Russia sanctions Netflix CEO, other prominent American CEOs

Reed Hastings speaking in Berlin in 2015 Copyright: Wikimedia Commons/Gregor Fischer


Ann M. Simmons

Bangkok Post, Thailand

Jun. 9—A handful of prominent American CEOs, including BlackRock Inc.’s Larry Fink and the bosses at Delta Air Lines Inc., Netflix Inc. and Universal Pictures, have landed on a fresh list of sanctions Russia has imposed in retaliation for blistering economic restrictions the West has rolled out against Moscow.

The U.S., U.K. and the European Union have issued sanctions on a widening array of entities and individuals they say are complicit in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or are close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. That has included a long list of Russian officials, legislators and military officers.

Governments have also targeted Russian billionaire business people and friends and family of Mr. Putin. The individual sanctions vary widely by capital, but typically involve travel restrictions and asset freezes.

In response, Moscow has rolled out its own list of sanctioned Western officials. Late Monday, it added a number of prominent American business leaders.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that it would impose sanctions on dozens of U.S. nationals in what it said was a response to “the ever-expanding U.S. sanctions against Russian political and public figures, as well as representatives of domestic businesses.”

The Kremlin said the named individuals would be included on its “stop list,” which means a ban on their travel to Russia for an indefinite period.

It didn’t provide further details about what the sanctions entailed, or specifically why it was targeting those it named. In some cases, it included leaders of companies that have pulled out of Russia in the wake of the invasion, or that have taken other action that Moscow criticized at the time.

For instance, the Foreign Ministry included Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings on the list.

About a year before the war, Netflix entered the Russian market. Shortly after the invasion, however, it said it wouldn’t allow any Russia channels on the service, as required by new Russian regulation. It later halted its service in Russia altogether.

Netflix declined to comment.

The list also includes the entire board of Raytheon Technologies Corp. The U.S. and allies are sending weapons to Ukraine including Javelin antitank missiles, which are made by a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp. Raytheon also makes the Stinger antiaircraft missiles being supplied to Ukraine.

A Raytheon representative wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Delta’s CEO and the president of United Airlines Holdings Inc. both made the list, too.

Western nations have banned Russian airliners from entering their airspace. Within days of the ban, Delta abandoned its code-sharing agreement with Russia flag carrier Aeroflot, and all three main U.S. carriers stopped flying over Russian airspace.

Delta declined to comment.

Universal Pictures president Peter Cramer was also sanctioned. The studio, like others, said it would pause its release of movies in Russia in response to the invasion.

Representatives for Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal weren’t immediately available to comment.

BlackRock declined to comment on the sanctioning of Mr. Fink.

The list of 61 Americans published by the ministry late Monday also included U.S. administration officials and former heads of other large U.S. corporations.

Among officials facing sanctions are Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a news conference Monday that she didn’t have any comment on the matter.

At the State Department, also on Monday, spokesman Ned Price told reporters that he thought the move highlighted the imbalance between the U.S. and Russia.

” The United States is a banking center, it’s a financial center,” he said. “It is a country where citizens from the world seek to travel to, where citizens from the world seek to educate themselves and their families.

“So of course, there’s always going to be an inherent asymmetry between the steps that the Russian Federation puts forward and what we, together with our allies and partners, do in response to Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine.”

Also sanctioned were executives at ratings firms operated by S&P Global Inc., Moody’s Corp. and Fitch Group — all of which moved quickly after the war began to downgrade Russia’s credit ratings.

A spokesman for Fitch declined to comment on the list’s inclusion of president and CEO Paul Taylor. A spokesman for S&P also declined to comment.

Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq Inc., was also included. So was Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange Inc., which owns the New York Stock Exchange.

Both ICE and Nasdaq halted trading of several U.S.-listed Russian stocks shortly after the invasion’s start.

Representatives for ICE and Nasdaq declined to comment.

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