Ukraine Invasion Prompts Bars, Liquor Stores to Stop Selling Russian Vodka

Bars and liquor stores across the United States have stopped selling Russian vodka in protest of the Ukraine invasion.

Russia began its invasion of Ukraine earlier this week after weeks of heightened tension between the two countries. The invasion has been met with protests across the world, with many showing their solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Russia is known for its vodka production and exports it to many countries across the world, including the U.S. Many businesses are seeking to show solidarity with Ukraine by halting the sale of Russian-made vodkas—including Russian Standard Vodka and Beluga Noble Russian Vodka, by promoting brands made in Ukraine due to the conflict.

Jacob Liquor Exchange, a liquor store in Wichita, Kansas, removed all of its Russian vodka bottles from its shelves due to the invasion, local news station KSNW-TV reported.

"I think the whole world knows by now that Russia's at war with Ukraine for no apparent reason," Jamie Stratton, the store's partner and wine director told the news station. "I guess this is our sanction. We don't support it. There's no reason to support it. There's no reason for them to invade the Ukrainians."

Bob's Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan, also said they would no longer sell the vodka.

"I mean, it's just a statement. It's not gonna cause Vladimir [Putin] to move out of Ukraine. But yeah, it's a small statement on behalf of this local bar here. It's what I can do," Bob Quay, the bar's owner, told WOOD-TV.

Southern Spirits in Fort Mill, South Carolina, wrote in a Facebook post: "Due to the current actions of Russia we will not be promoting Russian products at this time. We will sell down the inventory we currently have but will be moving the displays from the floor. Instead, we will continue to promote and carry Kozak which is an outstanding vodka from Ukraine."

Canadian liquor stores are also refusing to sell Russian vodka. Ontario, the country's most populated province, directed the Liquor Control Board Of Ontario to stop selling any Russian products.

Still, many popular brands of vodka are not produced in Russia. According to data from Beverage Dynamics, the leading brands of vodka in the U.S. including Tito's Handmade Vodka and Smirnoff are not made in Russia.

Political leaders have also voiced support for the boycott.

Virginia Senate President pro tempore L. Louise Lucas tweeted: "We need to take strong actions to support Ukraine, so I am calling on @GovernorVA to order the removal of all Russian Vodka and any other Russian products from our ABC stores immediately."

Some experts, however, have cast doubt that the protests will have much of an impact on the conflict. Associate Dean and Economics Professor at Grand Valley State University Paul Iseley told Michigan news station WZZM-TV that the boycotts are more symbolic, but still have value.

"By boycotting a product, it can help show people across the world that the United States isn't divided by these types of things," he said.

Russian vodka protests
Liquor stores and bars in the U.S. are pulling Russian vodka from their shelves. Above, alcohol bottles are seen in Wales in September 2015. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images