Putin’s War, Economic Sanctions and Asbestos Exports 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



In a livestream address to an anti-war rally in the Swiss capital Bern on March 19, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “Business in Russia works, even though our children die and our cities are destroyed.”1

There has been a plethora of media coverage about economic sanctions imposed by Western Governments on Putin’s regime, with scores of companies pulling out of Russian markets. Calls for consumer boycotts on the ones left behind, such as Johnson and Johnson and Nestle’s, are building day by day as the bombing of Ukrainian towns and citizens continues.2

It is unlikely that the suffering in Ukraine and the outrage of the international community will have any affect on the population in the Sverdlovsk asbestos mining region, some of whom have already shown their support for the war on Ukraine.3

Russian asbestos exports bring increasingly needed foreign currency into the country. In 2019 and 2020 the values of these sales were estimated at $191M (million) and $175M, respectively – with the biggest importers being India, Indonesia, China and Sri Lanka.4 While the Governments of India, China and Sri Lanka remain neutral on the invasion, deadly asbestos shipments will continue to flow one way with payments going the other. Indonesia’s Government, however, has condemned Russia’s “Aggression against Ukraine” and civil society campaigners and trade unionists are, no doubt even now, considering actions to leverage their Government’s position to end imports of Russian asbestos once and for all.5 It is to be hoped that workers and campaigning groups in the other big importing countries will also take action to boycott the unloading, handling and sale of Russian asbestos.6

As a long-time observer of the asbestos industry, Putin’s military playbook comes as no surprise; the merciless commercial fervor with which asbestos has been foisted on innocent populations the world over has never had anything to do with human well-being and everything to do with asbestos profits.7 All of humankind deserve to live a life free from conflict; we condemn unreservedly the actions taken by Putin and his regime.

March 22, 2022


1 Ukrainian officials shame Nestlé over Russia presence. March 19 2022

2 Kazan-Allen, L. Holding Johnson and Johnson to Account. March 17, 2022

3 Kazan-Allen, L. Genocide and Oppression as Viewed through an Asbestos Filter. March 3, 2022.

4 In 2019, Russia’s asbestos exports earned the country $191 million/M; the biggest importers of Russian asbestos that year were India ($131M), Indonesia ($34.8M), Uzbekistan ($32M). China ($31.9M) and Sri Lanka ($11.7M).
In 2020, Russian asbestos exports were valued at $175M; the biggest importers were India ($67M), China ($38.5M), Indonesia ($22M), Sri Lanka ($9.4M), Vietnam ($9.4M), Uzbekistan ($7.8M), Thailand ($7.6M) and Bangladesh ($6.5M).

5 UN resolution against Ukraine invasion: Full text. March 3, 2022.
Why are Indonesians on social media so supportive of Russia? March 19, 2022.
Ratnayake, K. Sri Lankan government declares it “takes no sides” in Ukraine war crisis. March 1, 2022.

6 According to a Russian article uploaded on March 12, 2022, Orenberg Minerals – the owner of the biggest asbestos producer in Russia – is sending asbestos shipments by rail to China “and at the same time we are solving the issue of delivering products through this country to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. We are looking for opportunities to arrange supplies to Vietnam and Indonesia. We are trying to resolve issues with Iran and Turkey on shipment to India, but so far it has not been possible.”
Андрей Гольм рассказал о работе «Оренбургских минералов» в условиях санкций [Andrey Golm spoke about the work of Orenburg Minerals under sanctions]. March 12, 2022.

7 Kazan-Allen, L. Asbestos Facts 2022. March 22, 2022.



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