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Virginia Halts the Sale of Russian Vodka in Response to the War in Ukraine

Brands such as Beluga, Russian Standard and Imperia will no longer be available in the state-run stores.

Bottles of Russian Standard Vodka seen on the shelf at an LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on February 25, 2022. Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy says the provincial government is directing the LCBO to withdraw all products produced in Russia from store shelves following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The LCBO is one of the largest purchasers of alcohol in the world. Imported spirits, including Russian vodka brands, are among your most popular products. On Thursday, all parties rose in the Ontario legislature at Queen's Park to unanimously denounce Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via AP) AP/Creative Touch Imaging Ltd

In response to Russia’s attack on the Ukraine, Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) has decided to stop selling Russian-sourced vodka. According to a Facebook post shared Sunday, the state’s regulatory agency, which oversees about 400 separate stores, has removed Russian vodkas from shelves.

Virginia is considered a control state in which ABC is the sole retailer of distilled spirits. Brands such as Beluga, Hammer & Sickle, Imperia, Mamont, Organika, Russian Standard and ZYR will no longer be available in the state-run stores. The agency did add, however, that stores will continue to carry spirits with Russian monikers, like Stolichnaya and Smirnoff, which aren’t actually produced in Russia.

The move comes shortly after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked state agencies to support Ukraine by reviewing contracts to limit the number of tax dollars spent on Russian goods or services.

Virginia is not the only US state curbing the sale of the crystal spirit to protest Russia’s invasion, either. Officials in Ohio, Utah and New Hampshire have also called on liquor stores to remove Russian-made or Russian-branded products from shelves.

As CNN points out, the boycotts are largely symbolic as less than 1 percent of vodka consumed in the US is produced in Russia. In fact, more than half of all vodka consumed in the country is actually made domestically, according to data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

Still, it illustrates the widespread condemnation of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. In response to Vladimir Putin ordering troops over the Ukrainian border on February 24, countries around the world have imposed an array of unprecedented sanctions on Russia, targeting everything from the finance and energy sectors to sporting events. In the midst of such death and destruction, it seems the least that the western world can do.

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