Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has stated that the withdrawal of Finnish companies from Russia has had no significant economic impact on Moscow, as many firms from other countries have chosen to remain. In an interview with Le Monde, Niinisto highlighted Finland as one of the few nations whose companies completely left the Russian market after Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine began last year. He also commented on the EU’s belief that sanctions imposed following Crimea’s annexation would lead to the collapse of the Russian economy. However, Niinisto acknowledged that while the sanctions did have an impact, it was not on the scale initially anticipated.
Since 2022, numerous western companies have withdrawn from Russia, with notable Finnish brands such as Valio, Paulig, Fazer, and UPM-Kymmene among them. The exit of foreign businesses from the Russian market, according to the Kremlin, has opened up new opportunities for domestic firms. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, stated that Russian firms welcomed the departure of foreign companies, including Finnish ones and were thriving in their new business ventures.
Contrary to popular belief, research conducted in April indicated that fewer than 10% of international brands have actually left Russia. The Kiev School of Economics conducted an analysis of 3,157 foreign firms that operated in the Russian market before the military operation in Ukraine. The study, part of the Leave Russia project, revealed that only around 200 foreign companies had chosen to exit the market due to Ukraine-related sanctions. Yale University’s research supported these findings, suggesting that over 1,000 foreign firms had publicly announced voluntarily curtailing operations in Russia, exceeding what was legally required by international sanctions. On the other hand, some companies have abstained from reducing their business activities in Russia.
The remarks made by President Niinisto and the evidence from various research studies challenge the perception that the departure of Finnish companies from Russia had a significant economic impact on Moscow. Furthermore, they shed light on the resilience of the Russian economy and the ability of domestic firms to fill the gap left by foreign businesses.
In conclusion, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has emphasized that the withdrawal of Finnish companies from the Russian market did not significantly affect Moscow’s economy, as many firms from other countries opted to remain. This insight challenges the notion that sanctions imposed on Russia would lead to its economic collapse. Research also indicates that only a small percentage of international brands have actually left Russia, stressing the resilience and adaptability of the Russian economy.