Four major consulting firms, including Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC, have announced plans to close operations in Russia and Belarus.

The move comes amid sharp criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The action from the consultancy firms will have a significant impact on Russia and Belarus. KPMG employs more than 4,500 people in the region, Deloitte 3,000, EY 4,700 and PwC 3,700.

KPMG, PwC and EY are global networks of individual firms that are separate legal entities. The structure is built in this manner in a bid to comply with the law that requires audit firms to be locally owned and independent.

As the companies are locally owned, the operation in the region will not be completely closed to employees.

Instead, it means that consulting firms will be legally separated from their respective firms “corporate structures, creating separate entities in Russia and Belarus.

While PwC withdrew from the region, the company said its main focus going forward will be “to help our Ukrainian colleagues and support the humanitarian efforts to aid the people of Ukraine.”