CA Gov. Newsom directs state agencies to comply with sanctions on Russia

Lisi Ludwig/Senior Staff
Members of the Berkeley community respond to California Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order regarding sanctions imposed on Russia due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Friday directing state agencies and businesses to comply with economic sanctions on Russia.

According to a press release from Newsom, state agencies and businesses are being guided to halt new investments, transactions and contracts with Russian entities in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Additionally, Newsom requires agencies to take actions in support of Ukraine, and urges businesses and nongovernmental organizations to do the same.

“California stands with Ukraine and the Ukrainian community in California — one of the largest in the country,” Newsom said in the press release. “Our state shares many close ties with Ukraine and will continue our efforts to support the nation’s brave fight for the fundamental rights and freedoms of its people.”

Alex Knox, executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District, said the sanctions will likely not have a great effect on businesses in Berkeley.

However, some of these businesses have expressed their stance on Newsom’s executive order, as well as how similar economic sanctions have impacted them in the past.

According to Alan Townsend, assistant store manager of University Press Books, the company lists its stock with online booksellers that could receive orders from Russia.

“We’d lean against supplying goods to Putin … while he attempts to obliterate Ukraine,” Townsend said in an email. “I expect the side effects of sanctions will hurt our business. That said, we have ridden out previous recessions because scholarship continues despite them.”

Newsom’s office spokesperson Alex Stack noted that most businesses seem to be supportive of the new sanctions.

Robert Van Houweling, UC Berkeley associate political science professor, also said that since many people are paying attention to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the sanctions will likely be supported statewide.

“The political cause of Ukraine in the current circumstances has a lot of support in the United States,” Van Houweling said. “In that sense, (Newsom) might also be able to gather some support with people who might otherwise not be interested in the issue.”

Van Houweling also suggested the executive order might change the way state agencies and businesses handle contracting practices.

The new economic sanctions come after a letter from Newsom, which calls on the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the University of California retirement system to restrict Russian access to new investments.

In a response issued March 2, CalPERS expressed its support for Newsom’s letter and outlined actions it has taken in solidarity with Ukraine.

“We have an obligation to address Russia’s aggression, support Ukraine, and protect our members’ assets,” the CalPERS statement said. “The actions of Russia have left an indelible mark on the world and have created instability in the global financial markets.”

Contact Olivia Branan at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @BrananOlivia.