War: From Ukrainian MBAs, Harrowing Stories & Vows Of Support For A Homeland Under Attack

Katya Bobrova

Katya Bobrova
Investment Banking Associate at Morgan Stanley

It is quite clear that Russians were hoping to establish control over Ukraine in a blitzkrieg style. And as we can see, it didn’t quite go as planned. One key advantage that Ukrainians have is that we are fighting for our country and on our land. I really admire our President Zelenskiy (who comes from my hometown of Kryvyi Rih) who has proved himself as an outstanding leader and patriot, and I don’t think that Ukrainians will accept any forcefully established government in any case.

Regardless of how the war ends, if anyone has been paying attention to Ukraine’s political dynamics over the last 20 years or so, it will not be a walk in the park for anyone who tries to seize power in a non-democratic way. What I can see now, what I hear from my family and friends is a truly defiant spirit towards Russian aggression. Our country has never been more united than now.

Russia’s economy has certainly taken a big hit. The sanctions against Russia unlikely to be catastrophic for their economy in the short term. But the longer term effects of the sanctions will be meaningful. Especially devastating will probably be the tech component of the sanctions, i.e. limiting access to high tech imports, including various components that are not easy to source elsewhere or manufacture internally. Unfortunately, given the authoritarian nature of the Russian regime, the economic situation or welfare of Russian people are not something that the Russian President is pre-occupied with as this doesn’t not affect his tenure at the office (as would be the case in a democratic society).

I don’t see a massive disruption to Europe from side effects of the sanctions against Russia; the most immediate impacts will relate to oil and gas supplies and other commodity prices.

It is almost impossible to think about anything else. I am very worried about my family and friends. We are still in shock and in disbelief that Russia, our neighbours and brotherly nation, could invade our country. A normal text from a friend in Ukraine now contains such phrases as “we have spent last night in a bunker”, “there is a bomb that hit a house near my home”, “there has been non-stop shelling”. This is scary, heart-breaking and sickening to see the reports of loss of human lives and damage done to our country.

My family and my friends are staying in the country, only those with little children have left Ukraine so far. They are hoping for the best, but also ready to fight for our country.

Kateryna Markova
MBA ‘19, IESE Business School
Senior Strategic Sourcing Manager at Amazon

All my family is in Kiev right now. They are extremely stressed and terrified, the sounds of explosions and air raid alarms taking turns. My close friends took their kids and left to smaller cities hoping that it’s safer, but there is no safe place currently in Ukraine, Russian army actions are unpredictable. Putin said that military operations would be only in the Eastern Ukraine, but they are attacking the whole country without exception.

Kateryna Markova

Kateryna Markova

On 24 February, Ukrainian president declared mobilization, meaning that men at the age of 18-60 are not allowed to leave the country. For us it means that my younger brother and my dad can’t leave the country and my mum will never go without them. They are staying and will spend this night at a shelter.

We all hope that conflict will end soon but we don’t see a clear path to the solution. Ukraine is alone in this war; most countries continue expressing deep concerns, impose light sanctions and don’t realize the real scale of the threat. From 2014 experience, we know that sanctions don’t work against Russia. Yes, their economy will struggle, but Russian people won’t go on the streets and if they do, the government will take measures like ithas in Belarus recently.

Putin will calm down if there is a pro-Russian government in Kyiv, but it’s not possible, not for Ukrainians. We want to live in a democratic country, we proved this during two revolutions and we just can’t turn back. Ukrainians will fight till the end but won’t accept Putin’s regime in Kyiv.

It’s difficult to say what long-term implications there will be to business and finance in Eastern Europe, as there are still too many unknowns like conflict duration or infrastructure condition after the war ends. A lot will depend on financial support from other countries and the ability of the Ukrainian government to attract investors back to the country.

Vadim, MBA ‘22 who doesn’t want to use his full name

My family is (in Ukraine). They are safe. But they don’t want to leave, because they are afraid that they will never be able to return.

The conflict will end quickly, if the US and EU think about long-term solutions, rather than short term. If Russia takes Kiev, it will install a new government over the controlled area. It will have 101% of popular support.

Russia is ready for sanctions. Also, China has announced a partnership without limits. It will alleviate sanctions. The implications to Eastern Europe, Russia, and Western Europe will be the same. Energy prices will be high, as Russia needs to pay military bills.


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