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Ukraine gas industry’s $1.7 million rearguard fight against Russian pipeline led new lobbying in July

Ukraine’s gas industry led new lobbying and PR spending last month as the country looks to mitigate the impact of President Joe Biden‘s decision not to block Russia’s pipeline to Germany, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of filings with the Department of Justice in July.

The Ukrainian Federation of Employers of the Oil and Gas Industry hired Washington white shoe law firm Arent Fox for “legal advisory and U.S. government relations services” effective July 16. The contract is worth $1.26 million and runs for one year.

The federation also hired Karv Communications out of New York for help “improving the image of the oil and gas industry of Ukraine” and “promoting energy security issues in the US economic and political media,” including “Nord Stream 2 related sanctions.” The contract is for $420,000 and runs for seven months, from July 1 through Jan. 31, 2022.

Together the Ukraine contracts add up to $1.7 million out of just over $5 million in new lobbying and public relations work filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in July, up from about $3 million last month. Other noteworthy deals include South Koreans seeking closer ties with Pyongyang, a stillborn contract with a Libyan presidential contender and a former CIA station chief in Islamabad now lobbying for Pakistan.

The Ukraine contracts come as Kyiv copes with the economic and strategic fallout from having Russia being able to circumvent its territory in delivering energy to western Europe. The Biden administration has vowed to work with Germany to provide energy and security guarantees to Ukraine and has appointed Nord Stream critic Amos Hochstein as a State Department energy envoy charged with implementing the deal.

The Ukrainian federation has also had a $960,000-a-year contract with Yorktown Solutions, a firm led by former Republican aide Daniel Vajdich, since January 2020. Earlier this year Yorktown hired former SFRC Democratic staffer Brittany Beaulieu and added her to the account.

Ukraine gas lobby hires PR help to press Biden on Russian pipeline to Europe

In other lobbying news, former Rep. Greg Laughlin of Texas is lobbying for a South Korean business group that hopes to restart economic cooperation with North Korea. The contract between Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, where Laughlin is a senior adviser, and the Corporate Association of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex is for $675,000 and runs for 10 months, from July 15 until May 14, 2022.

The embassy of Turkey has hired long-time subcontractor Lydia Borland and her firm LB International Solutions for $545,000 over six months as the country rebuilds a lobbying team decimated by defections amid a pressure campaign from the Armenian diaspora and allied groups critical of Ankara. She joins Patrick Garvey, a longtime aide to the late Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), as a recent hire.

Turkey scrambles to rebuild decimated lobbying team as tensions with US pile up

And Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck signed a $350,000 deal to represent former Libyan interior minister Fathi Bashagha ahead of presidential elections due later this year. The lobbying contract, signed in late June, would have been the fourth biggest of July but was terminated on July 9 without any explanation given by either party.

Other interesting contracts include the Haitian embassy’s $200,000 deal with LFA Holdings of New Jersey, signed days before President Moise Jovenel‘s assassination, to organize congressional visits to the country.

Finally, a member of Pakistan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) has hired a CIA veteran who was station chief in Islamabad during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and later served as the agency’s top counter-terrorism official from 2004 to 2006. Robert Laurent Grenier of Grenier Consulting in Arlington was hired for $25,000 per month on May 1, shortly before last month’s Washington visit by Pakistani National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency.

Pakistan steps up Kashmir lobbying for Biden era
Source: US Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

In addition to the Ukrainian contract, public relations firms disclosed $1.2 million in new contracts last month.

Topping the list is Hill & Knowlton‘s $900,000 engagement to develop a North America campaign to reinvigorate tourism to Japan in 2021. The campaign is funded by the Japanese National Tourism Organization.

Embattled Chinese technology firms Hikvision and Alibaba have also ramped up their public relations amid rising concerns over government control of the tech sector.

Meet the former US lawmakers lobbying for China, Inc.
Source: US Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

Finally, lobbying and PR firms disclosed more than $9 million in contract renewals and extensions last month.

That includes the $3.75 million that Squire Patton Boggs is to be paid to represent the office of Angolan President Joao Lourenco for the next year, up from $2.5 million last year. The firm is notably helping to prepare for the “Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation, and other steps necessary to improve Angola’s financial sector and resume correspondent banking relationships.” The departure of Deutsche Bank in 2016 left the country without any banks able to handle US-denominated transactions.

Separately, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice has extended its contract with RJI Capital Corporation through November 2021 for $3 million. The resource-rich country is keen to promote itself as a safe destination for foreign investment even as it pursues a decade-long, $500 million international legal fight with a disgruntled oil and gas investor.

Source: US Department of Justice / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)