Our Voices

RFK Compass Investors Panel discusses how to rebuild Ukraine, today

More than a year into Russia’s war against Ukraine, daily bombings are commonplace.

So is the Ukrainian people’s indomitable spirit.

But this ongoing war must not be viewed passively, as something that’s happening far away, members of one of Tuesday’s first panels at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Compass Summer Investors Conference panels urged.

“The actions we take now will have implications for the freedom or oppression of our grandchildren for generations to come,” Former First Lady of Ukraine Kateryna Yushchenko said. “When you see something happening overseas, often there’s a feeling there’s nothing to do about it. But that’s not true. Invest in Ukraine.”

Joining Yushchenko on the panel at the Chatham Bars Inn were Kerry Kennedy, President of RFK Human Rights; Natalie Jaresko, Managing Director at Turnaround and Restructuring Strategy, EY-Parthenon and Former Ukraine Minister of Finance; William “Bill” Taylor, Former United States Ambassador to Ukraine; and Lenna Koszarny, Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Capital.

Taylor, Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, echoed Yushchenko: The outcome of this ongoing war has “implications for everyone living in this world, particularly those closest to the Russians. If (the world) sees that Putin can get away with this, what’s the stop point? The answer right now is Ukraine. Ukraine is stopping. That’s what’s going on right now.”

Jaresko, who served as Ukraine’s Minister of Finance from 2014 to 2016, noted that the Ukrainian government, despite tremendous hardships, is functioning efficiently, providing civil service salaries and government services.

“What I want to share with you is not just military strength, but a resilient economy that’s been through some extraordinary times. That provides key government services that keep a country functioning.”

Koszarny’s Horizon Capital, the leading investment firm in Ukraine with $1.2 billion in assets under management, backed by more than 40 institutional investors with a capital base exceeding $570 billion, stressed the importance of building a network for Ukraine’s rebuilding today.

“We must be a part of history. Part of the solution,” she said. “If you come to Kyiv, you’ll notice everyone is doing everything they can to move things forward.That’s the story that doesn’t get told. It’s important to those entrepreneurs that we help Ukraine help themselves. On the capital side, it’s not the number one place that investors want to risk their capital. But the country needs to continue to be resilient – to keep the economy going. The private sector is incredibly important.”

What’s equally important for investors, Taylor noted, is to “dump Russia.”

And Russia wasn’t a smart investment even before its war with Ukraine, Jaresko explained.

“There are United Nations’ Human Rights principles for business guidance,” she said. “Even before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia would not have been a place you should have invested.

The rule of law and faith in contracts and faith in intellectual property rights are the very basis for the confidence you have to make investments. Russia has never enjoyed those securities.”

In order for Ukraine to truly start rebuilding, “we have to cut off Russia’s finances from the west,” Yushchenko said.

Kennedy underscored the importance of prosecuting Russia for the War Crime of Aggression, which she called “the poisonous tree from which all other crimes against humanity flow.”

RFK Human Rights has been vocal on the subject in recent months, working with Taylor, Yuschenko, members of Congress and others on the issue.

The RFK Summer Compass Investors Conference continues through Thursday in Chatham and Hyannis Port.