Koch Industries, Inc., led by billionaire conservative donor Charles Koch, will stay in Russia, defying calls for American companies to exit the country, according to a statement published on its website Wednesday. More than 400 companies have either withdrawn, suspended or scaled back their operations in Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine, a list compiled by Yale’s School of Management shows.
Guardian Industries, owned by Koch Industries, employs 600 people across two glass manufacturing facilities in Russia. Koch also has an additional 15 employees in the country outside of Guardian Industries.
“While Guardian’s business in Russia is a very small part of Koch, we will not walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them,” Dave Robertson, president and COO of Koch Industries, said in the statement.
Robertson criticized Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, which have killed civilians and led over 3.1 million people to flee their homes, according to data published by the United Nations.
“The horrific and abhorrent aggression against Ukraine is an affront to humanity,” he said. “It violates our company’s values and principles.”
Still, the company is choosing to maintain its presence in the country and follow Russian rules, arguing that leaving would harm its employees.
“Koch companies are complying with all applicable sanctions, laws and regulations governing our relationships and transactions within all countries where we operate,” Robertson said.
In a virtual address to Congress on Wednesday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged lawmakers to pressure companies in their states to cut business ties with Russia.
“All American companies must leave Russia from their market ... immediately because it is flooded with our blood,” Zelenskyy said. “Peace is more important than income, and we have to defend this principle in the whole world.”
Koch Industries, Inc., which employs over 120,000 people in more than 50 countries, has annual revenues of $115 billion, according to Forbes.
Charles Koch, the company’s 86-year-old CEO, threw his money behind the tea party movement after Barack Obama’s election victory in 2008. But he has said he regrets the partisanship he has come to be known for over the years.
“Boy, did we screw up! What a mess!” he wrote in his book “Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World,” published in November 2020.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in November 2020, following the presidential election, he did not reveal which candidate he supported.
Still, after the violent insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Koch Industries was the fourth-largest donor bankrolling Republican lawmakers who falsely argued that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election, according to OpenSecrets, the nonprofit tracking money in U.S. politics. But Koch himself said Republicans should certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Koch is ranked No. 27 on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires List for 2021.