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Levi's, a Cold War emblem, suspends operations in Russia

Catherine Larkin

Denim company Levi Strauss & Co. is temporarily suspending commercial operations in Russia, where it gets about 2% of its sales, almost two weeks after the invasion of Ukraine.

The company said in a statement Monday that the "enormous disruption occurring in the region" has made it "untenable" to conduct business as normal. It is also donating more than $300,000 to nonprofit groups providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Eastern Europe.

Levi jeans have been an iconic brand for decades, so much so that the U.S. included them in an exhibition of American culture that was sent to Moscow in the late 1950s. They became a coveted black market item in the Soviet Union for the next 30 years. The company is just the latest in a string of global firms that have stopped sales in Russia as Western governments ramp up sanctions.

"Any business considerations are clearly secondary to the human suffering experienced by so many," the San Francisco-based company said in the statement. Levi "continues to be saddened by the devastating conflict in Ukraine and our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected, including our employees, partners and their loved ones."