Gov. Dunleavy directs state to take steps to divest from Russia

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks in a video response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address. On Thursday, Dunleavy announced a series of steps to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine. (Screen capture of Office of the Governor video)
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks in a video response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. On Thursday, Dunleavy announced a series of steps to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine. (Screen capture of an Office of the Governor video)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Thursday that the state will take steps to divest from Russia.

He also requested further actions from the federal government and Alaska businesses and individuals. 

“As a response to President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, we all need to do our part to support countries and people who believe in freedom,” he said in a statement.

Dunleavy directed state agencies to divest from Russian assets and called on state-owned corporations like the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation to divest as well. He said both should happen “if and when appropriate.”

Before Dunleavy’s announcement, permanent fund leaders said  that they’re closely monitoring Russia and Ukraine and analyzing how to respond. The permanent fund had roughly $160 million invested in Russia in January. 

Dunleavy also directed the administration to identify Russian products or contracts for services with Russian companies for the purpose of divesting from them. 

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Zack Fields is one of a number of legislators who have been calling on Dunleavy to take similar steps in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said the governor must follow through. 

“I think it shows that when people speak up, sometimes you force elected officials to listen,” he said.

Dunleavy, who is a Republican, called on Alaska businesses to divest from Russian companies and to stop selling Russian products. He also called on Alaskans not to purchase Russian products or services. He asked Alaska cities that have Russian sister cities to cut ties, and he asked universities to stop cultural exchange programs with Russia and to cut any contracts with Russian companies. 

Dunleavy said he would work with appropriate agencies to identify Alaska as a place of refuge for Ukrainians who pass background checks.

Dunleavy called on President Joe Biden to call a national energy emergency and expedite energy projects. Dunleavy encouraged Alaska resource development in a video response to Biden’s State of the Union address.

“We need to go all out at breakneck speed for all sources of energy to be developed,” he said.

He also called on the federal government to sanction purchases of Russian oil and seafood. Russia has banned American seafood since 2014.

The Alaska House Labor and Commerce Committee is working on a bill that committee members say will be aimed at ensuring that Russian oligarchs cannot hide their wealth in Alaska. 

Dunleavy said his decisions aren’t meant to hurt Alaskans of Russian background or to blame Russians who Putin is silencing for Putin’s actions.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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