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The Ukrainian Conflict is Our Conflict
March 3, 2022

Take the fight for the leadership of the future – which shows the way through goodness, empathy, and love instead of evil and hatred, writes Judy Shalom, CEO and founder of Advedro, on Ukraine and the current conflict in the region.

On the morning of February 24th, 2022, Europe’s history changed once again, when we awoke to the following words from Russian President Vladimir Putin:

“Whoever tries to hinder us, or threaten our country or our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to consequences that you have never faced in your history. We are ready for any turn of events. All necessary decisions in this regard have been made. I hope that I will be heard.”

Such an event happening in Europe during the 21st century feels completely unreal – but still, here we are. Normally I write about digital marketing, AI, NFT, crypto, and entrepreneurship, but when a country in the middle of Europe is, completely unprovoked, attacked by a seemingly crazy autocratic head of state, it is difficult to write about anything else. The essence of it all, however, is about leadership. And in this horrible story, there are lessons and initiatives that need to be taken. Because basically, all leaders have a choice – to lead with goodness or to lead with fear. Our choices as leaders make a huge difference and impact the future.

Russia is by far the largest country on the planet; no one else comes close. A massive surface area entails massive natural resources. Despite this, they have yet to stabilize their economy, which is best described as a disaster in which oil and gas are the only things holding everything together. Russia’s GDP is not even in the top ten in the world; it is on par with Spain, which has a third of the population and over 30 times less land area. When measured in terms of GDP per capita, Russia ranks only in the top 50 in the world. It’s insane that such a massive country with such vast resources couldn’t do better. However, the root of the problem is simply a rotten and corrupt regime, with Putin at the helm.

A man who has held his country in a vice-like grasp for more than two decades. With the power his position gave, he has made himself, his family, and associates incredibly wealthy, while his country’s populace has become increasingly impoverished and isolated from the rest of the world.

When Ukraine dreams of a new future, Putin cannot simply stand by, accept it and watch. Ukraine is a free and democratic country that aspires to develop a liberal economy, join the EU and NATO to strengthen ties with the West, and stand on its own two feet. These procedures acted as a fertile ground for the first large-scale war we have seen in Europe since World War II.

A conflict that is legitimized by falsehoods and propaganda but has no roots in Putin’s own populace. Putin is a reclusive figure who aspires to resurrect the Soviet Union’s previous glory days at all costs. However, I have a great deal of sympathy for the Russian people, as I feel that they are also a victim of Mr. Putin’s regime.

However, the fate of the Ukrainian people is something I can identify with on a personal level because I fled ex-Yugoslavia as a political refugee in the early 1990s together with my entire family.  We didn’t flee for worldly wealth, but rather for freedom. The freedom to express what we think, to be able to say who we are, to vote for the people we want in control, and to be who we want to be. Freedom that far too many people, particularly in the West, take for granted. Let us, therefore, be extremely careful about what we have and what we want to leave to our children.

What is happening is historic, and the Ukrainian courage and resistance are among the most heroic I have ever witnessed in my life. What incredible heroes, who inspire people all over the world!

Last but not least, I am impressed by their president. When Volodymyr Zelensky was elected, it felt a little like a joke to me. A comedian for president?

Oh, how wrong I was; I now have a great deal of respect for his leadership. When the US repeatedly stated that it wanted to ensure his escape from Ukraine to safety, he responded, “I need ammo, not a ride.” A quote that will live on in the annals of time. Thus, Zelensky exemplifies the other side of leadership: leading with love and setting a good example to those you lead.

Putin probably envisioned a simple takeover similar to what the Taliban did in the summer of 2021 when they took over Afghanistan and the president fled like a frightened hen, but he grossly underestimated the situation. Ukraine’s leadership, its people, and the West’s resolute actions speak clearly; we are not afraid of a bully.

In recent days, the EU and the US have announced a number of measures aimed at the Russian financial system. It was first decided that several Russian banks, including the state-owned Sberbank and VTB, would be disconnected from the international payment network SWIFT. It acts as a kind of messaging service that ensures that transfers between banks in different countries end up in the right account.

Not being able to use SWIFT makes it very difficult and cumbersome for Russian banks to do business with foreign countries, including bringing home money they have deposited abroad.

The Moscow Stock Exchange was closed on Monday, but in London, where some Russian shares are also traded, Sberbank fell by 70 percent.

We must now do more than just post cheers and images of the Ukraine flag on social media; we must also take concrete action.

  • Individuals can donate money to organizations that assist on the ground.
  • We can do the same as business owners.

Not everyone can be Elon Musk, who arranges internet access for the entire country in a matter of hours, but we can donate money to organizations that are already in place.

My company, Noord Marketing, which owns Advedro and many other brands, has donated $5000 to Ukraine, which will be used on the ground there.

Do everything you can as a company!

As citizens, we must open our hearts and with open arms receive Ukrainian refugees who need our help.

Because the conflict in Ukraine is also ours, we must all do our part because history will not forget. With the hope of bringing our children peace and leadership that chooses goodness, empathy, and love over evil and hatred.

Judy Shalom is CEO of Advedro, Author, Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, and most of all she is a strong businesswoman of shared learning, transparent communication, and visionary leadership. She lectures and attends various types of digital marketing conferences where she excels at explaining different types of online marketing concepts and what type of AI-driven technology is being used today in the digital world.