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Local Lukoil gas stations are feeling the backlash from Russia


Outraged by Ukraine’s invasion, lawmakers in New Jersey’s largest city have lambasted one of the closest symbols of Russia they could find – a pair of Lukoil gas stations

The Newark City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to ask the city’s business administrator to suspend gas station operating licenses, citing Lukoil’s base in Moscow.

In doing so, however, they may have primarily harmed Americans.

The resorts are franchises owned by locals, not Russians. They primarily employ New Jersey residents. And the gasoline sold at the stations comes from a local Phillips 66 refinery.

The campaign targeting petrol stations is an example of the collateral damage of backlash against Russia, as government officials and customers rush to show their support for Ukraine by boycotting products and companies – or things that they perceive as Russian.

Roger Verma, a New Jersey resident who immigrated from India 45 years ago, has owned the franchise of one of the Lukoil stations in Newark since 2005. He said the decision to revoke his license had him puzzled and feared he would be expelled. company, which would affect its 16 employees.

“Let me be clear that I support Ukraine and I fully support Russian sanctions,” Verma said Wednesday outside Newark City Hall. “But I am baffled and confused how people sitting in these positions without having any of their facts together and without having full knowledge of how things are done can introduce and change laws and change people’s lives just like that.”

In some places, people poured Smirnoff vodka, not realizing that the drink is owned by an English company, and bottles consumed in the United States are distilled in Illinois.

Charlie Tgibedes, owner of Box Seats, a restaurant and sports bar in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, told The Sun Chronicle newspaper that he no longer orders vodka from Russian companies, but questions the wisdom of throwing that away. that he already had.

“Looks good doing it, but the hardware is already in the building and paid for. You just hurt yourself by throwing it down the drain,” he said.

On social media, people called for a boycott of Lukoil stations, which operate in 11 states, mostly in the northeastern United States.

Newark officials said attacking Lukoil stations was the moral thing to do, even if they are locally owned.

“We are all horrified by the images we are seeing” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, council member Anibal Ramos said on Wednesday. “Today, Newark stands in solidarity with a number of countries around the world that support democracy and take sanctions against the Russian Federation.”

A phone message could not be left on a Lukoil Americas Corp list. in New York, and the corresponding website appeared to be down. Meanwhile, several news outlets reported that the company issued a statement calling for a “swift resolution of the military conflict” through diplomatic means.

It was not immediately clear Thursday when Newark’s station licenses would be revoked, or if the city administrator could end the suspension. Ramos, who introduced the resolution, said he expected it to happen again.

Sal Risalvato, executive director of New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store and Automotive Association, called the station crackdown “nothing more than political theater.”

“All station owners condemn what Russia is doing in Ukraine, but do not deserve to lose their businesses and investments because of Russia’s bad behavior,” Risalvato wrote in an email.

Ramos said the license suspension in Newark was meant to be temporary and his office had received calls from employers offering to give jobs to all gas station workers affected.

ABC News

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