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Lobbying Giant Works to Connect Ukraine Officials With U.S. Leaders After Representing Russian Bank as War Rages on

Thomas Peter | Reuters
  • Mercury Public Affairs agreed to conduct lobbying work that would include setting up communications between Ukrainian government officials with U.S. leaders, according to a disclosure filed with the Department of Justice's FARA Unit.
  • The company dropped Russian bank Sovcombank as a client after the U.S. took aim at the financial institution with sanctions.
  • The U.S. and its Western allies placed sanctions on multiple Russian financial firms after the country invaded Ukraine.

Mercury Public Affairs, a global lobbying behemoth, is aiming to connect Ukrainian government officials with American leaders after the firm dropped Sovcombank as a client following U.S. sanctions on the Russian financial juggernaut.

Sanctions on Sovcombank and other major financial firms in the country came in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. President Joe Biden's administration also has targeted Russia's central bank. Mercury announced last month it was no longer representing Sovcombank.

In recent days, Mercury agreed to conduct lobbying work that would include setting up communications between local Ukrainian officials with U.S. leaders in states and cities, according to a disclosure filed with the Department of Justice's FARA Unit.

The filing notes that Mercury "agreed to perform limited outreach on behalf of the city/regional government of Kharkiv, Ukraine, to coordinate with U.S. local, state, and federal officials."

Mercury's pro bono agreement, according to the filing, is through GloBee International Agency for Regional Development, which, according to its website, is working to create international coalitions in support of Ukraine, among other themes. Other U.S.-based lobbyists also have been working the phones to help Ukrainian leaders connect with state and city leaders.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and his administration appear to be a target of such engagement by Mercury. The disclosure report shows that Edward Mermelstein, Adams' commissioner of New York's international affairs office, was in touch earlier this month with Mercury representatives about setting up calls between the Kharkiv government and city officials. It's unclear if those calls have yet to take place.

Mermelstein, who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, once consulted for a nonprofit backed by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. The Russian billionaire has also been sanctioned by the United States.

A spokesperson for Mercury said Jake Dilemani, a partner at the firm's New York office, is managing the account. Dilemani is also listed on GloBee's website as a director under their supervisory board.

"We were retained by GloBee International Agency for Regional Development to facilitate communication between Ukrainian municipal and regional officials and municipal and state officials in the United States," a spokesperson for Mercury told CNBC.

"This is a pro bono effort, and given the devastation and horror happening on the ground in Ukraine, we wanted to help facilitate communication between Ukrainian and American leaders and citizens.   We will continue to disclose any work we do related to this effort."

A spokesperson for Adams' office did not return a request for comment before publication.

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