Cisco and Nike leave Russia as departure rates for Western companies rise

  • Communications equipment maker Cisco said it would cease operations in Russia and Belarus.
  • Three months after closing business there, sportswear maker Nike (NKE.N) said it was leaving the country entirely.
  • A new law that would give Moscow the power to confiscate property and impose criminal fines could be passed in the coming weeks

US businesses Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) and Nike (NKE.N) intend to leave Russia altogether, both companies confirmed privately as the rate of Western businesses leaving Russia has accelerated.

Communications equipment maker Cisco said it would cease operations in Russia and Belarus. Three months after closing business there, sportswear maker Nike (NKE.N) said it was leaving the country entirely.

A new law that would empower Moscow to confiscate assets and impose criminal fines could be passed in the coming weeks, making it difficult for foreign businesses to leave Russia because of the conflict in Ukraine. As a result some businesses have accelerated their exits.

Paul Musgraves, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, commented on the most recent round of corporations announcing their departure: “What was a trickle became a flood.”

In March, Cisco ceased doing business in Russia, including sales and services.

“We have now decided to systematically close our business in Russia and Belarus,” it said in an emailed statement.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced significant cuts to its Russian business as Cisco’s rival International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) began shutting down its operations there.

Major technology companies such as Cisco, IBM and Microsoft have left the country, limiting access to essential equipment to Russian homes and enterprises. They may now be forced to rely on outdated technology and home-grown alternatives.

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