Several U.S. states have announced plans to sever or reconsider their financial ties to Russia, with moves ranging from outright divestment, as in the case of the Connecticut pension system, to restrictions on the sale of Russian vodka in Iowa and Ohio.
The rapid-fire decisions in state capitals, by both Republicans and Democrats, came as the Russian offensive in Ukraine continued to escalate. Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, told state agencies this week to end any agreements or operations that directly benefited Russian organizations. Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, a Republican, asked mayors to end sister city agreements with Russian cities, and encouraged the state’s retirement system and university endowments to divest from the country. Shawn T. Wooden, the Connecticut treasurer, said he would divest the roughly $218 million of the state’s retirement funds invested in Russia.
“I cannot continue to invest these pension funds in a way that runs counter to the foreign policy and national interests of the United States,” Mr. Wooden, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Similar moves to divest were announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York, a Democrat who issued an executive order on the issue, and by the Pennsylvania treasury. Other states were moving in a similar direction. Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana, a Republican, called for a review of state contracts and investments in Russia, and asked for public universities to disclose funding and research ties from the country. In North Dakota, a state investment board scheduled a meeting to discuss Russian holdings on Thursday.
The divestment wave has coincided with a dragnet of sanctions imposed by the U.S. government and its allies aimed at cutting off Russia from global banking and markets.
“We must do our part to limit the financial resources at Russia’s disposal to discourage these unprovoked and heinous acts of aggression,” said Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, a Republican whose state is home to many Ukrainian Americans.
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