NYS cuts off Russian business amid Ukraine invasion


Gov. Kathy Hochul | flickr.com

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order on Feb. 27 to halt business between the state and Russia in light of the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.

The executive order declares that the state will not provide investments, direct or not, to Russia based businesses or companies that are supporting the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Any contracts signed by either kind of organization will be terminated.

Russia has chosen to attack democracy and we will stand with Ukraine as we condemn these atrocities, Hochul said in a press release. Our state will not permit its own investment activity, whether directly or indirectly, to aid Russia as it commits these human rights violations.”

Other state politicians, such as Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, are also calling for more action, referring to property owned by Russian oligarchs in the state.

For years Manhattan has been one of the most popular safe harbors for Russian oligarchs to park their cash, especially via ultra-high end apartments, Levine said in a tweet. It’s time to start seizing their properties.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander called for the divestment of Russian assets from the city’s public pension fund. The assets hold a collective $271 million.

Russia’s actions remind us that one of the best ways to curtail the power of authoritarian petrostate leaders is to reduce our global reliance on the oil and gas industry, Lander said in a statement. To that end, I am proud to reaffirm that the decisions of three of the five NYC pension funds to divest from fossil fuels, including top Russian oil companies, were wise actions to advance a healthier and safer planet.”

In addition to announcing the divestments, Hochul also warned businesses in the state to be on heightened watch for Russian cyberattacks.

First time in our nation that there’s been this level of coordination between the state and local governments, Hochul said in a Feb. 24 address. “And we also are putting money behind those efforts in our budget to beef up our own defenses, but also to make money available to localities to be able to deal with this.

Hochul joins states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut in the move to cut business with Russia. These states are joining in on the nation’s larger response to Russia’s invasion as President Joe Biden announced sanctions against Russia, including on its central bank.

Some governors are also calling on a boycott of Russian products, including vodka brands manufactured in Russia.

In gross domestic product, New York ranks high as number 10 in the world, which is higher than Russia.

“I’m not going to squander the fact that the state of New York has a larger economy than Russia, and what we do will hopefully have an impact collectively with what President Biden’s doing,” Hochul said.

State landmarks were lit in blue and yellow for the Ukrainian flag during the weekend of Feb. 25 to show New Yorkers’ support for Ukrainian citizens.

“New York is home to the largest population of Ukrainians in the United States – they are our family and an attack on them is an attack on us all,” Hochul said. “We will make our statements and values known and show solidarity with Ukraine as we rebuke this assault on democracy.”