Fear and panic gripped Ukraine on Thursday as Russian forces invaded the country, after months of escalating tensions. Explosions began in several cities early morning and scared residents rushed to take shelter in basements and subway stations.
Their relatives living abroad are worried about their safety. One such foreign resident is Olga Kravchenko, the chief executive officer of an immersive app company named Museimo. She lives in the United Kingdom.
After Russia’s invasion of Europe, Kravchenko posted an emotional note on LinkedIn, in which she urged the world to support Ukrainians during the crisis.
“Today my country was invaded by Russia at 5 AM,” Kravchenko said. “Martial law has been introduced. Major cities are under missile attack. My family is in Kyiv, and they can't leave the country. The sky is closed. They hear explosions, and they hear sirens. They don't know what to do.”
Kravchenko’s team is also in Ukraine. “My team of 3 amazing people are now in the middle of the war conflict,” she added. “My team is based in 3 major cities, Kyiv, Dnipro and Kharkiv, 40 km away from the border with Russia.”
The CEO said she could only provide emotional support to them. She also had some advice for managers finding themselves in a similar situation.
“Check with your HR (Human Resources) if you have any Ukrainian nationals hired within your company and reach out to them ASAP (as soon as possible),” she said. “The ones now in Ukraine are living through the worst nightmare, and they are scared for their lives and their future. It would help if you were prepared to accept that these people are now in survival mode and might be ordered to go to shelters.”
Kravchenko added: “They might lose any connection with the outside world. They might choose to stay offline as much as possible to avoid informational distress. They need to know that they have your support.”
The CEO added that Ukrainians like her, who live abroad, also needed support from others.
“We can't believe it's happening, and our minds are trying hard to stay sane,” Kravchenko added. “This is getting harder and harder with every minute. We know that the connection is unstable and might drop eventually (and temporarily), and we won't be able to stay in touch with our families. It is scary to even think about it.”
Kravchenko urged people to be empathetic. “Please show that you care about your Ukrainian employees and their families. Please support Ukraine.”Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has drawn criticism from across the world. Global leaders have warned that the attack will cause catastrophic loss of lives.