Ukraine: What Comes Next?

FGH Berlin-based Consulting Partner William Klein, former diplomat and leader of FGH’s Ukraine Task Force, offered some analysis and advice for companies in a conversation with staff last week moderated by D.C.-based partner and former Washington Post journalist Anne Gearan

Here are some of his key takeaways:

  • Companies should prepare for continued conflict. “What we’re telling customers is, ‘Hope for the best but do prepare that things are probably in the short term at least going to get worse.’”
  • Companies will continue to disengage from Russia and be willing to take financial hits to the bottom line to do so. “Honestly, it has surprised me,” Klein said. “That many companies are willing to very, very proactively and consciously sacrifice their bottom lines in order to stand up for broader principles, I think is a very, very remarkable step.” 
  • Realignment of corporate priorities will outlast this conflict. “Ensuring that companies operate in environments that are consistent with our collective values is not going away,” Klein said.
  • Companies should not give up on Russia entirely and continue to support Russian employees as much as possible. It’s in everyone’s best interest to engage Russia, including within the international nuclear nonproliferation framework, Klein said.
  • Companies should begin to think about a return-to-Russia strategy. “We don’t know how long this is going to last, but let us also not close the door to a Russia that is again a responsible player in the world and that we can continue to do commerce with,” Klein said. “It’s in none of our interests to marginalize Russia now and forever. So have a view, don’t burn bridges.”