governments whether “to halt any ongoing services and support” in Russia and would move “in lockstep with their sanctions and other economic goals.”

Concerning SAP and IBM

In response to Reuters, IBM said it had suspended cooperation with Russian companies anywhere in the world. Although, it did not suspend support for foreign business inside Russia.

SAP told Reuters it was complying with government actions and even going beyond them, and it would “welcome new sanctions currently under discussion.”

Earlier, SAP vowed to shut down its cloud unit in Russia, but its share in the company’s overall business is quite small. Meanwhile, in a letter to President Zelenskyi, SAP said it continued to provide essential Russian services, including “hospitals, civilian infrastructure, and food supply chains.”

So far, these companies’ employees in Russia are getting paid and accessing workplace tools. Local phone numbers are active.

Bloody business

Such stances of the companies angered their employees, who called for leaving Russia completely after the invasion. These comments Reuters noted all over internal forums, as well as in 18 anonymous interviews with employees. They demand employers not just stop new sales, but suspend all activities in Russia, including software support.

IBM employees caused the biggest backlash. Hundreds of them strongly criticized the cowardice of the company’s management. In response to that, IBM’s CEO said on March 3, that the company was to suspend any business with the Russians. On March 24, in a comment to Reuters, company representatives assured that IBM no longer provided Russian customers with “products, spare parts, software, services, as well as consulting, and technology” anywhere in the world.

However, IBM’s Russian office continues to operate and pay salaries to Russians.


A list of companies that continue to operate in Russia, ignoring the mass killings of civilians in Ukraine, you can find here.

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