Cooper directs state agencies to end contracts and operations that benefit Russia

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says his executive order comes in response to Russian forces attacking Ukraine.

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Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter & Julian Grace, WRAL anchor/reporter

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper directed state agencies on Monday to review and terminate existing agreements and operations they have that directly benefit Russian entities.

The move by Cooper comes in response to Russian military forces attacking Ukraine.

“The invasion of Ukraine is an attack on a free people," Cooper said in a statement. "This order sends a strong message and helps ensure no public dollars or operations from North Carolina will benefit Russia and its unjustified aggression. Our state stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they fight courageously against a tyrant to defend their country, their democracy and their freedom.”

The governor's executive order applies to state government agencies and departments within his authority, though he strongly recommends other state entities and local government divest from Russian assets.

Outside of an ABC store in Raleigh, customers said after seeing images of Russia invading Ukraine, they agreed with Cooper's decision.

"You can't just come in my house and tell me to get out of it," said Roy Hyman. "I will fight to the end too."

Gus Gusler, the owner of Player's Retreat, said seeing the pain and fear in Ukraine forced him to make changes to his drink lineup.

"I said pull all the Russian vodka we got," said Gusler.

Gusler said his team at Player's Retreat did some research first and found they didn't carry any alcohol made in Russia. In fact, some of the alcohol had Russia's name, but in some cases, was made in America.

"We have no Russian vodka here, so there is nothing to pull," said Gusler.

The order by Cooper follows similar similar moves by other states that serve as an addition to the sanctions imposed by President Joe Biden's administration.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Saturday signed an executive order Saturday for state-run liquor and wine outlets to remove Russian liquor from their shelves.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Sunday directed the state Liquor Control Board to "remove Russian-sourced products from stores and cease selling them as quickly as possible as a small show of solidarity and support for the people of Ukraine."

Cooper's order directs the North Carolina ABC Commission, which oversees alcohol sales in the state, to review the products it has approved that are produced by Russian entities and to immediately suspend such products' approval.

"I think it's a great message to send," said Gusler.

The commission on Monday said it suspended the availability of "spirituous liquor products in North Carolina which are produced by Russian entities" and that "Russian-produced Special-Order products are also no longer available."

Cooper singled out three vodka companies he believes are subject to the order— Hammer + Sickle, Beluga and Russian Standard.

Hammer + Sickle's website dubs itself as "Russia’s most luxurious vodka."

Anthony Faletra, the company's president and chief executive, said Cooper's boycott would hurt Americans.

"We are saddened by this abhorrent war in Ukraine and stand with the people of Ukraine," Faletra said in a statement. "We understand the boycott of Russian products but for Klin Spirits, the owner of Hammer + Sickle, it is much different.

"Hammer + Sickle is 100% U.S-owned. We are small import company based in Lowell, Massachusetts, with five full-time employees. This boycott will close the doors of small company and alter the lives of five hard-working families. I hope this clears up who we are and what this will do to us."

Beluga and Russian Standard didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.


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