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Renault halts production in Russia after Zelenskyy rebuke

French carmaker Renault announced late Wednesday that it has suspended operations in Russia following sharp criticism from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“Renault Group activities in its manufacturing plant in Moscow are suspended as of today,” the company said in a statement following a board meeting.

The decision came just hours after Zelenskyy slammed the auto major for choosing to restart production at a vehicle assembly factory in Moscow owned by its subsidiary AvtoVaz, which makes Lada vehicles.

“French companies must leave the Russian market,” Zelenskyy told French lawmakers in a video address, criticizing Renault and others for “sponsoring the Russian war machine.” The French state owns a 15 percent stake in Renault.

“Everyone must remember that values ​​are worth more than profits,” Zelenskyy said.

While carmakers such as Volkswagen, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz have pulled out of the Russian market and stopped exports to the country in response to its invasion of Ukraine, Renault had hoped to continue activities as Russia makes up around a 10th of its global revenue.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had called for a global boycott of Renault products given its decision to stay in the Russian market.

In the statement announcing its U-turn, Renault said it was “assessing the available options” when it came to its stake in AvtoVaz. The company employs 45,000 workers in Russia.

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