Virgin’s Richard Branson urges businesses to ditch Russia  | Business News


Sir Richard has been introduced as a character in the hugely popular computer game Minecraft as part of a fundraising effort for Ukraine.

By Martin Kimber, reporter

Richard Branson has criticised companies still operating in Russia accusing them of sustaining Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. 

The Virgin founder told Sky News “too many companies continue to profit from doing business with or in Russia, whilst fuelling Putin’s war machine”.

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The comments come weeks after Sky News analysis revealed that British car makers appear to be trying to circumvent sanctions by selling hundreds of millions of pounds‘ worth of luxury vehicles to Russia indirectly via former Soviet states.

These allegations have been stringently denied by the likes of Rolls Royce and Bentley.

Sir Richard joined other business leaders at the outset of the invasion in signing an open letter stating they would only consider resuming business activities in Russia when hostile operations ceased.

He also renewed pressure on European governments to green light further support for Ukraine, saying: “Further financial and military aid for Ukraine’s brave struggle should be approved swiftly”.

“For Europe’s leaders, the stakes couldn’t be any higher,” he added. “European nations must come together now and forge a common security architecture that is robust enough to stand on its own feet and defend against the real threat they face.”

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He told Sky News the private sector would be critical to Ukraine’s future, commenting, “business will be central to the efforts of rebuilding Ukraine.”

“Ukraine needs a sustained, collective commitment across all sectors to help rebuild its infrastructure and its battered towns, and to bring its economy back on its feet.”

Branson made the comments in his capacity as an ambassador for UNITED24, a charity set up personally by President Zelenskyy to support the rebuilding of Ukraine.

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Minecraft character

The charity has introduced Sir Richard as a playable character in popular computer game Minecraft as the latest fundraising effort to rebuild a school in Ukraine.

French game developers have built a game within Minecraft, known as Minesalt, in which they recreated the famous salt mines of Soledar, a city in Donetsk Oblast.

Despite the business magnate selling his video games division, Virgin Interactive Entertainment (VIE), in the late ’90s, he said he was “looking forward to exploring Minesalt with my grandchildren, and surprising them when I pop up in the game.”

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Asked whether Branson whose VIE used to publish Resident Evil, Street Fighter and Doom II, would consider re-entering the gaming market he said: “We always look for ways in which Virgin can be a disruptor in the market, so never say never.”


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