German software giant SAP is reportedly considering a total withdrawal from Russia, and not just a halt to sales in the country.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought worldwide condemnation and some of the most severe and wide ranging sanctions ever seen, that includes much of the tech industry.

Indeed, things are now so bad for Russia that this week it has for the first time since 1918 defaulted on its sovereign debt, as it cannot access its US dollar reserves held by American banks.

Sales halt

In early March, SAP (along with IBM and Oracle) announced it was stopping business in Russia.

“Like the rest of the world, we are watching the war in Ukraine with horror and condemn the invasion in the strongest possible terms,” SAP CEO Christian Klein wrote at the time.

“We are stopping business in Russia aligned with sanctions and, in addition, pausing all sales of SAP services and products in Russia,” Klein wrote.

At the time, Ukrainia government minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted that SAP’s action’s did not go far enough.

Indeed, Fedorov asked the German tech giant to “stop support of SAP products, as long as Russian tanks and missiles attack Ukraine!”

Total withdrawal?

Now Reuters has reported that SAP’s chairman and founder told the Handelsblatt newspaper in an interview published on Thursday that the company is looking into closing its business in Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The attack by Russia on the Western world is absolutely terrifying,” SAP chairman and founder Professor Hasso Plattner told Handelsblatt. “By the way, it’s not Putin alone. Quite a large part of the Russian people seems to support him.”

“We are examining how we can make a structured withdrawal from Russia,” said Plattner. “At the same time, we have a duty to provide for our 1,300 employees in Russia.”

SAP has already stopped sales in Russia but it still offers updates and technical support to existing customers who are not affected by sanctions, Handelsblatt reported.

The German software giant also plans to shut down its cloud services in Russia, though it would give customers the opportunity to back up their data first, the newspaper reported.

Earlier this week, Finnish telecoms giant Nokia confirmed it is pulling out of the Russian market altogether, and not just suspending its operations in the country.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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