Ukrainian officials are preparing to mount a pressure campaign aimed at the New York Stock Exchange, designed to isolate companies that do business in Russia, and therefore pay taxes to finance the Kremlin's government – taxes that fund the war against Ukraine.
"This is definitely not the time to pay any taxes to the Russian government," Maryan Zablotskyy, a member of the Ukrainian parliament's finance committee who is spearheading the effort, told FOX Business on Thursday. "These taxes finance guns, ammo and salaries of soldiers who kill Ukrainians. 52 children were killed by the invading forces so far."
"On behalf of the Ukrainian government we will be asking stock exchanges to delist any company which continues to pay taxes in rubles, and investment funds to drop these stocks," Zablotskyy added. "We have also asked US Congress on behalf of the Ukrainian Parliament's Finance Committee to consider banning the trade shares of any company that pay taxes in rubles."
"Our people will be staging protests outside the New York Stock Exchange demanding it delist companies that pay taxes to the Russian government," Zablotskyy told FOX Business.
The Ukrainian Parliament's Committee on Finance, Taxation and Customs Policy sent members of the U.S. Congress a letter Tuesday urging legislators to remove companies that pay taxes to Russia from U.S. stock exchanges.
"Some companies who's [sic] shares are traded on US financial market, continue their operations in Russia and pay taxes to the Russian regime," Danylo Getmantsev, chairman of the parliamentary committee, wrote in the letter provided to FOX Business. "We estimate that these payments are worth billions of dollars. Ultimately, these funds end up paying for the invasion."
"The taxes that these companies pay in Russia finance bombs that kill our military and innocent civilians, including children," Getmantsev added. "We consider it highly immoral to pay any money to Russian government now and believe that these companies should not be listed on the financial markets of the civilized world. Thus, we ask you to consider action of giving these companies a choice: stop paying money to Russian government or get delisted from the US stock market or US-based or US dollar denominated investments."
The letter also asked members of Congress to "sanction and freeze assets of all Russian oligarchs within 48 hours unless they publicly come out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, denounce Vladimir Putin's criminal regime as such and stop any activities that directly or indirectly benefit the regime."
After news of the then-forthcoming letter broke on Monday, McDonald's announced that it would suspend its operations in Russia, joining a host of other companies that had already suspended operations such as BP, Microsoft, Apple, Meta, AT&T, and more. Other companies that suspended Russian operations on Tuesday include Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, YUM! Brands and Papa John's.
Zablotskyy sent FOX Business figures of how much prominent tobacco companies pay the Kremlin in taxes – figures compiled from Russian government tax information and financial reports. The committee calculated that Philip Morris International, Inc. had paid $4.756 billion (USD) in taxes to Russia; that JTI had paid $3.581 billion; that Imperial Tobacco had paid $849 million; that British American Tobacco had paid $371 million; and that the four companies together had paid $9.557 billion.
JTI even brags about its contribution to Russian taxes on its website. "JTI is the biggest investor and the leading tax contributor in the Russian tobacco industry," the website states. "Over the past 20 years its investments in the Russian economy have exceeded $4,6 billion. In 2020, the company's tax payments provided 1,4% of the total revenue of the Russian Federation state budget."
JTI did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FOX Business.