Russia-Ukraine war has boosted US arms firms’ revenue, and acted as early Christmas for lobbying firms, individual lobbyists.
New Delhi: The incredible public relations and influence campaign launched by Ukraine, which has dwarfed any such efforts by Russia, can be attributed to people and corporations sitting in different places in the United States of America. The Russia-Ukraine war has not just increased the revenue of US arms and weapons manufacturing companies, but it has also come as an early Christmas for lobbying firms and individual lobbyists. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy seems to have gone on a lobbying shopping spree in the United States since Russia invaded in February 2022.
Since this period, he has engaged at least 12 lobbying firms and individuals in the US through various departments and his own advisors. The latest of such engagement is Group M Worldwide, which entered into an agreement with the government of Ukraine to increase economic development efforts in Ukraine. As per the agreement, Group M will use the services of the well-known advertising and public relations companies like Hill + Knowlton Strategies, Ogilvy and Hogarth Worldwide to help Ukraine.
One of many Zelenskyy’s advisors, Elena Lipkivska Ergul and Vadym Ivchenko, a Member of Parliament, has entered into separate contracts with Gas Lamp Market Services & Logistics Group with the objective to “engage public officials about future economic development efforts in Ukraine”.
In July, the Ukrainian president engaged the services of James Slattery, a former US politician, who now runs a lobbying firm. “Ridgely Walsh”, a public affairs advisory firm that joined the Ukrainian efforts in February only, has perhaps helped Zelenskyy the most. The said firm connected journalists from Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN, Reuters, Fortune, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Voice of America, New York Times, Guardian, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Financial Times, NBC news, National News, Defence One, Axios, AP, The Hill, PBS (News channel), Politico, Foreign Policy, Brookings Institute, CBS, BBC, MIT Technology Review, and many others, to Ukrainian officials in more than 420 instances for comments and inputs on story on the Ukrainian war.
Another individual who is helping the Ukrainian is Michael Babyak, who is working with the Ukraine minister of Digital Transformation in drafting content, giving public relations advice, arranging meeting with US officials and media representatives of Meta (formerly Facebook) to remove “Russian propaganda on social media platforms relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine”. Babyak is also working with representatives of the Republican National Committee (RNC) to encourage them to “contact Google to remove Russian propaganda on social media platforms relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine”. The Republican National Committee is a US political committee that assists the Republican Party of the United States.
Ukraine has also engaged Quantum Technologies Laboratories to seek assistance in the purchase of sophisticated encrypted messaging software and associated satellite transmission services. Another lobbying firm that is helping Ukraine in this endeavour is Crowell & Moring.
Navigators Global, a lobbying firm that is known for “solving legislative and regulatory challenges”, too, is working for the Ukraine government and one of its stated objectives is “establishing contact with the Biden administration”.
Morrison & Foerster, an international legal firm, which is co-headed by former Director of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), John Smith, has entered into an agreement with the Ukrainians on providing guidance on and assisting with US government engagement and other similar activities. Similarly, Your Global Strategy Inc, another advocacy firm, is advising and facilitating the outreach of Ukrainian interests in the US
Another such firm, Glassman Enterprises, a media and public affairs consulting services firm, is working on “exposing the ongoing theft of Ukrainian steel, grain and minerals by Russia, and to advocate for policies that will halt the trade in stolen Ukrainian steel, grain and minerals”.
Apart from organizations, which are charging thousands of dollars for their service, a few professionals, some of them working for free, are also helping the Ukraine government mount an information warfare of its own. Daniel Edward Rice, who is a professional education and doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, is serving as Special Advisor to Commander-in-Chief General Zaluzhnyi, providing guidance to Ukraine in support of its war fighting efforts. Rice is also expected to publish articles and engage in other media appearances to aid in civilian and military understanding of the combat leadership environment in Ukraine. Rice recently published an article, “The Untold Story of the Battle for Kyiv,” in Small Wars Journal which pushed the case for the US providing weapons systems, in large numbers, to Ukraine.
He also spoke at the Ukrainian Institute of America about the war in Ukraine. Rice was interviewed by Voice of America, which translated the interview into Russian and distributed it overseas in accordance with its mission.
Similarly, Patrick Pearsall is advising the Office of the President of Ukraine on analyzing international law, contextualizing new policies and actions in furtherance of possible remedies for harm under international law, providing guidance on and assisting with US government engagement, and updating advice in response to emerging conditions.
Cameron Hardesty is another individual who is serving as public relations counsel to the government of Ukraine. He is providing communications and public relations advice, drafting content for social media accounts of the Minister of Digital Transformation, and advising on messaging for communications with US business representatives, US media representatives, and US government officials. Hardesty also communicated with representatives of Meta (Facebook) and TikTok to remove Russian propaganda on social media platforms relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He also communicated with the Washington Post, Politico, and US government officials to generate attention for Russian propaganda on social media platforms regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
PLUS Communications, a Washington-based public relations firm, is working with “The Ukrainian Volunteer Journalists Initiative (UVJI)”, which is a volunteer-based news service, consisting exclusively of local people who research, fact-check, source and translate all the news from Ukraine. The UJI provides a daily summary of three main branches—military actions, civilians, and humanitarian efforts which is then disseminated across multiple fronts. Another individual lobbyist, John Edwin Morrison, is raising money and contacting legislators in the US to further Ukrainian interest. Similarly, Lukas Jan Kaczmarek, a lobbyist, is working to source an inventory of equipment needed by the Ukraine Ministry of Defense. In total, Ukraine-based government institutions and individuals have engaged 35 lobbying groups in the US.