New Jersey city votes to halt licenses of gas stations tied to Russia's Lukoil

March 3 (Reuters) - Reflecting growing animosity across the United States toward Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, lawmakers in New Jersey’s largest city have voted to suspend the licenses of gas stations branded with the name of a major oil company based in Moscow.

The Newark City Council passed a resolution 8-0 on Wednesday urging the city to suspend all licenses of two local Lukoil gasoline stations to show support for Ukraine.

“This is a step on the city side to do what the rest of the world is doing to impose some pressure on Russia to stop this horrific invasion,” said Council Member Anibal Ramos, who represents a part of Newark where many Ukrainian-Americans live.

Ramos said the city’s business administrator will make the final decision on the resolution.

The measure comes as a flood of Western businesses cut ties with Russian entities while Washington imposes various sanctions against Russia.

It is unclear how the resolution may affect Moscow-based Lukoil, among the world’s largest oil producers. There are 230 U.S. franchises of Lukoil North America, a company subsidiary. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania stations are owned by franchisees.

Newark franchisee Roger Verma said on Wednesday he supports Ukraine, but a suspension would cripple his business, which employs 16 workers.

“I am baffled and confused how shutting down an American-based small business owner is sending a message to support,” Verma said.

#BoycottLukoil was used on Twitter to urge Americans to stop patronizing the gas stations.

“We’re not going to help finance the war machine,” said retired information technology specialist Jeffrey Andrew of Maplewood, New Jersey, after protesting at a Lukoil station in nearby Union, New Jersey.

Company officials were not available for comment. The board of Lukoil in Russia on Thursday called for the war to end, media reported. (Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Barbara Goldberg in Maplewood, New Jersey; editing by Jonathan Oatis)