‘Viable peace’ Business leaders issue Putin ultimatum with a ‘hope’ to return to Russia


In late March, a group of high-level global advertising executives and CEOs initiated confidential talks to pursue aligning around an open letter establishing the conditions for a “minimum viable peace” necessary for companies who have suspended or ceased operations in Russia to consider returning. More than 750 companies have now announced at least a partial withdrawal from Russia after the country’s brutal invasion of Ukraine two months ago.

Over 300 have pulled out completely.

Many corporate statements announcing the decision have emphasised humanitarian aspects and unity with the Ukrainian people.

Pepsi suspended soda sales in Russia, describing events in Ukraine as “horrific”.

Ford Motor Co. cited Russia’s “threats to peace and stability” in pausing operations at its three plants in the country.

While Ikea closed its stores there and called the war a “human tragedy”.

The leaders have written an open letter to Russia explaining their viewpoints.

They represent a huge part of “normal” life in Russia – the day-to-day brands, businesses, and services that ordinary Russians have become used to, and upon which their routines, identities, and habits depend.

The letter said: “To that end, we are aligning around an open letter to the world, and to the people of Russia, making plain our desire to one day return together, and the terms of that ‘minimum viable peace’.

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“We plan to publish our letter in May, marking May as a traditional month of optimism, where we look, together, towards a peaceful, prosperous future.”

It continued: “These are dangerous, unsettling times.

“As businesses which had, until recently, enjoyed operating in Russia, we believe we have a role to play in helping to bring about a safer, more secure, more prosperous future for everyone.

“Leaving Russia, our Russian colleagues and customers, was not easy.

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“Together, we want to explain why we made that decision, and also set out the circumstances that would allow us to consider returning, when the time is right.

“So, we are today making clear both the common reasons for our having left, and the common circumstances under which we would be able to take those first steps back.

“We hope that by doing so, we can bring about that future more quickly.

“Though we are a group of very different businesses, operating in different ways, we left together, and for the same reasons. Likewise, today we have come together to agree what we see as a ‘minimum viable peace’ that would allow for us to consider a return to Russia.”

They talk about three criterias to satisfy the “minimum viable peace”.

The criteria stated: “Firstly, for Russian military forces to withdraw from Ukrainian territory.

“Secondly, for an independent body to be permitted to investigate potential war crimes.

“Finally, for an independent media to be allowed to operate freely in Russia, and for its output to be available to all Russians.

“These are challenging times and they call for clarity, so we are collectively making clear that only under these circumstances would we consider returning, re-opening, resuming the activities that matter to our customers, colleagues and partners in Russia.”


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