Guinness has run out in the many Irish pubs in Moscow after Diageo paused exports to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine two months ago.
Diageo, which makes Guinness, Harp, Smithwicks, Kilkenny and a variety of spirits, said it stopped exporting to Russia and Ukraine a week after the invasion started on February 24.
More than 750 multinational firms have so far said they are exiting or suspending activities in Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine triggered an unprecedented spate of sanctions.
“Our priority is the safety of our people in Ukraine and the wider region,” Lisa Cashin, a spokeswoman for Diageo Ireland, said in a statement to the Irish Independent. “We have paused the export of our products to Ukraine and Russia while we focus on supporting our employees and the humanitarian relief effort.”
Diageo, which began distribution to Russia in 2006, also suspended the local production of its beers, which were brewed locally under licence by third parties.
Diageo’s business in Russia contributed less than 1pc to sales and operating profit in the first half of the current financial year. The spirits giant has just under 300 employees in Russia and only a handful in Ukraine.
Several pubs in Moscow reported that stocks of Guinness and Kilkenny have disappeared entirely with some bars resorting to selling cans of Western lager.
“I was in an Irish bar last night and have not had any Guinness for two to three weeks and they say there is none to be had in Moscow,” said Irishman Chris Weafer, the founder and chief executive of Macro-Advisory, an emerging markets consulting firm. “There’s plenty of Harp still and loads of Teeling Whiskey but none of the black stuff.”
Mr Weafer, who has lived and worked in Russia for 24 years, said his pint of Harp has jumped by 60pc to 560 roubles (€7.38) from 350 roubles in mid-February. “A lot of places changed prices when the rouble hit 120 versus the dollar on March 8 but have not cut back as the rouble recovered to 73 roubles.”
Oleg, a barman at Harat’s Pub in New Arbat street, Moscow, said he had poured the last pints of Guinness a week ago.
“Our last barrels of Guinness and Kilkenny have finished sadly but we have plenty of other Western beers and Russian beer in stock,” Oleg said. “There is talk of sourcing some Russian-made Guinness but we haven’t seen it yet or tried it.”
Russian-owned Harat’s, which started in Siberia, claims to be the largest chain of Irish pubs in the world with 72 pubs in 43 cities across Russia. Harat’s press service didn’t reply to emailed requests for comment.
Moscow has several pubs that are owned by Irish publicans, including Paddy’s Irish Pub located near to Belorusskaya railway station. Paddy’s is run by Steve Conway, who has two other pubs in the Russian capital.
David Pearce, vice-chairman and treasurer of the Irish Business Club in Moscow, held his leaving do at Paddy’s last week after deciding to leave Russia after 22 years.
Mr Pearce and his friends, which included members from the Moscow Dragons Rugby Club, were served cans of Guinness as the bar had run out of Irish beer on tap.
“I had a great send-off but it was very sad to leave,” said Mr Pearce, who is now back at his family home in Skerries, Co Dublin.
“About 60pc of the Irish Business Club have now left Moscow and I had to go too, or I could have ended up in jail. It was an easy decision as my wife has family in Ukraine and I had to speak up when people were speaking nonsense about the war.”