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US states are banning Russian booze

Bottles of Russian Standard Vodka are seen in on a liquor store shelf.
Reuters/Patrick Doyle
Not a drop to drinnk.
By Courtney Vinopal
Published Last updated

A growing number of US states are banning Russian-made liquor from their stores in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pennsylvania and Virginia announced yesterday (Feb. 27) they would remove Russian-sourced vodka brands from state-run liquor stores following calls from governors Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and Glenn Youngkin, a Republican.

Utah, Ohio, and New Hampshire all made similar moves, and some bars have also dropped Russian vodka brands in favor of Ukrainian ones.

The move may be largely symbolic, as Russian brands account for just a fraction of vodka imported into the US.

Russian vodka accounts for 1% of total imports

The US imported over 17 million gallons of vodka in the first half of 2021, according to the Distilled Spirits Council (pdf), but only around 1.5% came from Russia.

US vodka imports totaled about $1.8 million last June, representing far less in monetary value than vodka imported from France or the Netherlands.

Some of the most popular Russian vodka brands sold in the US are actually produced elsewhere. Stolichnaya, for example, is owned by the Russian billionaire Yuri Schefler but produced in Latvia. Stoli’s website currently displays a message of solidarity with Ukraine.

Some Canadian provinces also decided to ban Russian-made liquor from stores in recent days, but the economic impact there may also be limited—the import value of Russian alcoholic beverages dropped by 24% last year from 2020.

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