OLYMPIA — Washington’s public officials are moving to cut ties between state government and Russian institutions after the invasion of Ukraine — but there may not be much to cut.

In a statement Friday, the Washington State Investment Board announced plans to rid itself of roughly $100 million in assets linked to Russia, saying the agency was “appalled by the unjustified military assault on Ukraine, and … dismayed by the human tragedy of this conflict.”

The announcement came about the same time as Gov. Jay Inslee gave more details about his directive to cut any ties between state agencies and Russian institutions, and said he was looking into providing humanitarian relief to Ukraine and refugees.

In a question-and-answer session with reporters after a bill-signing event, Inslee said he’s had talks with members of the Ukrainian community in Washington to explore ways to help.

“We’re also having conversations with our airline partners in our state about ways to actually deliver physical help to Ukraine and to the refugees who are now in other countries,” Inslee said. “I don’t have more details today, but we’re moving as fast as we can in this direction.”

Asked about the remarks, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines wrote in an email that, “We are working with the governor’s office and don’t have details to share at this time.”


The governor encouraged people who want to help to go to the website of the Ukrainian Association of Washington State.

The $100 million targeted by the investment board represents less than 0.10% of its full portfolio, according to its statement. Among other duties, the board handles investments for a slew of public retirement plans, including for firefighters, law enforcement officers, teachers and school employees, judges and other government workers.

“Our investment exposure to Russian companies is extremely limited due to our longstanding skepticism toward Russia as an investment market,” according to the statement. “Our total investment exposure to Russia is small, and we are not invested directly in any Russian banks, companies or real estate.”

That $100 million is limited to stocks “involving a global index fund and a few active public equity managers,” according to Chris Phillips, the board’s director of institutional relations and public affairs.

“Best to describe it as a very small element in the retirement plan program and other funds where some global stock exposure is used,” Phillips wrote in an email.

Inslee on Friday also released his directive intended to sever ties between Washington state agencies and Russian institutions.


The directive requires state agencies to conduct an initial review to identify any “commercial or other contracts, investments, and relationships with connections to Russian institutions or large companies” and provide findings to the governor’s office by March 18.

Those contracts may still require further investigation to see if the state should sever them, according to the directive, and “No action to terminate a contract or investment may occur without the express approval of the Governor’s Office.”

Inslee on Friday acknowledged there may not be much to cut off. While the state is just beginning its review, Inslee said, “this is not going to be monumental and will not single-handedly bring Vladimir Putin to his senses on this.

“But it is another brick in the wall,” he said. “And I believe everybody in the world today who values democracy and understands the long-term security threats of yielding to his madness will put their bricks in the wall, too.”

GOP Reps. Drew Stokesbary, of Auburn, and Drew MacEwen, of Union, this week also introduced House Bill 2135, which would require state agencies and authorities to divest themselves of public funds linked to Russia.