Most of the approximately 250 Belgian businesses with premises in Russia refuse to leave the country, L'Echo reported on Saturday. However, this should not be misconstrued as them supporting Russia's brutal offensive in Ukraine.
Many of the companies that have chosen to stay in Russia have cited reasons of solidarity with their Russian colleagues and clients. L'Echo calculates that the total value of these business partnerships totals several billion euros.
In 2021, Belgian companies invested €1.5 billion in Russia; in the same year, 1556 Belgian businesses exported a combined total of €3.4 billion of goods to Russia.
Yet some companies are simply unable to continue their activity in Russia, Belga News Agency reports. For instance, the Belgian bakery group La Lorraine had to stop its construction of a new factory overnight since the project was co-financed with the Russian Direct Investment Fund to the tune of €50 million.
- Industrial bakeries fear short-term price explosion of bread
- Belgians increasingly seek payment plans as energy bills spiral
The outbreak of war in Ukraine has led to considerable economic uncertainty, with volatility in energy markets and the toughest economic sanctions ever implemented all taking a heavy toll on investors and businesses around the world. This is without even thinking of the appalling human cost that is being absorbed far beyond the war zone as refugees escape to foreign countries.
Belgium announced on Wednesday a raft of measures that aim to help businesses that have been adversely affected by the conflict and sanctions imposed. Yet with Russian forces only intensifying their artillery bombardments as peace negotiations have yet to be fruitful, the uncertainty and resulting economic hardship look set to drag on.