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AFS Partner Leads Effort to Provide Humanitarian Support to Ukraine

Partner David Tafuri is leading an effort at the firm to support US-based NGOs operating in Ukraine.

In two visits to Kyiv last month, David met with President Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. He accompanied philanthropist Howard Buffett on the first trip and business leader, Sir Richard Branson, on the second. President Zelensky posted video of both of these meetings on his Instagram account.

In his post about the meeting with Howard Buffett, President Zelensky said, “[We] discussed assistance that will be valuable for our state. He offered to join projects to restore irrigation systems in the Odessa region, support our people, demining and school nutrition reform.”

CNBC also reported on the meeting and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s generous donations for Ukraine. In an interview with CNBC, Mr. Buffett said a particular focus of his foundation is food security. As has been widely report in the media, Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports could result in famine across Africa and the Middle East. Mr. Buffett explained that his team is exploring creative ways to ensure Ukraine’s grain can be exported to avert an even wider humanitarian crisis.

Mr. Buffett also mentioned two NGOs he is supporting that have been uniquely effective in Ukraine, Spirit of America and World Central Kitchen, both of which David also met with regarding their support for Ukraine.

Discussing the meeting later in the month with Mr. Branson, President Zelensky posted that they “talked about maintaining global attention to the war in Ukraine, as well as prospects for cooperation in the postwar Ukraine.” In that meeting, President Zelensky called on nations who want to help Ukraine to support two platforms that he feels are essential to Ukraine’s survival: security guarantees and the continued maintenance of sanctions on Russia.

In a letter he posted on Virgin.com, Sir Richard Branson wrote, “ I remain hopeful that Ukraine and its wonderful people will prevail and win this war, taking control of their territory, their sovereignty and their future path. But more than ever, all of us have to stand together and confront the threat Ukraine and the world face.”

David was also in Ukraine twice in March 2022 working on pro bono matters, including for meetings with AFS’ pro bono client, Global Surgical and Medical Support Group. GSMSG is the only US organization sending former US military doctors and medics to Ukraine to train and treat the armed forces there, at great risk to their all-volunteer team. The AFS attorney team includes Kay Georgi, Marwa Hassoun, and Jasmine Zaki.

Learn more about ArentFox Schiff’s pro bono work here.

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