Why 'Russian Vodka' is trending online [Explainer]

Understanding the impact of political instability on business

Anti-war demonstrators and Ukrainians living in UK, gather around 10 Downing Street to protest against Russia's military operation in Ukraine, on February 25, 2022 in London, United Kingdom.

The world is closely following the developments in Ukraine following Russia's invasion on February 24, 2022.

Ukraine has so far received immense support from the global fraternity as leaders of some of the world's strongest economies - the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union - impose sanctions on Russia.

It is out of these sanctions that the trending topic 'Russian Vodka' has sprung, as ordinary citizens in Canada and the U.S. impose their own form of sanctions on Russia.

In solidarity with Ukraine, a growing number of establishments in the countries have stopped serving Russian brands of liquor and increased Ukrainian brands on their shelves.

"The U.S. obviously is putting on sanctions. I thought I would put on sanctions as well. We’ve got people coming in who’ve never been in the bar before," one bar owner told American broadcaster ABC News.

After the businesspeople shared the measures they had taken to their online followers, the move quickly gained popularity as more and more establishments joined to show their support, causing the topic to trend across the globe.

Sanctions are measures taken against a self-governing state, groups, companies or an individual which may be imposed over political, military, or social issues.

They are a means of applying pressure on the targetted entity to come to the negotiating table as a means of conflict resolution. Sanctions aim at controlling and checking the powers of the targetted entity.

Some examples of sanctions include arms embargoes, commodity restrictions, travel bans, financial asset freezes and general economic sanctions.

So far, Russia has been hit with a barrage of sanctions including:

  1. U.K. has frozen the assets and imposed a travel ban on 10 named Russian individuals (including President, Vladimir Putin, and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov) and 11 businesses, including six banks
  2. In addition to travel bans imposed on the Russian president and his foreign minister, the US has sanctioned large Russian state-owned banks, trading in five Russian oil tankers and container ships, and oligarch “elites close to Putin”
  3. The E.U. has blacklisted Putin, Lavrov, all members of the Russian national security council, select business moguls and Russian media personalities as well as all members of the State Duma. The EU has also sanctioned the purchase of Russian government bonds in the European capital markets.

In addition, Russia is being given a wide berth in the sports world as numerous teams refuse to play in matches against the country, this as 2022 World Cup play-offs scheduled. There have been calls to have the EU suspend the country from all sporting events.

The most popular sanctions are those imposed by the United Nations (UN) Security Council, though they have been criticised as sometimes being ineffective.

Other critics of diplomatic sanctions have sometimes viewed the sanctions as 'for show', where the imposer wants to appear to be doing something but not having to expend actual resources on their part.

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