Ukrainian economy is ‘suffering’ amid Russian war threat, says British investor

Daniel Williams invests in four businesses across Ukraine and said his projects are “completely out the window” as Russian-Ukrainian tensions mount.

Lily Ford
Wednesday 26 January 2022 15:16
Daniel Williams grew up in the Isle of Wight and now invests in four businesses across Ukraine (Daniel Williams/PA)
Daniel Williams grew up in the Isle of Wight and now invests in four businesses across Ukraine (Daniel Williams/PA)

A British investor in Ukrainian businesses said the economy is “the thing really seeing an effect” and “suffering” as the prospect of a Russian invasion looms.

Russian troops have been stationed at the countries’ shared border and intense diplomatic activity has failed to ease tensions.

Daniel Williams, originally from the Isle of Wight and now based in Kyiv is owner of Green 5 Ventures and said many of his larger projects are “completely out the window,” though he isn’t seeing “panic” in daily life.

The 45-year-old told the PA news agency: “There’s not a mass exodus of people, there’s not mass panic in the streets… people in daily life aren’t doing much different – the economy is the thing that’s really seeing an effect here.

“If the Russians invade then the economy becomes less of a priority, but that’s the one thing that’s suffering… the larger infrastructure projects that we (are) involved in as minority partners – those are completely out the window right now.

“I was on a conference call with the American Debt Capital Markets (DCM) and they said they have 600-700 million dollars (£444 million-£518 million) in loans that they were going to give to Ukrainian companies, and that’s just entirely on hold.”

Daniel Williams is owner of Green 5 Ventures, based in Kyiv (Daniel Williams)

In an article written for Ukraine’s English-language newspaper the Kyiv Post, economist Pavlo Kukhta warned that the prospect of military conflict would lead to the loss of foreign investment – a damning development for the country’s economic future and currency, the hryvnia.

Mr Williams is an investor in four eco-friendly businesses across Ukraine and said that, as a business owner, “the one thing you hate is uncertainty”.

“If we knew what was going to happen, that would be one thing, but not knowing is even worse,” he said.

“The fact that there’s so much uncertainty is what makes making any planning decisions impossible, (and) nobody really knows that.”

Mr Williams acknowledged the normality of daily life in the country’s capital but said he is monitoring concern amongst his staff.

“There is a generational thing,” he said. “The younger people tend to speak Ukrainian and the older people Russian… so people in their 20s have only known Ukraine, whereas people in their 30s and have older parents tend to be more pro-Russian.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said the UK is not ruling out support for personal sanctions against President Vladimir Putin in the event of a Russian incursion into Ukraine (PA)

“Among the younger people, yes, there is a tension… and as an owner, as a boss, that is definitely something I’m trying to monitor (but) the older people are less concerned.”

The business owner added it “would be silly” not to have a plan in place to leave Ukraine.

He said: “(But) it’s not just whether or not Russia invades… what happens in both situations is whether life in Kyiv is tenable to continue, so on a personal level we definitely have a ‘get out’ plan.”

Mr Williams said he has also noticed that, while people in Ukraine are seemingly relaxed about the circumstances, they “aren’t making any big investments”.

They're not buying a new TV - (people are) not buying anything they can't take with them in a pinch.

Daniel Williams, who invests in Ukrainian businesses and lives in Kyiv

“I think people who are saying, ‘It’s no big deal,’… people say that, if you ask them.

“But, not on the record, over a coffee (they will say), ‘Yeah, I’ve got a bag packed,’ or, ‘Well, I did talk to my brother or mum or whatever and told her I might need a place to crash on short notice'”.

“They’re not buying a car, they’re not buying a new TV – not buying anything they can’t take with them in a pinch… so that is the more subtle narrative here.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK is not ruling out support for personal sanctions against President Vladimir Putin in the event of a Russian incursion into Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said Britain is prepared to deploy troops to protect Nato allies in Europe should Russia invade, as he warned Vladimir Putin faces “ferocious” Ukrainian resistance.

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