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Richard Branson wants Russia’s fossil fuel customers to stop funding the Ukraine war

April 22, 2022, 10:05 AM UTC

Good morning.

Richard Branson says it’s time to stop buying oil and gas from Putin’s Russia. “It’s preposterous that we are still sending billion dollar checks to Russia,” the British billionaire businessman told me earlier this week. “If France had been sending Hitler a couple of billion dollars a week, imagine how angry we all would have been!”

Branson was co-founder of the B Team, a non-profit promoting business practices more centered on people and planet. He and about two dozen other B Team leaders are releasing a statement this morning noting that “evidence that atrocities committed by Russian troops on Ukrainian civilians, including women and children, is mounting” and calling on business to take further steps to combat the “unprovoked and unacceptable” invasion. You can read the B-Team’s statement here. Other CEO signers include Oliver Bate of Allianz; Jesper Brodin of IKEA; Jochen Zeitz of Harley Davidson; Isabelle Kocher, former chief of Engie; and Hamdi Ulukaya of Chobani.

“Business leaders should not just sit on the sidelines,” Branson said. He proposes that European countries “cut the speed limit on trucks and on cars. A 10-mile-an-hour reduction would free up sufficient fuel for Germany to not import any more fuel from Russia.” Other businesses, he said, could help the effort “by taking 5%-10% of the energy burn out of our business.”

“People don’t like the word ration. But I think we are effectively in a war, whether we like it or not. We should feel we are in a war. It’s a war we have to win, and we should do everything we can to win it.”

Separately, David Kamenetzky and Leopoldo Lopez take Branson’s argument a giant step further in a commentary piece published in Fortune yesterday. They say the once widely-held notion that economic freedom would lead to political freedom has proven false, and companies should stop doing business with autocratic regimes. “We must add a new dimension to corporate governance—call it Freedom, or Democracy—to reflect the fact that democratic freedoms are essential to sustain the long-term success and stability of corporations.” 

What do CEO Daily readers think about that?  Send me your thoughts, and I will share them next week. More news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

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Tens of millions of Americans will suffer the debilitating effects of Long COVID, writes emergency department physician Carolyn Barber in this piece for Fortune, which urges continued vaccination, testing, and masking: "National health policies and preventative measures related to the disease in general remain critically important. Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas pedal." (Bonus read: The Serum Institute of India—the world's biggest vaccine manufacturer—stopped making fresh batches of COVID jabs several months ago because there is now a global oversupply.) Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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