Yale University Names Firms Still Operating In Russia

Russian internet © Pavel Ignatov Shutterstock 2012

Data from Yale University shows a number of big name tech companies continue to trade in Russia, despite sanctions and Ukraine invasion

Many hundreds of big name tech firms have withdrawn or scaled down their operations in Russia, but a number of companies are still conducting business in the country, US research has alleged.

Yale University has been tracking the responses of over 1,200 companies since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, and noted that over 1,000 companies have voluntarily curtailed operations in Russia to some degree or another.

But Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his team of experts, research fellows, and students at the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute revealed a number of companies, including some IT players, are still “defying demands for an exit or a reduction of activities.”

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Yale CELI list

The Yale experts apparently compiled their listings using both public information (government, regulatory filings, tax documents, company statements, financial analyst reports, and other media reports), as well as non-public sources (gathered via company insiders, whistleblowers and executive contacts).

The Yale CELI list identifies a number of IT players in the Grade F category (i.e. companies that Yale alleges are continuing to do business as usual in Russia).

The list also identifies a number of chemical, industrial and consumer entities (such as fashion houses) are continuing to do business with Russia, as are a number of well known Middle Eastern airlines which continue to fly into Russia.

The Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute identified the sector firms operate in, and noted which countries they are based in, and what operations they are still doing in Russia.

The vast bulk of tech firms in the F category still doing business in Russia (according to Yale) are from China, but a few are from United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Taiwan and Israel, as well a couple non-tech firms from the United Kingdom.

Yale alleges the following IT companies are still trading with Russia:

The Chinese firms include ANT Group (it has a joint venture with Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund); China Mobile (business as usual); Honor (business as usual); Oppp (business as usual); Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (Yale alleges it defies US sanctions by continuing to export to Russia); Tencent (has a major investment in VK); and lastly ZTE (business as usual).

European firms identified include AnyDesk Software (based in Germany, which is still providing services to Russia but not disclosed publicly); Eutelsat (based in France, still providing satellite TV services to Russia); and Philips (based in the Netherlands, and online sales are still available in Russia).

American firms include Cloudflare (which Yale says continues sales and services in Russia); and Match Group (which continues to operate in Russia including Tinder).

Firms from different nations include Check Point Software (based in Israel, and allegedly still selling cybersecurity products in Russia); Micro-Star International (based in Taiwan and still allegedly operating in Russia); and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (based in Japan and continues to operate cloud services in Russia, Yale alleges).

The two non IT firms from the UK identified by Yale are industrial player Antal (which Yale alleges is still operating and actively hiring in Russia) and Triumph Motorcycles (which is allegedly still co-operating with Russian dealers).

Silicon UK reached out to a number of the companies on the Yale list, asking for their comment.

Check Point Response

Check Point told Silicon UK that it fully adheres to international sanctions on Russia (as declared by US, EU), to restrictions of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and also took additional steps in this direction, which define the boundaries of its current operations in the region.

The security firm insisted it hardly does any business in Russia these days, does not sell to Russian Government entities as a whole (partially or fully owned), and has dramatically changed its operations in the country.

Check Point told Silicon UK that at the same time, it provides continuous support to all its customers and partners in Ukraine; it also works around the clock to prevent cyber attacks and proactively share with the international community its findings on cyber-attacks it prevents; and trends it sees in this region.

The firm also said it supports multiple humanitarian causes its employees are involved in, which are a direct result of the Russia Ukraine war.

Check Point told Silicon UK it employs around over 100 employees in Ukraine, Russia, and neighbouring countries and their safety and well-being is its top priority, which directs its current policies.

Check Point believes the Yale list misrepresents its status of operations and believes the reason for its listing is the lack of a public statement of divestment from Russia.

The firm concluded by saying it doesn’t really do business anymore in Russia, and especially refrains from sales to any government entity in Russia (partially or fully owned).

Eutelsat Response

French satellite company Eutelsat also responded to Silicon UK and insisted it compiles with all applicable sanctions on Russia.

“Eutelsat is and always has been fully compliant with all applicable sanctions on Russia,” Eutelsat told Silicon UK. “We have already removed Russian television channels from our services including Russia Today, RTR Planeta and Rossiya 24.”

“We carry a small number of Russian channels on our services at present; these broadcast a mix of sport, movies, news and talk shows, entertainment and children’s programming exclusively on a pay-TV basis and are only available to viewers living in Russia,” it added.

It should be noted that Eutelsat is currently in the process of merging with the UK’s OneWeb in a transaction valued at $3.4bn (£2.8bn).

Triumph response

“Triumph has suspended shipments across its network in Russia,” the motorcycle maker told Silicon UK.

“This was a decision made in recognition of both the priority we have for the wellbeing of everyone in our global network, considering their families, our partners and suppliers, and also reflecting the significant trading challenges now in place, including logistics and distribution,” the firm said.

“We are continually monitoring the situation on behalf of our global customer base, and we plan to resume once the situation returns to normal,” it said.

Cloudflare Response

Cloudflare responded to Silicon UK and said that it has spoken about this issue many times since the beginning of the war in Ukraine six months ago.

The firm pointed to the comments already made by Cloudflare’s co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince, saying he has been transparent on a blog since the war began, with a comprehensive discussion available here.

During an interview with Yahoo Finance in May, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said the firm had no employees in Russia and does very little business in Russia.

But he admitted it still does run infrastructure in the country.

Prince said Cloudflare has pulled out of business with any sanctioned parties, and noted that Russian people are speaking out against the Putin regime.

Prince pointed to an uptick he had seen in Russians trying to access uncensored Western news.

Prince also noted he was one of three tech executives sanctioned by the Putin regime in May, because ‘Cloudflare is so good at stopping Russian cyberattacks.’

He said the firm is committed to making the Internet accessible to all Russians.