Russian vodka pulled from shelves in US, Canada bars, liquor stores: ‘Every small thing makes a difference’

Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this week and street fighting had broken out in the capital city of Kyiv overnight Friday

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Liquor stores across the U.S. and Canada have started throwing out their stocks of Russian vodka in protest of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to reports. 

In Ontario, Canada, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy directed the provincial Liquor Control Board to have stores remove Russian vodka and other alcoholic products, according to the Canadian Press. 

"Ontario joins Canada's allies in condemning the Russian government's act of aggression against the Ukrainian people and we strongly support the federal government's efforts to sanction the Russian government," Bethlenfalvy said. "We will continue to be there for the Ukrainian people during this extremely difficult time."

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Products will be removed from nearly 700 stores across the province.

Bottles of Russian vodka for sale inside a Bristol store, operated by Mercury Retail, in Moscow, Sept. 21, 2021. 

Bottles of Russian vodka for sale inside a Bristol store, operated by Mercury Retail, in Moscow, Sept. 21, 2021.  (Getty Images)

‘Standing with Ukraine’

"Ontario and the LCBO can't say it's truly standing with Ukraine while continuing to be Putin’s customer," Steven Del Duca, leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, said.

Elsewhere in Canada, stores in Manitoba, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Newfoundland were also taking similar action.

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation removed Russian products from its shelves and website because of the "terrible events taking place." 

British Columbia was ceasing imports on Russian alcohol, Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth said.

"Our province stands with those who understand Europe's peace following two world wars depends on respecting international law," he told the Canadian Press

‘The whole world knows’

In the U.S., the Jacob Liquor Exchange in Wichita, Kansas, decided to remove its more than 100 bottles of Russian vodka from the shelves and poured some of it on the ground. 

"I think the whole world knows by now that Russia’s at war with Ukraine for no apparent reason," Jamie Stratton, wine director and partner of the store, told KSNW-TV in Wichita. "I guess this is our sanction … and this may be small, but every small thing makes a difference."

In Oregon, the owner of a bar in Bend filmed himself pouring out all of his Russian vodka, according to FOX 12 of Portland. 

"Russia is acting as though it's 1939 and going into Europe with a full force that they have in the Ukraine," Bill McCormick, owner of Pine Tavern, told the station. "I am so concerned about it metastasizing into other countries." 

He said he stood to lose a few hundred dollars over the spilled vodka – but said the protest was worth it to him. 

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Bob Quay, owner of Bob’s Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told MLive.com he pulled several bottles off his shelf as a "protest against the aggression."

"I just made the decision on the spot," he told MLive.com. "It’s just something little we can do."