Mike Pompeo has said Ukraine has an “enormously bright future,” two weeks into his new position on the Board of Directors of the mobile operator Kyivstar.

The former US Secretary of State told Kyiv Post in an interview that one of his main tasks in his new role is to convince foreign investors “that it’s a safe place to come” despite the many challenges the country faces.

“Investors invest for the future, and Ukraine has an enormously bright future, and I hope and pray that we get there quickly,” he said.

Pompeo said there is still much work to be done in the areas of “property rights, rule of law, transparency and predictability,” but he is confident Ukraine will be able to provide “all of those things that investors need.”

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He added: “And when it does, well, what you can see from this war is the Ukrainian people are remarkable – they’re smart, they’re innovative, they work their tails off and when they’re focused on a mission, they’re people of amazing skill and entrepreneurship.

“We’ve seen that in this war. That’s what I think investors will see as well, not just American, but I’m convinced Europeans and investors from the Middle East will see there is a real opportunity there.”

But as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine continues, Pompeo had a word of caution: “It’s obviously the case that Ukraine will have to continue to make progress and ultimately defeat the aggression from Vladimir Putin before that can begin in earnest.”

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Pompeo’s appointment to Kyivstar’s seven-member supervisory board as an independent non-executive director was announced shortly after a tumultuous period for the company, during which concerns were raised over its possible nationalization.

On Oct. 6, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) announced the seizure of all “corporate rights” of Kyivstar in relation to sanctions placed over three Russian oligarchs, meaning that the government would take control over 99 percent of the telecommunications company’s authorized capital.

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The court later amended the ruling, claiming that only 47.8 percent of Kyivstar’s “corporate rights” are subjected to government seizure, corresponding to the number of shares the oligarchs controlled through LetterOne, a Luxembourg-based investment fund founded by the three sanctioned oligarchs.

Among those oligarchs is Mikhail Fridman, a Lviv-born Russian-Israeli citizen who also founded Alfa-Bank. Until 2022 Fridman was on the supervisory board of directors of VEON, a Netherlands-based telecoms company that owns Kyivstar.

VEON issued a statement in response to the move clarifying that the sanctioned individuals "are not a part of VEON’s or Kyivstar’s governance, that they have no control or influence and derive no financial benefits."

“We did see this risk that someone might decide to nationalize Kyivstar,” Pompeo said. “That would be a very big mistake for the Ukrainian people.

“[Investors] will see that if their capital can’t be protected and there aren’t basic property rights, the rule of law, predictability and transparency – that value set will matter enormously to how quickly Ukraine can rebuild in the aftermath of its victory against Vladimir Putin.”

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