The former director of a top U.S. government sanctions office is leading a new Ukrainian government legal team, records show.
Why it matters: Ukraine’s new representatives, from the white-shoe firm Morrison & Foerster, show its U.S. advocacy remains heavily focused on sanctions policy as Washington pushes punitive measures against the Russian economy and individual Kremlin officials, including President Vladimir Putin.
- The firm is working on a pro-bono basis and agreed to pay all out-of-pocket costs, according to Foreign Agent Registration Act filings.
- Ukraine has seen a flood of K Street interest since Russia began its invasion.
- Morrison & Foerster did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
What’s happening: The firm has tasked five of its attorneys with advising President Volodomyr Zelensky’s office, according to FARA filings.
- Leading the team is John E. Smith, a partner at the firm and the former director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. It administers most U.S. sanctions.
- Smith, who served at OFAC until 2018, oversaw sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Crimea and Ukraine’s eastern territories in 2014.
- Morrison & Foerster Of Counsel Andrea Delisi, who served at OFAC until early 2021, is also working on the account.
- They anticipate “analyzing regulatory regimes, contextualizing new policies and actions, providing guidance on and assisting with U.S. government engagement, and updating advice in response to emerging conditions,” according to the filings.
Between the lines: Ukraine’s U.S. policy goals are reflected in some of the representatives it’s hired in Washington since the invasion.
- The country’s foreign affairs ministry recently enlisted the aid of a Maryland attorney to broker the sale and export of small arms to the country.
- Its United Nations mission engaged the firm SKDKnickerbocker to provide speechwriting services, but “elected not to have [the firm] engage in registrable activities on its behalf,” according to a FARA filing.