Onix is an outsourcing software development company based in Ukraine. Our team, our nation, and the world are currently facing challenges not seen since World War II. Ukrainians are fiercely resisting the Russian invasion and will emerge victorious, but right now, we desperately need the support of the civilized democratic world.
In this article, you can learn specifically how to make a difference. At the end, we list some helpful, reliable resources. To begin, we will first provide some context for a better understanding of the situation.
For nearly two decades, Ukraine has been a major IT outsourcing hub, attracting the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, IBM, and Oracle. The proximity to European and Asian markets and a massive pool of tech talent using a variety of programming languages were attractive for startups and established tech companies alike. Both would hire full-time employees, especially senior engineering talent, and contract dedicated teams from local IT firms.
In late 2021-early 2022, warnings from U.S. sources caused many Ukrainian and global companies with offices in Ukraine to develop plans to:
However, the country had been at war (albeit undeclared) for eight years, with the Crimean peninsula annexed and parts of eastern territories occupied by the Russian Federation. The remainder of Ukraine lived peacefully, steadily growing the economy and implementing crucial reforms. Few expected a full-on invasion from Putin’s regime.
However, on 24 February 2022, our colleagues and millions of people woke up at 5 am to see Ukrainian military bases, airports, enterprises, and residential areas across the country bombed. The largest war in Europe since WW2 began.
Russian forces attacked Ukraine from the north, east, and south. Their air units are currently bombing cities and villages, destroying homes, schools, airports, railways, bridges, power plants, etc., and killing dozens of civilians at a time. Russian land troops are trying to capture major cities, including the capital of Kyiv. Ukraine’s airspace is closed and major roads gridlocked. The Russians even target nuclear power plants, keeping personnel hostage and threatening the world with another Chernobyl. Their warships target the entire coast of Ukraine.
Currently, there is no way to estimate the scale of death and destruction caused by Putin’s aggression. However, Ukrainians stand strong and fight fiercely. While the Ukrainian Army strives to defend every city, town, and village from the Russian tanks and bombs, local men and women join the Territorial Defense Forces, fortify their towns, make Molotov cocktails, etc.
Women and children are being evacuated to the safer western region of Ukraine or abroad. Most neighboring countries on the West of Ukraine are allowing them through without visas and often even without a passport. Over 1,000,000 crossed the borders of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova in the first week of the war. On the other hand, thousands of people go back to Ukraine to help their families or fight for their homeland.
Those who stay in Ukraine, in cities and towns under attack, spend nights in bomb shelters but do whatever they can to support the army, help people in need, and carry on with their lives as much as they can working, operating businesses, and caring for their families.
This war is affecting many people working in the tech industry, especially in Europe and the U.S.
Many Silicon Valley companies with engineering hubs in Ukraine anticipated this and developed emergency plans to help people move. Currently, Ukrainian IT companies and branches of foreign companies that relocated continue their operations in the relative safety of Lviv and other cities in the western region of Ukraine or neighboring countries.
Others, who had little to no preparation for such an event, will likely feel a massive impact until things get back to normal. While some are assisting with urgent relocations, others may find out that their engineers are already in the middle of a war zone or have joined the army.
The work of many teams has come to a halt already, virtually precluding any significant releases in Q1 of 2022. However, people’s lives and safety remain most companies’ priorities.
Since Ukrainian men aged 18-60 are not allowed to leave the country, it is not possible to evacuate male personnel. Still, many companies are helping move families and lend support to those needing to stay behind.
Many firms, such as Onix, have established corporate chats and other communication channels to facilitate the discussion, organization, and management of safety practices, transportation, accommodation, health care, psychological help, humanitarian aid, volunteer work, etc. People operations and People Partners keep in constant touch to monitor and support employees’ wellbeing. Managers reorganize teams and find other ways to replace missing workers and reduce the workload on the most affected employees.
Some companies have responded by establishing emergency funds and extending relief to Ukrainian workers, sending developers 1-2 months’ worth of salaries and bonuses ahead of time, doubling the frequency of payouts, etc. Many companies, including Onix, have committed to paying full salaries to employees joining the Ukrainian army or Territorial Defense forces for the duration of their service and ensure that developers who are stuck in war zones will retain their jobs and will be paid in full.
Those tech specialists who happened to be outside Ukraine when the war began typically qualify for highly-skilled worker visas in several European countries. Experienced software engineers will have plenty of choices for moving within Europe, and expedited visa requirements that many European countries are expected to introduce are likely to promote an influx of tech talent from Ukraine to Central and Western Europe.
Simultaneously, Russia and its ally Belarus are both increasingly regarded as risky to operate from. Companies with tech employees in these countries can be expected to open offices and relocate employees to the EU to the extent that evolving visa rules will permit. Many of the most employable people will leave Russia while they can. Europe will likely streamline the immigration of highly skilled Russian workers to European countries to benefit their tech sectors.
The war has also raised the risk of severe cyberattacks that may affect the U.S. and European systems. The Kremlin and its cybercriminal allies will likely step up their attacks as the war continues.
Onix’s team of 300+ members is distributed all over Ukraine and abroad. A number of colleagues have joined the military forces. Others have been relocated with families from war zones and high-risk areas to the west of Ukraine or abroad. The company has coordinated these processes, trying to ensure employees have what they need for normal life and work. However, the majority of the Onix team remains in the current relative safety of our hometown of Kropyvnytskyi.
Our HQ is located at nearly equal distances from major battlefields. The damage caused by air raids has been minimal so far, and despite periodic sirens and descending to bomb shelters, we try to remain calm. Like other citizens of Kropyvnytskyi, we support the humanitarian efforts and the Ukrainian armed forces, donate blood, take care of our elderly, children, and pets, host and feed refugees from other regions, and carry on projects and services!
Onix’s partners and clients have been extremely supportive, generous, and loyal. We are doing our level best to continue undisrupted service and keep up with project deadlines. We sincerely appreciate our clients who allow us extra time, acknowledging that the safety of every team member rightly comes ahead of anything else.
Nevertheless, all our systems are operational, the Internet connection remains stable, no client or user information has been affected, and we have taken extra cyber-security measures to preclude issues in the future. All information regarding our clients’ projects and customer data is stored on popular cloud services, such as AWS, Digital Ocean, and Google Cloud Platform, and thus will be safe in any case.
Putin’s war and threat of using nuclear weapons are putting to the test not only the people and tech companies of Ukraine but also communities, governments, and tech industries worldwide. Ukrainians are buoyed by the growing chorus of international outrage from the global community, especially the IT sector, about what is going on in the country.
While most governments strongly condemn the unprovoked military invasion of a peaceful sovereign state and roll out various anti-Russian sanctions, tech companies implement their own, often despite their own economic interests.
Dozens of global companies have responded to Russia’s aggression by cutting the country off from their products, services, and systems. For example, leading platforms are blocking Russian state-run media. Facebook and Google banned them from running adverts or monetizing content. Russian state media apps, including RT and Sputnik, are available to download now only from Russia.
Netflix suspended its operation in Russia, and Spotify closed its Russia office “indefinitely,” removed all content by RT and Sputnik in Europe, and restricted shows “owned or operated by Russian state media.” Chinese social media platforms Douyin and Weibo have been removing accounts that spread misinformation, warmongering remarks, and inappropriate jokes.
The customers of a growing number of Russian banks have been cut off from Apple Pay and Google Pay. PayPal is not accepting new users from Russia anymore.
Amazon stops accepting new AWS customers from Russia and Belarus.
GoDaddy ceased supporting new registrations for domains with the .ru extension.
Microsoft is suspending all new product sales, including Xbox consoles, and Apple is suspending all product sales in Russia. Oracle suspended its operations and SAP stopped its products and services sales in the country.
Intel and AMD halted processor sales, and the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturer TSMC is halting chip delivery to Russia. Nokia will soon stop deliveries, while Ericsson will suspend its deliveries to Russia.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has severed ties with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.
Upwork, one of the world’s major work marketplaces, has suspended operations in Russia and Belarus.
Twitch and Onlyfans blocked withdrawing money to Russian bank cards or banks.
The global hackers’ organization Anonymous has also launched a cyber-war against the Russian government. They plan to breach and leak databases, take down Russian government and media websites, etc.
Along with steps designed to punish the Russian dictator and his regime, tech companies are also refocused on helping Ukraine and Ukrainians. For example, Facebook refused to stop fact-checking and labeling content from Russian state-owned news agencies. Apple has disabled traffic and live incidents in Ukraine from Apple Maps.
After Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation tweeted to Elon Musk asking for Starlink stations, the SpaceX founder promptly activated the satellite internet service in Ukraine to limit the disruption of Internet access.
Besides blocking multiple Russian financial institutions due to U.S. sanction orders, Mastercard and Visa have pledged donations of $2 million each towards the Ukrainian humanitarian relief.
Airbnb is providing free housing to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, primarily in Poland, Germany, Hungary, and Romania.
This list of businesses and organizations that impose sanctions on Russia and contribute to the safety, life-saving, and eventual de-occupation of Ukraine is expanding rapidly. Every dollar, yen, or crypto coin, every bag of used clothing or can of preserves, every rally at a city square, shared video of a bombed city, or tweet against the brutal war counts more than ever.
People have grown accustomed to doing a lot virtually with a few clicks, often without spending much time and money, etc. Here are some of the possible options:
Don’t be a “bystander.” Unless you are located in Russia or Belarus, it is easy to condemn the Russian military aggression or support Ukraine on social media or on the streets.
Be sure to tell your friends, colleagues, and communities that a historic humanitarian catastrophe is happening in Europe and urge people to act. Contact your local, state, and national government officials to ensure they are pursuing economic sanctions against Russia, as well as funding much-needed humanitarian support for Ukraine.
Russia is pushing social media to remove unfavorable content and disseminate state war propaganda. Check your sources for getting accurate information, share verified news, fundraisers, etc., report fake messages, fraudulent activities, and inappropriate content.
Use the hashtags #StandWithUkraine, #SaveUkraine, #StopPutin, #StopRussia, and #WorldForUkraine on your social media to indicate your support and drive the world's attention to the cause.
Join protests worldwide or organize your own events to support Ukraine, demand actions to stop the Russian invasion, and raise funds for humanitarian efforts.
The UN projects more than 5 million people will soon flee from Ukraine. People escaping war often leave on short notice, taking with them young children, elderly parents, and pets but with little to no savings and belongings.
People in the EU and around the world can help refugees and relocated persons by:
It’s important to understand that people under attack in Ukraine, relocated IT employees, and refugees are all likely going through the greatest challenge of their lives. For example, if you are a manager, try to anticipate what would help and take direct steps to make it happen. Some companies suggest redirecting their entertainment budgets and volunteer days to help refugees.
The best immediate support of Ukraine’s effort to defend its people and democracy is sending money to the Ukrainian Army. Save Life Foundation provides aid to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, military training, veteran associations, and independent media. The National Bank of Ukraine has also opened a special fundraising account. It’s possible to donate via bank transfer or in cryptocurrency.
If you don’t want to do anything with the military, please consider donating to any of the multiple noble causes providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine during this crisis:
The efforts listed are just a few that come to mind first. Individuals and organizations that want to help can find other ways and hopefully will invent unique new solutions, especially if they work in the IT industry. Regardless of the methods, join the worldwide effort to stop this war and the horrible atrocities being inflicted upon Ukraine
Ukrainians are not only fighting for their lives: they are defending their freedom, safety for other European countries, and democratic values of the civilized world. They can’t be left alone to battle the monster of a state that Putin’s Russia has become.
If the war stretches out, more people will die and more families will be forced to flee, increasing the burden on neighboring countries. Even assuming the war ends quickly, it will take time and huge amounts of money to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure, housing, industry, businesses, educational institutions, etc.
Every dollar donated today increases the chances to save someone’s life, helps support Ukraine’s victory, and contributes to the restoration and rehabilitation of an already war-torn nation. At this moment in history time, we are all Ukrainians!