Philippe Krakowsky
Philippe Krakowsky

Interpublic is suspending operations in Russia and leaving enough capital to pay its 200 staffers their salaries for the next six months, according to a March 14 memo from CEO Philippe Krakowsky.

The IPG wind-down of operations is due to Russia’s “unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

Krakowksy had hoped for successful ceasefire talks, but “recent and escalating attacks on civilian targets, including hospitals, make it regrettably clear that the trajectory of the conflict is escalating, and the war could well go on for some time.”

He believes the tragic situation in Ukraine “will re-shape the international order globally, with lasting consequences for Europe and have a ripple effect on political alignments all the way to Asia. It will also likely reverberate in countries across the globe where political or public figures have in recent years allied themselves with the Russian regime.”

Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun announced March 15 that ownership of its 1,200 strong Russian operation has been transferred to local management.

“Since the start of the invasion, we have been working on exiting Russia as we strongly condemn the unilateral aggression against Ukraine,” he said. “We were committed to taking strong actions that fully respond to the gravity of the situation.”

Publicis is in daily contract with its 350 employees in Ukraine and is doing everything to protect them. It is providing security alert systems, psychological and mental health support, help with visas, and guaranteeing salaries for everyone for the entire year.

Sadoun promised the French shop would continue to stand by the side of its Ukrainian team and "be exhaustive in the solutions we bring and immediate aid we provide."

The Man Who Would KingThe Atlantic devotes 24 pages of the 98-page April issue to a profile of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman who will soon oversee the world’s largest accessible oil supplies and lead a nation that is a source of many of America’s headaches.

The article is a must-read.

The murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, which the CIA says was ordered by MBS, “fixed a view of the crown prince as brutish, thin-skinned and psychopathic,” according to the magazine.

MBS denies putting a hit on Khashoggi because he wasn’t important enough to kill.

He told the Atlantic that he never read anything written by Khasghoggi and that if he wanted to send an assassination team he would have sent a more competent group.

“If that’s the way we did things, Khashoggi would not be among the top 1,000 people on the list. If you're going to go for another operation like that, for another person, it’s got to be professional and it’s got to be one of the top 1,000,” said MBS, who called the Khashoggi killing a “huge mistake.”

The crown prince “has created a climate of fear unprecedented in Saudi history,” where critics put themselves in danger for criticizing the ruler or paying a compliment to his enemies.

The Atlantic credits MBS for “transforming one of the world’s weirdest countries into a place that could plausibly be called normal.”

MBS has all but abolished the religious police, allowed women to drive and dress as freely as they like, opened the Kingdom to investment and legalized cinemas and concerts.

King Mohammed could rule Saudi Arabia for 50 years.

The US is going to have to figure out how to live with him, especially now that he has made overtures to China.

The Wall Street Journal reported March 14 that Saudi Arabia may cut a deal with China to be paid for oil in yuan rather than US dollars due to its tension with Washington.

It's time to get to work, Joe.