Industry’s diverse response to Ukraine crisis


Safety, finance, condemnation and assistance – how is the infrastructure sector responding to Russia’s invasion? 

As much of the world reels from the awful events in Ukraine, diverse parts of the infrastructure are demonstrating diverse responses. 

Pulling out: AECOM and Stantec
AECOM announced this week that it is pulling out of Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine.

Speaking at their quarterly earnings call, Troy Rudd, AECOM’s chief executive officer said: “We support the people of Ukraine who are facing tremendous suffering as a result of Russia’s unlawful invasion. Russia’s actions are inconsistent with AECOM’s values and have compromised the business environment for AECOM, our clients and our joint activities in Russia.”

Of course, pulling out of a country has implications for a company’s people. Mr Russ explained: “For AECOM, the impact of these actions is particularly unfortunate for our colleagues from our Russia business and we have taken steps to provide them support during this transition. As always, our priority continues to be ensuring the safety, security and well-being of our teams throughout the region.”

Safety has been key to Stantec’s response too, though its action came sooner than most and, with no offices in Russia, its focus has been on Ukraine.

Stantec CEO Gord Johnson told his company’s earnings call that: “We did have an EU-funded project [in Ukraine], a development project that was ongoing. We withdrew our people from the Ukraine late last year and this year, as the temperature continued to increase in January, we met with our clients and we wrapped the project up.”

As a result he was able to report that “all of our people are out, all of our people are safe”.

Restricting finance: EBRD and JP Morgan
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD) board of directors has voted to approve action against Russia and Belarus following the invasion.  

That action would suspend Russia and Belarus from access to EBRD finance under Article 8.3 of its constitution, effectively suspending membership of the EBRD for both countries.

JP Morgan, meanwhile, is looking into action on private investors buying Russian debt.

Sanctions and the economic crisis in Russia have seen Russian debt fall in value to almost ‘junk’ status, and some investors have been quick to use JP Morgan’s indexes – the largest in the world for emerging market bonds – to buy up what may prove to be cheap assets if Russia and its companies recover. This comes as major infrastructure owners struggle to survive major damage like Germany’s move against Nord Stream 2

It has emerged through Reuters that JP Morgan is looking into action to stop even this aspect to financing. It is polling investors on the blocking Russian debt from its trading platforms – an almost unprecedented measure that would further limit Russia and Russia’s firms from accessing global finance.

Supporting Ukrainians: EBRD and RedR
Along with restricting finance to Russia and Belarus, the EBRD reported quickly that it would support Ukraine and Ukrainians through the crisis.

President Odile Renaud-Basso said in a statement that: “The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development condemns the Russian-led invasion of Ukrainian territory. This morning I have told the Ukrainian authorities that they have the bank’s unwavering support. My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, with our business partners in the country, and, of course, the many staff we employ there.”

The bank has also announced that it is working with partners to provide financial and other support to the region, including for refugees in neighbouring countries.

Money is important, but so is specialist expertise. So RedR – the engineering humanitarian charity – launched an appeal dedicated to Ukraine.

RedR has almost 2,000 members – primarily engineers – who either go to disaster zones or train aid workers to secure or re-establish basic energy and water needs on the ground. 

You can find RedR’s appeal and donate or volunteer at: Humanitarian training and support for NGOs and aid workers worldwide – RedR