Launch of Whistlestops for Ukraine 2023-24—Why a Free and Sovereign Ukraine Matters to America

November 30, 2023
GMF and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation launched “Whistlestops for Ukraine”, a multi-state public diplomacy initiative to support Ukraine’s victory, recovery, and reconstruction.

Minneapolis (November 30, 2023) – The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (HGBF) today launched “Whistlestops for Ukraine”, a multi-state public diplomacy initiative to support Ukraine’s victory, recovery, and reconstruction. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, the United States and its allies have stood shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainians as they defend themselves and their country from an unjust war.  As another tough winter and the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion approaches, this whistlestop tour, headlined by GMF President Heather A. Conley and HGBF Chairman and CEO Howard G. Buffett, will work to foster conversations on why the outcome of the war matters to Americans and how the conflict affects local, national, and global communities.    

At each stop of the tour through the U.S. heartland, representatives from local governments, civic and faith-based organizations, agricultural groups, local businesses, and Ukrainian-American communities will gather to discuss the importance of a free and sovereign Ukraine to the United States. Topics will include the devastating human cost of the war, the impact on global food security, American charitable efforts for Ukraine, democratic reforms in Ukraine, and the benefits that U.S. support provides to our own economy and national security.

At the first stop in Minnesota, agribusiness leaders and the local Ukrainian-American community will meet to discuss the impact of the war and U.S. support for Ukraine on Minnesotans. Governor Tim Walz and Buffett will speak with farmers, and Conley and Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova will visit the Minnesota-based Protez Foundation, which provides prosthetics manufactured in the state for Ukrainian children, civilians, and soldiers who have lost limbs in the conflict. 

“Global challenges, such as the war in Ukraine, are also intensely local. What happens in Ukraine matters to American farmers and our country as a whole,” noted GMF President Heather Conley. “More than seven decades ago, the United States saved Europe from fascism and Nazism in World War II and then, after the war, made the powerful choice of providing hope by helping to reconstruct Western Europe through the Marshall Plan. Today, the same choice confronts us. I’m heartened by what I see today in Minnesota, where local communities have come together to back Ukraine.”

“Ukraine has done the unthinkable over the last two years by successfully defending itself from an unprovoked invasion by one of the world’s most powerful armies,” Howard G. Buffett added. “Every country that stands for freedom and sovereignty needs to do everything possible to help Ukraine decisively win this war. What happens in Ukraine will change the course of history, including here in Minnesota and in communities across the United States. The stakes could not be higher.”

By bringing together community leaders for these critical conversations, GMF and its partners hope to educate the American people about why support for Ukraine is critical to American interests.  

The whistlestop tour’s other goals are to increase community dialogue and demonstrate how supporting Ukraine enhances U.S. security and prosperity, to showcase how American communities are already mobilizing to support Ukraine, to inform debate and discussion about Ukraine, and to foster champions for Ukraine among the American people.  

The whistlestop tour will continue in 2024 in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Learn more about the Whistlestops for Ukraine Initiative. 



About the German Marshall Fund

The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, transatlantic organization headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices in Ankara, Belgrade, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Paris, and Warsaw. GMF envisions a democratic, secure, and prosperous world in which freedom and individual dignity prevail. GMF strives to champion democratic values and the transatlantic alliance by strengthening civil society, forging bold and innovative policy ideas, and developing a new generation of leaders to tackle global challenges. GMF delivers hope by upholding the dignity of the individual and defending freedom in the spirit of the Marshall Plan. Learn more about GMF’s work at


About The Howard G. Buffett Foundation

Established in 1999, The Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s mission is to catalyze transformational change to improve the standard of living and quality of life, particularly for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations. The foundation uses its resources to improve conditions and create change in the most difficult circumstances and geographies. It invests its funding in four main areas: food security, conflict mitigation, combatting human trafficking, and public safety. Learn more about The Howard G. Buffet Foundation at


Press Inquiries

For media inquiries, please contact Christopher Schaefer at [email protected].