Adidas chief Kasper Rorsted is calling on Europe to restore relations with Russia.
Speaking to German media, the head of the popular footwear, clothing and accessories company stressed that sanctions harm the West just as much as Russia.
“Anyone who thinks that sanctions only punish Russia is wrong,” Rorsted said, speaking to Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. “They’ve led to the loss of many jobs in the West. Politicians prefer to keep silent about this fact.”
Noting that European countries need “to find a solution to the tense relationship with Russia,” the CEO remarked that the blame for the present tensions doesn’t lie exclusively in Moscow. “Vladimir Putin said ten years ago that we need a free market from Portugal to Moscow. You don’t have to approve of everything that President Putin does, but in Europe’s interests we are working for rapprochement with Russia.”
Late last year, a major study by European economists showed that sanctions cost the EU and the US over $50 billion in losses between early 2014 and the end of 2015, over 90% of that figure borne by Europe.
Admitting his affinity for the country, Rorsted said that he has been well-acquainted with Russia for many years. “I like the country, I like the people, and I think that culturally, Russians are much closer to Europe than others.”
Given the various crises and conflicts plaguing the world today, the CEO believes that European politicians should look for allies like Russia, instead of “quarrelling with everyone on the planet.”
Ukrainian authorities recently accused three German companies, including Adidas, of circumventing anti-Russian sanctions by doing business in Crimea. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin promised to “exert influence” on these companies “by political and legal means.” Adidas has officially denied Klimkin’s claims.
The German brand of sportswear is hugely popular across Russia and the former Soviet Union. First arriving in the USSR in time for the 1980 Olympics, the brand quickly gained a major following, which intensified after the brand was adopted by gopnik culture in the 1990s and 2000s. Today, Adidas tracksuits and footwear and their Chinese counterfeits remain incredibly popular as an affordable and comfortable way to dress for everyone from young athletic types to grandparents looking for something to wear while they go mushroom picking or to the dacha to plant some potatoes.