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IBM Fires Entire Workforce in Russia During Final Exit From Country

"Our colleagues in Russia have endured months of stress and uncertainty," IBM's CEO told staff before he "separated" those colleagues.

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Photo: Matthias Schrader (AP)

IBM is laying off its entire staff in Russia after suspending operations there in March, according to an internal memo made public on Tuesday. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna says the tech company is leaving the country after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, a war that’s still raging today with no end in sight. “Several hundred” people are expected to lose their jobs, according to IBM.

“We chose to suspend operations so that we could evaluate longer-term options while continuing to pay and provide for our employees in Russia. As the consequences of the war continue to mount and uncertainty about its long-term ramifications grows, we have now made the decision to carry out an orderly wind-down of IBM’s business in Russia. We see this move as both right and necessary, and a natural next step following our business suspension,” Krishna said in the memo.


The internal memo was sent to staff on May 30 but was only made public on Tuesday. Krishna was quick to note that its workforce in the country did nothing wrong, though the CEO used awkwardly euphemistic language to describe laying off so many people: Krishna called it a “separation.”

“This process will commence today and result in the separation of our local workforce. Our colleagues in Russia have, through no fault of their own, endured months of stress and uncertainty. We recognize that this news is difficult, and I want to assure them that IBM will continue to stand by them and take all reasonable steps to provide support and make their transition as orderly as possible,” Krishna wrote.


The war in Ukraine has officially seen 3,381 civilians killed and 3,680 injured, according to the United Nations, though the real death toll is believed to be much higher. Over 4.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the start of the war and are currently in Europe, according to the latest figures from the United Nations. IBM notes that its employees has donated almost $2 million to the International Red Cross in response to the crisis.

“I would also like to again thank IBMers everywhere for all you have done to help our company, clients and communities navigate this crisis. Your spirit and generosity have made a difference, and you need look no further for evidence than the nearly $2 million in donations that have been made to the International Red Cross thanks to your individual gifts,” Krishna continued.

“We remain united in our hope for an end to this war and the restoration of peace.”

Correction: This article originally stated about 1,000 people were expected to lose their jobs in Russia, citing a Reuters report. IBM would not provide a specific number but said it was actually “several hundred.” Gizmodo regrets the error.