Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday called on U.S. businesses still operating in Russia to leave it and help Ukraine rebuild its destroyed infrastructure.
In a live speech to the National Association of Manufacturers board, Zelensky said that American companies have an opportunity to “take on leadership positions both in the reconstruction of the Ukrainian economy and infrastructure” while also ensuring Moscow is punished for invading Ukraine.
“This confrontation is going on right now. And that is why right now we are calling on all businesses to come to Ukraine and to leave the Russian market,” Zelensky said.
“It is obvious that post-hostilities, reconstruction of Ukraine will give an extraordinary moral advantage to all businesses that will be in,” he added. “And it is also obvious that every business that is now helping the Russian tyranny in any way will not be able to avoid problems and their reputation crisis.”
Only a few dozen U.S. companies are still doing business as usual in Russia, while over 300 either temporarily suspended operations or left the country entirely, according to an analysis from the Yale University’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute.
U.S. sanctions have made it difficult for companies to do business in Russia, and corporations came under immense public pressure to leave the country following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion last February. Social media users last week accused Dutch brewing company Heineken of not leaving Russia fast enough.
Zelensky said that U.S. companies should invest in Ukraine now — while the war is still ongoing — to take advantage of opportunities in clean energy, oil refining and weapon manufacturing, and help the nation rebuild its destroyed residential buildings and social centers.
“All these are not just investment opportunities, not just industries and not just growth. This is a wide space for victories. Your victories, American business,” he said. “And I urge you to prepare for these victories now, to come to Ukraine now so that by the time we restore peace, your hard work has already yielded results.”
National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons told Zelensky that U.S. manufacturers “will be there” to help rebuild Ukraine when the war is over.