Ukraine’s top businessmen are answering President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call to assist and even lead the country’s efforts to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Zelenskyy had summoned Ukraine’s wealthiest businessmen for an emergency meeting on March 16 in the presidential building to consider a coordinated response to the crisis. They responded with alacrity, and the effort is unfolding based on ideas exchanged at that meeting.
Three guiding ideas are clearly discernible. First, the oligarchs seem ready to help finance the state’s effort, in addition to undertaking their own initiatives, which could be more extensive than the state’s. Mr. Zelenskyy has asked for 12 billion-13 billion hrv (some $440 million-$470 million U.S.), it being understood that this would be a first-stage, short-term response to the pandemic. Second, Mr. Zelenskyy has assigned certain geographical areas of responsibility to the top business leaders, namely where their major business assets, company headquarters and social networks are based, and where their businesses are the main employers.