I moved to the UK 19 years ago from Ukraine. I remember my time growing up in the USSR vividly. Russia has always tried to stop Ukrainian people from moving towards the west and tried to install its own direct control. We were used to constant propaganda, continuous cyber-attacks and the killing of journalists and prominent Ukrainian politicians, who have been fighting this hidden cold war ever since Ukraine claimed its independence 30 years ago.
When the Ukraine war first started, I planned to fly to France to meet up with my family there. My brother was supposed to fly out of Ukraine too, but his flight was a few hours too late. The war started at 5am and all flights had been cancelled.
My brother was stranded. Having no sleep for a few days, being constantly on the phone, I cannot describe the feelings and emotions I had to go through until my brother managed to get to the western part of the country. I felt helpless.
Mine is just one of the many stories coming out of this pointless war. The whole world now shows solidarity with Ukraine and its people, who are fighting for the freedom of Europe and the world. History is happening now. Millions of innocent people have already lost their homes, many have died and more will die.
Under Putin, Russia has become so confident in its own invulnerability that it thought it could conquer Ukraine within a few days. But the Ukrainian people have shown their courage in defending their homeland, culture and traditions, democratic principles, moral values and freedom. This is no longer about the present: it is about the future.
My compatriots’ lives now depend on the choices made by every citizen in every country. The UK has democracy at its heart, and the generous hearts of the British people have always been a fundamental part of upholding this principle.
I appeal to you to stop relationships with any Russian-based clients, partners, food suppliers and manufacturers. I hope you will join the hundreds of companies and organisations supporting this movement, as they demonstrate unity against Russian state aggression.
As the owner of a small business, my team and I are also donating 2% of all sales to Ukraine Charity, which already supported many projects in the country aimed at helping children with special needs. These children need our help like never before.
Where I work, our team is international. We employ 35 people from over 12 countries. Some of my colleagues are from Georgia, Lebanon and Syria, where they have already experienced war and its cruel consequences for their families and society. War erases all cultural and linguistic boundaries – it erases everything but the meaning of life itself. I would not be able to go through this without their support.
I appeal to the food and drink industry for its support, as the principles of democracy and peace can only be upheld through our joint efforts. It’s more than just a question of business: it’s a question of life or death for 44 million people.