Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 08.01.2018
Kasper Rørsted, the chief executive officer of Adidas, thinks Europe should improve relations with Russia, that sanctions don’t hurt Russia but hurt the West, and that Russia would be a good ally to solve the situation around North Korea and the problem of refugees from North Africa.
Rørsted did not say anything about Ukraine. He did not mention that Russia has been invading Europe in Ukraine since 20 February 2014. He did not mention that Russia ruined relations with Europe by going to war against Europeans. He did not mention that sanctions are against Russian individuals and entities responsible for war crimes and gross violations of human rights. He did not mention the problem of refugees from Putin’s invasion and occupation of Crimea and Donbas – 1.8 million homeless Europeans. He did not mention that Russia is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and cannot possibly be an ally in solving problems of refugees.
Rørsted quoted Putin from 10 years ago, with the Russian dictator’s empty talk of a free market from Lisbon to Vladivostok. What Rørsted did not mention is that the European Union and Ukraine have a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, and a free market already exists from Lisbon to Kharkiv.
Rørsted said, without evidence, that “culturally, Russia is much closer to Europe than others.” The territory of Russia lies mostly in Asia, whereas Ukraine is entirely within Europe. In fact, Ukraine is the largest wholly European country. Rørsted made no mention of Ukraine whatsoever, skipping it over (as so many Russo-centric Europeans do). He is wrong to say that Russia is close to Europe, and is probably ignorant that Ukraine is Europe. Rørsted talked about the Russian dictator Putin. Rørsted said nothing about the Ukrainian people, their democratic and European choice, their Revolution of Dignity, and their defence of the West in the trenches of Donbas against Russian aggression.
Adidas remains a sponsor of the World Cup in Russia in 2018. Years of rampant corruption within the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), that generated the worst publicity imaginable for a multinational corporation, did not convince Adidas to withdraw sponsorship. Years of Russia invading Europe in Ukraine did not convince Adidas to withdraw sponsorship. Adidas expects to make a profit selling national team jerseys, FIFA-Russia corruption and Putin’s War notwithstanding.
Adidas is under suspicion of violating sanctions in Ukrainian Crimea, which is temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation. Adidas uses Russian affiliates to subvert Europe’s defence against Putin’s War – shipping goods to Russia proper, which the affiliates illegally transport to occupied Crimea. This is how Siemens busted sanctions to get four turbines shipped to Crimea, and it’s how Adidas gets its products into Ukrainian territory that has been invaded and occupied by Russia.
Kasper Rørsted repeated Kremlin talking points, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung gave him the platform to do it. The Adidas CEO did not mention Ukraine, Putin’s War, Crimea, or FIFA corruption. Rørsted is tying the Adidas brand to Russian war crimes and human rights abuses. Rørsted is associating himself with Putin, the invader of Europe. The choice Adidas is making for authoritarian aggressor Russia and against democratic defender Ukraine will be remembered.