In 1995, not long after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the United States established the U.S. Russia Investment Fund to promote private investments in Russia’s economy. Most of the funding came from the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID.
“The U.S Russia Investment Fund was created to help build an open, transparent market-oriented economy in Russia, one that would support, not just the welfare of the Russian people, but also their dreams of a free society.” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power. “Since then, unfortunately, the Kremlin has thwarted those dreams, attacking civil society and independent media outlets, asserting state control over industries benefiting mainly a very closed and close circle to President Putin, and most horrifyingly invading its sovereign neighbor, Ukraine.”
With that in mind, it’s time to switch strategies, said Administrator Power. On February 1, she announced that $150 million of the money that had been frozen in the nearly dormant U.S. Russia Foundation, which succeeded the U.S. Russia Investment Fund, would be redirected to those resisting Moscow's aggression.
“The majority of the redirected funds, $135 million, will be administered by the Western New Independent States Enterprise Fund to support economic recovery in Ukraine and Moldova,” two countries that have shown remarkable resilience, said Administrator Power.
Putin’s attack on the Ukrainian people ravaged Ukraine’s economy. Moldova has also been severely impacted by the war on its eastern borders. It lost two of its most important export markets In Ukraine and Russia, and inflation has made a difficult situation, worse. Nonetheless, Moldova still hosts more Ukrainian refugees per capita than any other country.
“Immediate support to the private sectors in Ukraine and Moldova is critical to strengthening both countries as they defend themselves from Putin’s aggression,” said Administrator Power.
“Russians, too, had been forced to endure Putin's aggression and repressive policies in different ways,” she said. So the remaining $18 million will go to support those Russians who are fighting for a free Russia. The funding will support efforts to build up Russian civil society and independent media at this very difficult time, said Administrator Power.
“We know that freedom is a powerful force that has lifted up millions all around the world, and continues to animate Ukraine’s struggle, Moldova’s struggle. And that longing for freedom continues to beat in the hearts of so many Russians inside Russia and beyond.”