In Brief

N.J. bans business with Russia, Belarus over Ukraine invasion

By: - March 9, 2022 6:48 pm

People wait for buses at a bus station as they attempt to evacuate the city on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Overnight, Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with explosions reported in multiple cities and far outside the restive eastern regions held by Russian-backed rebels. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

All public entities in New Jersey are barred from doing business with Russia and any companies with ties to the country after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new law imposing the restrictions Wednesday.

The bipartisan bill (S1889) was introduced less than two weeks ago in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It passed unanimously through both chambers.

“New Jersey cannot and will not stand idly by as a tin-pot dictator invades the free and independent nation of Ukraine,” the governor said in a statement after signing the bill.

Murphy referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a thug” and condemned the “unlawful invasion” of Ukraine in Tuesday’s budget address. The United Nations said this week more than 400 civilians have been killed in the conflict, though it expects the exact figures are much higher.

The law also prohibits any dealings with Belarus or businesses tied to it, as the country supports Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Under the law, the Treasury will identify any companies that Russia or Belarus have direct ties to, entities with headquarters in those countries, and businesses supporting the invasion of Ukraine by supporting the governments of Russia and Belarus.

Any company that ends up on the list will be ineligible to enter into any contracts with state agencies, file or renew permits with the state Labor Department, or be approved for any economic subsidies or tax clearances.

“This is an international crisis we can influence here in New Jersey by supporting the courageous people of Ukraine.  We can help cut off Russia’s finances and the profiteering of Putin and his oligarchs, including sanctions on tax breaks for developers,” state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), prime sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “They obviously have no respect for human rights, but we can make them pay an increasingly heavy price for their actions.”

Murphy has also issued an executive order requiring state departments to do a thorough review of their interactions with any Russian officials or businesses.

State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio said the Treasury is already reviewing any potential dealings the state has with Russia. So far, she said, the department’s officials are assessing the state pension fund’s “exposure to Russian investments and are in the process of identifying what state contracts, if any, might have ties to Russian businesses.”

A Treasury official told total New Jersey pension fund exposure to Russian investments was roughly $50 million as of Feb. 28.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.