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Ukraine Struggles to Get ‘War Bonds’ to Retail Investors Abroad

The government has been selling debt even as Russian troops advance, but it’s only available to top-tier investors.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance in Kyiv.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance in Kyiv.

Photo: Getty Images
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On Feb. 28, just four days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, the nation’s debt chief told investors he’d found a way to support his country’s defense: He was set to use Ukraine’s weekly debt auction the following day to raise funds for its military, denominated in retail investor-friendly chunks of 1,000 hryvnia ($33). Outraged at the invasion and seeking a way to show support, people around the world flooded social media asking how they might be able to buy what everyone started calling “war bonds.”

They soon discovered that only institutional investors such as money managers and pension funds could purchase them. Now, Ukraine is racing to make its debt available to a broader range of buyers, a task that typically requires consultation with legions of lawyers and bankers over a period of months, not the days or weeks that the government would prefer.