Bacardi is a sponsor of war according to Ukraine. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)


Bad spirits: Ukraine adds Bacardi to its list of ‘Russian war sponsors’

Ukraine's National Agency on Corruption Prevention says Bacardi Limited is disregarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and is making significant money through sales in Russia.


Ukraine’s national anti-corruption agency has added spirit maker Bacardi Limited to its catalogue of “foreign supporters of the war” with Russia, pointing to the company’s ongoing commercial activities and tax contributions in the country.

On August 10, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) asserted that Bacardi Limited, based in Bermuda, was disregarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. It said the company makes significant money through sales in Russia and pays millions in taxes to the Russian government.

“After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Bacardi continues to supply millions of dollars’ worth of products to Russia and hire new employees there,” NACP stated.

“In the spring of 2022, the company announced that it would stop exporting to Russia and stop investing in advertising, but later this part of the statement disappeared,” it added.

Today, the Bacardi website states that it is the company’s “priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of their people”, especially those directly affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“We are supporting our people in Ukraine with resources and services necessary during this time of great need,” it says.

Bacardi says it has “committed USD 1 million to Red Cross and Mercy Corps to support humanitarian efforts on the ground”.

“Our donation will enable distribution of food, medicine, and other critical care items, along with first aid training, work to reunite separated families, emergency cash and other resources and networks to help those in need.”

Following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, a number of prominent international brand owners exited the Russian alcohol market. That has led to a decrease in competition and opened up possibilities for those that opted to stay, according to NCAP.

“The withdrawal of a number of leading international brand owners from the Russian alcohol market has reduced competition and created opportunities for those who remained and for local companies.

“Currently, Bacardi employs 350 people in seven cities of Russia”, NACP claimed. “The company continues to look for new employees and has published vacancy announcements.”

It said Bacardi Rus, the Russian arm of the company, “seized the opportunity” and imported goods totalling $169 million during the inaugural year of the full-scale war.

According to data disclosed by Russia’s Federal Tax Service, Bacardi Rus saw an 8.5 per cent growth in revenue, reaching 32.6 billion rubles (approximately $33 million) in 2022. Furthermore, net profit surged to 4.7 billion rubles, a 206.5 per cent increase compared to 2021.

The previous year saw Bacardi Limited paying more than $12 million in income tax to Russia’s state budget, as highlighted by the NACP.

Bacardi Limited owns in excess of 200 brands and labels, including Grey Goose, Eristoff, William Lawson’s, Bombay and Martini, and sells products in more than 170 countries. The company is primarily known for its Bacardi rum, the best-selling rum brand in the world.

Following Russia’s invasion more than 1,000 companies have declared their voluntary reduction in operations there to varying extents, according to data collected by Yale University.