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Russia’s second biggest oil company calls for an end to Putin’s war

By Charles Riley, CNN Business

Russia’s second largest oil company has broken ranks with President Vladimir Putin.

Lukoil, which produces more than 2% of the world’s crude oil and employs over 100,000 people, has called for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The company’s board of directors said in a statement to shareholders, staff and customers that it was “calling for the soonest termination of the armed conflict.”

“We express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy. We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy,” the board added.

Lukoil chairman and CEO Vagit Alekperov is one of Russia’s richest men. The majority of Lukoil’s shares are owned by the former Caspian Sea oil rig worker and his deputy, Leonid Fedun, according to Reuters.

The company has operations in dozens of countries around the world and is Russia’s second biggest oil company behind state-owned giant Rosneft. It now faces huge challenges as traders shun Russian crude for fear of running afoul of Western sanctions even though they do not directly target fossil fuel exports.

Lukoil shares listed in London have lost roughly 99% of their value following the invasion. Dealing in the company’s stock was suspended on Thursday.

The oil giant is already facing calls for a boycott in the United States, where there are 230 Lukoil gasoline stations owned by American franchisees. Most of the service stations that carry the Lukoil brand are in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Earlier this week, Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska also broke with the Kremlin and called for an end to the war. Fridman, who was born in western Ukraine, wrote in a letter to staff that he wanted the “bloodshed to end.”

Fridman is chairman of Alfa Group, a private conglomerate operating primarily in Russia and former Soviet states that spans banking, insurance, retail and mineral water production.

The billionaire is also chairman of Alfa Bank, Russia’s fourth biggest financial services firm and its largest private bank. Alfa Bank was hit last week by sanctions that will prevent it from raising money through the US market.

Deripaska, who was sanctioned by the United States in 2018, made his fortune in aluminum.

— Kunyi Yang contributed reporting.

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