New York (CNN Business)Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by billionaire Charles Koch, is planning to stay in Russia even as hundreds of Western companies have scaled back operations there following the invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement on Wednesday, Koch Industries announced its Guardian Industries subsidiary will continue to operate two glass manufacturing facilities in Russia that employ about 600 people.
“While Guardian’s business in Russia is a very small part of Koch, we will not walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them,” Koch Industries President Dave Robertson said in the statement. “Doing so would only put our employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good.”
Beyond the two factories, Koch Industries said it employs 15 people in Russia but has no other physical assets in the country.
Charles Koch has been a frequent supporter of the Republican party. Senate Democrat leaders chastised the company for its decision and called on Koch Industries to immediately suspend its operations in Russia.
“Koch Industries is shamefully continuing to do business in Putin’s Russia and putting their profits ahead of defending democracy,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Ron Wyden, in a joint statement. “As the democracies of the world make huge sacrifices to punish Russia for Putin’s illegal and vicious invasion of Ukraine, Koch Industries continues to profit off of Putin’s regime.”
The announcement came on the same day that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called on America, including business leaders, to do more during what is the “darkest time” for his country.
“All American companies must leave Russia from their market, leave their market immediately, because it is flooded with our blood,” Zelensky said during his address to Congress on Wednesday.
Koch Industries said it is complying with all sanctions, laws and regulations within all countries it operates in.
The company condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“The horrific and abhorrent aggression against Ukraine is an affront to humanity,” Robertson said.
Koch Industries said it has provided financial assistance to employees and their families from Ukraine and humanitarian aid to those impacted in neighboring countries.
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