OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday announced an effort to sever ties with Russian entities doing business with Washington state in protest of the invasion of Ukraine.

In a news conference that focused on the impending lift of the state’s COVID-19 mask requirements, the governor called the invasion of Ukraine an “outrageous foreign invasion.”

“We in some sense are all Ukrainians today,” Inslee said. “And we stand with those people in Russia who are protesting this vicious, malicious, totally unjustified act of violence.”

In response, the governor said he wants to identify any connections at Washington’s state agencies — business or otherwise — with Russian state institutions or significant companies. Once identified, he said the state intends to cancel those contracts.

The governor also urged private companies in Washington state to consider cutting ties with Russia. Any inconvenience from cutting those ties, Inslee said, should be weighed against the defense of a democratic nation and the possibility of heading off a wider conflict.

“I would say it’s going to be a lot worse for business if we end up in some type of armed conflict with Vladimir Putin,” Inslee said. “Because he doesn’t get the message that we are not going to let him go into Poland and Bulgaria and Hungary and Latvia and Estonia. He needs to get that message.”


It remains to be see what impact the governor’s directive may have. In an email, Inslee spokesperson Mike Faulk wrote that, “Our staff have been reaching out to agencies for fact finding.”

Officials are reviewing annual reports submitted by state agencies that detail all their contracts, according to Linda Kent, spokesperson for the state Department of Enterprise Services.

The agency “is currently working to analyze the contracts that were reported during the last contract reporting cycle (active contracts from July 2020 through June 2021), which includes DES agency contracts,” Kent wrote in an email. “DES is doing an analysis on statewide master contracts as well.”

Inslee’s remarks Monday meanwhile capped a swift and bipartisan response in Olympia to the attack against Ukraine. Over the weekend, Washington Senate lawmakers approved a budget amendment to earmark nearly $20 million in refugee aid for any Ukrainians who might come to Washington.

In a regularly scheduled news conference Monday morning, Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, said that move fits with Washington’s long bipartisan history of welcoming refugees to the state.

“We want to make sure we’re prepared to receive those refugees should that occur,” Braun said.


Inslee’s announcement Monday came as Democratic and Republican officials in state capitals across the nation move to cut ties with the Putin regime.

More about Russia’s war on Ukraine

On Sunday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order forbidding her state from doing business with Russia. She ordered state agencies to divest money and assets from companies or institutions aiding Russia in its war against Ukraine.

Pennsylvania lawmakers said Monday they will file legislation requiring state pension funds to pull investments connected to the Russian government and its critical supporters. The state Treasury Department also has begun divesting its minimal holdings in Russian-based companies.

Arkansas lawmakers have filed proposals authorizing banks in the state to freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs and to require a boycott of Russian-made goods. A bipartisan group of California lawmakers said Monday they also will introduce legislation to divest public money from Russian state entities.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday that he’s dissolving Maryland’s decades-old sister-state relationship with Russia’s Leningrad region after the invasion of Ukraine. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, asked the cities of Norfolk and Roanoke to end their sister-city partnerships with Russian cities.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, called for an end to its sister-state relationship with Stavropol Krai, Russia, and a strengthening of its sister-state relationship with Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.