Politics

Gov. Scott asks Legislature to fund humanitarian aid for Ukraine

Gov. Phil Scott speaks during a press conference on Sept. 8. File photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Gov. Phil Scott issued an executive order Thursday asking the Legislature to appropriate $643,077 — or $1 for every Vermonter — to go to humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

He also asked the Legislature to appropriate all proceeds from the sale of Russian vodka collected by the Department of Liquor and Lottery from Feb. 24 to Feb. 28 — from when Russia invaded Ukraine to when Scott ordered all Russian goods pulled from the shelves of Vermont802 stores — to humanitarian relief for Ukraine. 

The governor said at his weekly press conference Thursday that about $13,000 worth of Russian vodka was on shelves at state agency liquor stores, bottles the governor said the state owns. He said they would be returned to a warehouse. 

“I know there is little Vermont, 4,500 miles away from Kyiv, can do or say to impact the horror that has been unleashed against the people of Ukraine by the regime in Moscow, but we must be ready to assist, provide humanitarian aid and stand firmly and resolutely with our Allies against this brazen attempt to weaken democracy everywhere,” Scott said in his executive order.

Legislative leaders expressed support for funding humanitarian relief for Ukraine.

“We have had conversations with other legislative leaders, and we are united in both chambers to take immediate legislative action and get humanitarian aid out the door as soon as we return next week,” House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint said in a joint statement. 

In his executive order, Scott directed all state agencies to review contracts for any purchases from Russia and, if any are found, to terminate those contracts. 

In 2020, Russia was the 11th highest source of imports into Vermont, and at the time, imports from Russia were increasing. In 2020, Russia was the biggest source of rubber and rubber products imported into Vermont. That year, Vermont imported $15.7 million worth of rubber and rubber products from Russia, according to an analysis by stacker.com.

In 2021, Russia was the 35th-biggest market for Vermont exports, accounting for $3.7 million of Vermont’s total exports of $2.6 billion, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by WISERTrade. Optical, photo, medical or surgical instruments accounted for $2.4 million of the exports, followed by $351,000 in aircraft, spacecraft and parts, and $312,000 in industrial machinery, including computers. 

Scott said in his executive order that Vermont is ready to accept Ukrainian refugees. 

In the same order, Scott said the state treasurer has directed a review of investments in Russian bonds, and the Vermont Pension Investment Committee is working with investment managers to sell any Russian bonds. 

Scott also rescinded a 1991 executive order signed by then-Gov. Madeleine Kunin that established a sister relationship with the Russian Republic of Karelia that he said has been dormant for many years. 

Scott also called on any Vermont municipality with a sister city or town agreement with any municipality in Russia to break or suspend that agreement. 

Burlington is a sister city with Yaroslavl, Russia, and online sources indicate that is Vermont’s only sister-city relationship in Russia.

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Fred Thys

About Fred

Fred Thys covers business and the economy for VTDigger. He is originally from Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Williams College with a degree in political science. He is the recipient of the Radio, Television, and Digital News Association's Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting and for Enterprise Reporting. Fred has worked at The Journal of Commerce, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News, and WBUR, and has written for Le Matin, The Dallas Morning News, and The American Homefront Project.

Email: [email protected]

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