Oil giant BP announced Sunday it will drop its stake in Russian energy company Rosneft – the latest private severance of relations with Russia as the global superpower invades neighboring Ukraine.
BP, which has held a 19.75% stake in Rosneft since 2013, also said its chief executive, Bernard Looney, will resign from the Russian firm's board, effective immediately. Bob Dudley, a former BP executive, will also resign from Rosneft's board.
"I am convinced that the decisions we have taken as a board are not only the right thing to do, but are also in the long-term interests of bp," Looney said in a statement. "Our immediate priority is caring for our great people in the region and we will do our utmost to support them."
The company explicitly cited the ongoing Russian attack on Ukraine as the reason for the severance.
"Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an act of aggression which is having tragic consequences across the region," said BP chairman Helge Lund. "BP has operated in Russia for over 30 years, working with brilliant Russian colleagues. However, this military action represents a fundamental change."
BP also acknowledged that relations with Rosneft, a government-run company, directly benefited the Russian government.
"We can no longer support BP representatives holding a role on the Rosneft board," Lund said. "The Rosneft holding is no longer aligned with BP’s business and strategy and it is now the board’s decision to exit BP’s shareholding in Rosneft. The BP board believes these decisions are in the best long-term interests of all our shareholders."
Kwasi Kwarteng, the U.K.'s business and energy secretary, praised the move by BP in a tweet on Sunday.
"Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine must be a wake up call for British businesses with commercial interests in Putin’s Russia," he said.