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Boycotting Russian vodka brands: How big of an impact does it have and on who?

Choosing to not serve vodka may be more of a symbolic move than anything else, experts say.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A number of bars in West Michigan aren't serving Russian vodka as a way to show their support for Ukraine—but before you go doing that, you may want to check where it's made.

Certain well-known vodka brands in the United States may have Russian names and roots, but Smirnoff, for example, has been made in America for nearly a century.

Choosing to not serve vodka may be more of a symbolic move than anything else.

Paul Isely, an Associate Dean and Economics Professor at Grand Valley State University, said there are about $41 million worth of sales of Russian vodka per year.

"That's really small compared to the $1.7 trillion economy in Russia, but for a company that can be very big so if we were to decrease the units sold, it would affect the profitability of those companies and affect their willingness to support [the conflict]," he said.

Isely says hurting the companies would unlikely influence Russian President Vladmir Putin or affect the country's economy.

Sanctions have a much larger impact. The ones currently in place are making it harder for Russia to move and spend money around the world. 

However, Isely says an argument could be made any small boycott helps show solidarity.

"Having this symbolism that says, yes, there's a large group of people who are supporting this by showing it and doing this type of thing," he said. "By boycotting a product, it can help show people across the world that the United States isn't divided by these types of things."

Isely expects the sanctions in place right now will put Russia into a recession in the next three months.

The US would see a 1-2% increase in the inflation rate. Prices will go up a little faster when in comes to fuel and costs for businesses will increase.

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