Article published on the bne IntelliNews website on October 30th, 2019.
Ukraine’s new government held an investment summit in Mariupol on October 29, barely 20km from the frontline in the undeclared war with Russia. International investors and Ukraine’s donors flocked to the Black Sea port town where President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged them to come and grab the opportunity to invest in his country by the horns.
The Donbas conflict quickly emerged as a key theme of the investment forum that was attended by the entire Ukrainian Cabinet — something that comes naturally with holding a business event within shelling distance of an active war zone.
Most of Ukraine’s top officials — including the foreign, interior, finance and prime ministers — as well as representatives of major western companies, international institutions and embassies made the trip to Mariupol, putting the spotlight on the biggest Donbas city still under Ukrainian control.
The goal was two-fold for Zelenskiy, who has the flair of a showman and set the project in motion during the summer. He organised the forum to reassure foreign investors and western institutions concerned about the government’s plans as well as the potential influence of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, while trying to convince the population of eastern Ukraine of the government’s willingness to support a region wrecked by a five-year long conflict.