Singaporeans snap up cheap Russian goods as Ukraine war anger ebbs

Heavily discounted Russian-made goods, from hair products to chocolate, are finding their way onto Singapore’s virtual supermarket shelves even as many countries – and companies – shun doing business with the nation following its invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

Visitors to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Singapore Lazada and Redmart sites can find several products originating from Russia, including 120 gram jars of salmon roe for S$11 (US$8) as well as 460ml bottles of hair conditioner for S$2.49.

On other Singapore grocery sites, similarly sized jars of roe range between S$15.90 to S$44. On Shopee, a subsidiary of Sea Ltd., the online shelves are stocked with bargain made-in-Russia waffle cakes and hazelnut milk chocolates.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

While several nations have import prohibitions on goods that have originated from Russia, Singapore’s sanctions are limited to fundraising activities that benefit the Russian government and exports from the city state that could directly contribute to the war effort. There isn’t any prohibition against selling Russian groceries on the island and globally there are no sanctions on Russian exports of food.

Based on the labels of the products bought by Bloomberg News, most appear to have been shipped from China. China has not imposed sanctions in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Representatives for Lazada and Shopee did not respond to requests for comment.

Globally, more than 1,000 multinational companies have publicly announced they’re voluntarily pulling away from Russia beyond the bare minimum legally required by international sanctions, according to the Yale School of Management.



Ukraine war two years on: disease, displacement and demands for aid

Ukraine war two years on: disease, displacement and demands for aid

Singapore has strongly condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and last year, then Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gravely violated the United Nations charter and international law. But as the war drags into its third year, any outpouring of anger may be ebbing.

“Singaporeans may be against the Russian invasion of Ukraine but they’re not against Russian goods,” Tommy Koh, ambassador-at-large at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said. “In Singapore, trade is our lifeblood. We trade with every country whether we like them or not.”

Sovan Patra, a senior lecturer at Singapore Management University’s School of Social Sciences, agreed that Singaporeans’ pragmatism is likely resulting in a distinction between a moral perspective on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the practical matter of purchasing Russian-origin goods.

Singaporeans aren’t “generally the kind of people who boycott,” he said.



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