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North Carolina to end sales of Russian vodka at liquor stores per executive order

At Monday's Charlotte City Council meeting, Mayor Lyles offered support to Ukraine, saying council will vote to sever its relationship with its Russian sister city.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced actions Monday intended to "terminate any agreements or operations that directly benefit Russian entities" because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Cooper's office said in a released statement.

The North Carolina ABC Commission, which operates liquor stores statewide, is being ordered to "review its list of approved products for any produced by Russian Entities and to suspend the approval of such products as quickly as practicable."

“The invasion of Ukraine is an attack on a free people. This order sends a strong message and helps ensure no public dollars or operations from North Carolina will benefit Russia and its unjustified aggression,” Cooper said in a statement. “Our state stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they fight courageously against a tyrant to defend their country, their democracy and their freedom.”

Three alcohol brands, Hammer & Sickle, Beluga, and Russian Standard, are anticipated to be impacted by the ban.

The governor's order also orders the Department of Administration, which oversees state purchases and contracts, to terminate any contracts with Russian entities.

Ukrainians who now call North Carolina home say this decision may seem small to some, but it means a whole lot to not support products that directly benefit Russia.

“I check every product, every item and I don’t want to support with my money this army that can kill my people, kill my relatives, my friends," Anastasiia Derendeiva said.

North Carolina state senator Michael Garrett, of Guilford County, was among those calling for the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to stop the sales of Russian-made alcohol.

In the letter to the ABC Board, Garrett said he has been completely "appalled by the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine" and said he had been searching for ways that our state government can take a stand.

“I think this step while I acknowledge is small and for the most part symbolic I think symbolism matters," Garrett said. "It matters for the people of North Carolina to show what side we’re on.”

At Monday night's Charlotte City Council meeting, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said she stands with the people of Ukraine, condemning the Russian invasion and offering support to Ukrainians. 

The city has had ties to the Russian sister city for decades but the cities have not interacted in years. At the city council's next business meeting, it will vote to officially sever the city's relationship with its Russian sister city.

In neighboring Indian Land, South Carolina, one independent liquor store, Southern Spirits, had already decided it was going to stop future orders of Russian vodka. It replaced the items on the shelves with Ukrainian vodka Kozak.

“It’s selling out a lot faster than we thought,’’ general manager Drew Podrebarac said. “It’s been awesome.’’

RELATED: South Carolina liquor store among businesses snubbing Russian vodka in protest

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine directed the state's Commerce Department to cease the purchase and sale of Russian Standard, the only Russian vodka sold in Ohio (under the brand names Green Mark and Russian Standard). New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed an executive order requiring state liquor outlets to remove Russian-made and branded alcohol, as did Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

As Russia pushes ahead with its offensive in Ukraine, the West is working to equip the outnumbered Ukrainian forces with weapons and ammunition while punishing Russia with far-reaching sanctions intended to further isolate Moscow.

The U.S. pledged an additional $350 million in military assistance to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, body armor and small arms. Germany said it would send missiles and anti-tank weapons to the besieged country and that it would close its airspace to Russian planes.

The U.S., European Union and United Kingdom agreed to block “selected” Russian banks from the SWIFT global financial messaging system, which moves money around more than 11,000 banks and other financial institutions worldwide, part of a new round of sanctions aiming to impose a severe cost on Moscow for the invasion. They also agreed to impose ”restrictive measures” on Russia’s central bank.

 Putin sent troops into Ukraine after denying for weeks that he intended to do so, all the while building up a force of almost 200,000 troops along the countries’ borders. He claims the West has failed to take seriously Russia’s security concerns about NATO, the Western military alliance that Ukraine aspires to join. But he has also expressed scorn about Ukraine’s right to exist as an independent state. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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