In an act of solidarity with Ukraine, Governor Greg Abbott on Saturday asked Texas retailers to voluntarily remove all Russian products from their shelves.
Abbott tweeted that he had requested members of the Texas Restaurant and Texas Package Stores Associations, as well as all other retailers. “Texas stands with Ukraine,” he wrote.
The request came days after Russia began its assault on Ukraine in Europe’s biggest ground offensive since World War II. Ukraine’s health minister said on Saturday that 198 people, including three children, had been killed and more than 1,000 injured.
Abbott’s tweet received mixed reviews, with some responses calling it “performative” and “useless” because the products were already paid for.
But others, including Jason Villalba, CEO of the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and former Republican state representative, were quick to thank Abbott for his efforts.
“We must stand with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine”, Villalba tweeted. “Every measure is useful, especially those that have an impact on the portfolio.”
Restaurants ready to support
Some Texas restaurants have already started replacing Russian products on their own, and many more are likely to join in, said Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association.
“Restaurants continue to hold their own,” Knight said. “I am humbled by how they have come together and how they continually support their community here in Texas and abroad while they are still clearly in their own crisis trying to emerge from the impact of COVID-19. .”
Knight said the association stood in solidarity with Ukrainians and told restaurants it would support them if they replaced Russian imports of alcohol or food with alternatives.
Knight said the past few years have been tough for restaurants, but through it all, band members are supporting each other, whether it’s an ice storm or the situation in Ukraine. She said it’s too early to see what impact the conflict in Ukraine will have on restaurants – the association is watching how the rising cost of fuel will affect the cost of supplies.
“Now I think what you will see is that they will come together again to support Ukraine and make sure they do their part and frankly whatever they can do to support in this incredible tragedy,” she said.
Lance Lively, executive director of the Texas Package Stores Association, said in a written statement that the group sends its prayers to those who are hurting.
“TPSA members are proud to support the people of Ukraine and stand ready to support economic sanctions by removing Russian imports from our stores,” Lively said.
At Oak Lawn, Alexandre’s bar said in a Facebook post he was getting rid of his Russian spirits and would have Ukrainian vodka next week. The bar also featured a snap whose name was a swear-laden message addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Texas barbecue restaurant owner Skeeter Miller called the action a “big move” and said he had no problem removing Russian products from the shelves.
Miller said he factored in the cost of removing the products – mostly alcohol – from the shelves, “but it’s a serious situation.”
On Saturday afternoon, he said the six restaurants of his 47-year-old company, The County Line, had already been ordered to remove Russian vodkas. Miller has two locations each in Austin and San Antonio and one in El Paso, as well as a restaurant in Albuquerque, NM
“We are fed up with what is happening in Ukraine, but we are here to support in any way we can,” Miller said.
“It’s our punishment”
Several governments around the world have made the same request of their businesses, while some restaurant and bar owners have taken it upon themselves.
The Jacob Liquor Exchange in Wichita, Kan., removed more than 100 bottles of Russian vodka from its shelves and stored them in the back room, even spilling some on the floor.
“I guess that’s our sanction…and it may be small, but every little thing makes a difference,” store partner Jamie Stratton says KSNW-TV. “But I’m not going to put it on the shelves. There’s no reason for him to be here. We do not support them.
In Bend, Oregon, a bar owner filmed himself pouring all his Russian vodka.
“Russia is acting like it’s 1939 and going into Europe with all the strength it has in Ukraine,” Pine Tavern owner Bill McCormick said. told KPTV-TV. “I’m so concerned about it metastasizing to other countries.”
In Ontario, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy ordered the provincial liquor board to ask stores to remove Russian vodka and other alcoholic products, The Canadian Press reports.
“Ontario joins Canada’s allies in condemning the Russian government’s act of aggression against the Ukrainian people and we strongly support the federal government’s efforts to sanction the Russian government,” Bethlenfalvy said in a written statement.
British Columbia has completely stopped imports of Russian alcohol, according to Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth.
“Our province stands with those who understand that peace in Europe after two world wars depends on respect for international law,” he said. told The Canadian Press.