Stolichnaya Vodka Rebranded as Stoli in Support of Ukraine: 'This Is Very Personal to Us'

"More than anything, I wish for Stoli to represent peace in Europe and solidarity with Ukraine," said Yuri Shefler, founder of the Stoli Group

Stoli vodka
Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Popular vodka brand Stolichnaya Vodka is changing its name to Stoli in the wake of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Stoli Group announced on Friday.

In a news release, the company — which is not manufactured in Russia — stated there are three main reasons for selling and marketing the vodka as Stoli moving forward that include the company's employees eagerness to help, founder's feelings on the Russian government led by President Vladimir Putin, and interest in accurately representing the Stoli Group's roots in the European nation Latvia.

"While I have been exiled from Russia since 2000 due to my opposition to Putin, I have remained proud of the Stolichnaya brand," said Yuri Shefler, founder of the Stoli Group per the news release. "Today, we have made the decision to rebrand entirely as the name no longer represents our organization. More than anything, I wish for Stoli to represent peace in Europe and solidarity with Ukraine."

The company's production facilities are located in Latvia.

"This is very personal to us. As a former Royal Marine Commando, I know all too well the horrors of war," added Damian McKinney, Global CEO, Stoli Group. "We have employees, partners and distributors in the region directly impacted. They are asking that we take a bold stand. This is one actionable, meaningful thing we can do to make it clear that we support Ukraine."

Ukraine War
A woman cries after not being able to board an evacuation train that departed on March 4 in Ukraine carrying women and children that fled fighting in Bucha and Irpin. Chris McGrath/Getty

Details of the fighting in Ukraine change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded — including children, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenska has been highlighting.

More than a million Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.

The invasion, ordered by Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.

McDonald's, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi have all suspended sales in Russia.

With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance. Zelenskyy called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back.

Putin, 69, insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy, 44, vowed not to bend.

"Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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