Indiana’s state government is selling off nearly $150 million of Russian-related investments as the governor said he’s looking at ways the state could help Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the Russian invasion of their country.
The divestment announcement came with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday visiting a refugee camp for hundreds of Ukrainians in Slovakia as he started a weeklong trade mission trip to that European NATO country and Israel.
Holcomb said he would talk with Slovakian officials about what assistance Indiana could provide. He said he’s open to Ukrainian refugees coming to Indiana, but federal leaders will decide whether to relocate Ukrainians to the United States.
“You have the whole world saying, ‘We want to help.’ And sometimes that can be overwhelming in and of itself,” Holcomb told The Times of Northwest Indiana in an online interview. “We’ve got to be focused on the need that’s right now and that’s on the ground, and that’s where we can help.”
The state’s divestment action comes after Holcomb ordered a review of state financial ties to Russia following last month’s invasion, with numerous states looking to take similar actions. The $147 million in Russian-linked investments is a small fraction of the $55 billion of investments overseen by the Indiana Public Retirement System.
The Republican governor earlier this month also signed into law a bill approved by state lawmakers blocking Russian-controlled businesses from acquiring property in Indiana for one year.
Holcomb said he was reminded of the importance of peace and security when he and his wife joined the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia in placing a wreath at the Gate of Freedom Memorial in the country’s capital of Bratislava. The memorial commemorates people who died trying to escape from behind the Iron Curtain between 1945 and 1989.
Holcomb said the U.S. and its allies must stand with Ukraine against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I think the sooner he leaves the international stage the better for humanity, and if he wants to put his people first he would do just that,” Holcomb said. “I don’t think we can believe anything Putin says. His actions prove he’s not trustworthy.”