HELENA – Montana’s governor asked state agencies on Wednesday to review assets and operations for any that may benefit the Russian government or its war against Ukraine and to suggest ways to divest them.
“The state of Montana will not support Russia’s war against Ukraine through our assets or operations,” Gianforte wrote in a letter to agency directors. ”We will do all we can to remove any benefit that supports or advances Russia’s vicious war machine. Montana stands with Ukraine.”
The U.S. and its allies have enacted sanctions against Russia’s financial system and against President Vladimir Putin and Russian business oligarchs. Many other U.S. states are also looking to divest of investments tied to Russia.
Gianforte tweeted on Monday that the state was reviewing its holdings for any that may benefit Putin, the oligarchs and the war against Ukraine. Wednesday’s letter was a formal written request to agency directors.
The Montana Board of Investments — which oversees nearly $25 billion in assets held by the state’s pension funds, workers’ compensation funds and money held by schools, universities and local governments — has identified about $15 million in assets that are “tied to Russian interests,” Dan Villa, the board’s executive director, said Tuesday.
The board’s staff has spent several weeks reviewing assets in the Montana’s Unified Investment Program for any with potential economic exposure to Russia.
“We think it’s prudent to begin the process of exiting our Russian assets,” Villa told the Montana State News Bureau.
The board will also try to divest state holdings in other assets that could be affected by the economic fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Villa declined to put a timeline on the divestment plans, saying any immediate sales could result in substantial losses.
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