VEON Communications Holding has announced that former US Secretary of State Mike R. Pompeo will join the Board of Directors of Ukrainian operator Kyivstar as an independent non-executive director.

In a release, VEON said that Secretary Pompeo joins as a partner of Impact Investments, a newly established U.S.-based strategic and financial advisory and investment firm that seeks to develop long-term partnerships with leading global companies across industries and regions. In addition, Kaan Terzioglu, CEO of VEON Group, has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kyivstar.

Apparently, in this way VEON will try to protect Kyivstar from possible nationalization. Rumors about it have been circulating since the summer after the nationalization of Sense Bank, the former Alfa-Bank Ukraine owned by Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, who is under international and Ukrainian sanctions. His related company L1 Technology (LetterOne) owns 47.9% of the voting shares in VEON. In turn, VEON owns 100% of Kyivstar.

Judging by VEON’s statement on Pompeo’s appointment, the holding company does not hide its desire to distance itself from Russian investors as much as possible.

“These changes to Kyivstar’s Board of Directors reflect VEON’s commitment to Ukraine and to the recovery and reconstruction of the country. As previously announced, VEON has committed USD 600 million in investments in Ukraine over the next three years alongside the launch of its “Invest in Ukraine NOW!” initiative, inviting other international companies to commit to Ukraine’s rebuilding. With a commitment to providing services in Ukraine, VEON has exited Russia, announcing the completion of the sale of its Russian subsidiary on 9 October 2023,” the company says in a release.

Kaan Terzioglu, CEO of VEON Group and Chairman of the Board of Kyivstar, also noted that “VEON has made the clear choice to serve Ukraine through its wholly owned subsidiary Kyivstar.”

“I proudly join VEON and Kyivstar in their extraordinary service to the people of Ukraine by providing essential connectivity and digital services in health, education, business growth and entertainment. I also applaud Kyivstar’s parent company VEON for its leadership in investing in Ukraine with their own long-term commitment and their ‘Invest in Ukraine NOW!’ initiative,” said Mike Pompeo.

“I am honored to welcome Mr. Pompeo as an independent non-executive director to the Board of Directors of Kyivstar, which is a strong signal of our commitment to improving the investment climate in Ukraine. This appointment underscores the key role of our parent company VEON and its unwavering commitment to progress in the Ukrainian digital landscape,” said Oleksandr Komarov, President of Kyivstar.

Mike Pompeo is a partner of Impact Investments, a newly established US-based strategic and financial advisory and investment firm that provides advisory, investment and partnership services to the world’s leading strategic companies across industries and regions. According to VEON, the Impact Fund will support Kyivstar’s management and its parent company in a number of key strategic initiatives in Ukraine.

As a reminder, Mike Pompeo served as the 70th Secretary of State from 2018 to 2021 and the sixth Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2017 to 2018. Secretary Pompeo also represented the state of Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017 and was CEO of Thayer Aerospace from 1996 to 2006. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School.