The Boycott Of Russian Spirits In Support Of Ukraine
Over the course of the past two weeks, many liquor stores across the United States have been pulling all Russian alcohol from the shelves. Initially, governors of New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah ordered all governmentally owned liquor establishments to withdraw Russian brands which prompted many other states (and some independently owned stores) to follow suit.
The removal comes as a response to Russia’s recent invasion and attack on Ukraine; a symbolic act of solidarity for the Ukrainian people if nothing else. Brands like Stoli and Smirnoff have disappeared from the floors of stores, assumed to be of Russian origin and production. Though Smirnoff’s roots can be traced back to Russia in the 19th century, it has long since been owned by the UK and produced by various distilleries, including some in the States. Stoli is actually Latvia-owned and while the vodka is Russian-styled, the company has actively voiced their support of Ukraine; their website adorned with pop up of the international symbol of peace, the dove, in Ukraine’s national colors. Underneath is a message that reads, “Stoli Group stands for peace in Europe and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people” followed by the two hashtags, “#LiberateUkraine” and “#StandWithUkraine.”
While many vodka brands either originate in Russia or are fashioned after or influenced by the nation, there are only a few spirits actually owned and/or produced by Russian companies. Of the $1.4 billion worth of total vodka imports throughout the United States in 2021, Russian brands accounted for $18.5 million; only 1.2% of the vodka sold in this country is from Russia. The most common Russian-owned vodkas are Russian Standard (also sold as Green Mark), Beluga Noble Russian Vodka, and Zyr Russian Vodka, but as they make up very little of the United States’ vodka sales, the boycott and discontinuation of such products will likely not have much of an impact on the Russian economy.
Substances Aren’t A Solution
As if we weren’t living in a world rife with devastation and hardship already, war and destruction occur without reprieve. It can feel all too easy to fall victim to the allure of numbness that alcohol and other substances so often provide. Now more than ever it is important to resist, to remain steadfast and strong and continue to trudge ahead. If you or someone who love is struggling with substance abuse and/or addiction, there are resources to help you.