Gov. Janet Mills signed a proclamation Monday declaring Maine’s solidarity with Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and called on state regulators to delist all Russian-made spirits as soon as possible.
The largely symbolic move follows similar bans on Russian-made vodka and spirits in New Hampshire, Ohio, Utah and Pennsylvania and local stores already pulling the liquor from their shelves. Only two brands of Russian-made vodka are sold in Maine and neither is a major seller.
The State Liquor and Lottery Commission by statute must vote to delist a product, which would prevent any additional Russian-made spirits from going to Maine retail and restaurant shelves until further notice.
The Democratic governor also asked all Maine spirits retailers and restaurants to remove Russian-made spirits from their shelves.
“Maine stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in the face of this abhorrent, unprovoked assault on their country, their freedom, and their lives,” Mills said in a statement. “I ask Maine people to join with me in expressing our support for Ukraine, for its people, and especially for our fellow Mainers with Ukrainian roots.”
Maine controls spirit sales at the wholesale level. It does not own or operate retail liquor stores. State regulators cannot require the removal of spirits once they go to store shelves. Some Maine stores stopped selling Russian-made vodka before Mills’ statement came out.
Russian Standard and Hammer + Sickle are the only two Russian-made spirit brands sold in Maine. They include Russian Standard Original Russian Vodka, Russian Standard Gold Vodka, Russian Standard Platinum Vodka and Hammer + Sickle.
The governor’s move came after former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican running against Mills in 2022, issued a Monday statement calling for Mills to institute a ban on Russian-made vodka and spirits from Maine stores.
“It is a move which will signal our state’s resolve against Russian aggression. We should stand up and show support for Ukraine,” LePage said in a Monday statement.