Ukraine’s foreign minister accused French supermarket chain Auchan of being a “weapon of Russian aggression” on Friday after a joint investigation by France’s Le Monde, open source investigations outlet Bellingcat, and Russia’s The Insider, found that the chain had been providing supplies to Russian soldiers.
On Twitter, Dmytro Kuleba wrote that he intended to speak with his French counterpart about the revelations.
The investigation found that Auchan, and some Auchan managers, directly procured goods to send to Russia’s frontline soldiers. The supplies sent included cigarettes, men’s socks and shoes, and fresh bread, The Insider reported. Packages sent to Russian soldiers were marked with labels declaring they contained “humanitarian aid.”
After Russia’s invasion in early 2022, most companies opted to end their Russian operations and pulled out of the country. That was not the case for France’s Mulliez Group, which maintained the presence of its Auchan and Leroy Merlin brands in Russia.
The decision prompted backlash at the time from Ukrainian officials like Kuleba, who called for a boycott of Auchan, writing: “Apparently, job losses in Russia are more important than the loss of life in Ukraine. If Auchan ignores 139 Ukrainian children murdered during this month of Russian invasion, let us ignore Auchan and all their products.”
Auchan, operated by the Mulliez Group, is a multinational operation with a presence in several European countries and in parts of West Africa. Auchan is a mixed retailer, sometimes operating “hypermarkets” which sell everything from books to food.
In its company vision statement, Auchan writes that it wants to “change the lives of 8 billion people between now and 2025.”
The View From Auchan Ukraine
In a Facebook post, the Auchan’s Ukrainian operation wrote they were “shocked” by the investigation’s findings. “We urgently contacted the office in France. They deny this information. We await official communication,” the post said.