Red Hat ends Russia business, evacuates Ukraine employees

Paul Cormier has been named CEO and President of Raleigh-based Red Hat.

Paul Cormier has been named CEO and President of Raleigh-based Red Hat.

Courtesy of Red Hat

Red Hat, the Raleigh-based open-source software company, said Tuesday it is halting all sales and services to companies in Russia and Belarus — a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has put Red Hat employees in a harm’s way.

Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s chief executive officer, announced the decision in an email to employees, saying: “As a company, we stand in unity with everyone affected by the violence and condemn the Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Red Hat’s announcement comes a day after its parent company, IBM, which also has a large presence in the Triangle, suspended all business operations in Russia.

“While relevant sanctions must guide many of our actions, we’ve taken additional measures as a company,” Cormier wrote. “Effective immediately, Red Hat is discontinuing sales and services in Russia and Belarus (for both organizations located in or headquartered in Russia or Belarus).”

Red Hat said it has approximately two dozen employees in Ukraine, which has become an important tech hub in Eastern Europe in recent years. It is home to tens of thousands of contractors and employees for US firms.

In his email, Cormier said that Red Hat has helped dozens of employees and family members in Ukraine relocate to safer locations. Many of them have gone to Poland, he noted.

However, Ukraine has barred men ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country, meaning many employees possibly can’t be relocated from the country. We “continue to help those who remain in the country in any way possible,” Cormier wrote.

To get workers out of Ukraine safely, Red Hat has organized several bus trips into Poland, according to the company. In one instance, a Red Hat employee in Poland drove several hours to pick up a colleague’s wife and child at the border and is sheltering them at their own home, Cormier noted.

“Thank you for showing compassion and concern for your colleagues, and for your patience and understanding as we work through this together,” Cormier said.

Many large US tech companies have also moved to cut off business in Russia, as financial sanctions continued to be applied to the country in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and PayPal have all halted sales and services there, Techcrunch reported.

Cary analytics company SAS Institute has also cut off sales and services to Russian companies, WRAL reported. SAS told WRAL that it has no employees in Ukraine.

This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate

This story was originally published March 8, 2022 12:55 PM.

Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.

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