Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: It’s Personal

Protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Times Square

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hits home personally. Images of disrupted lives desperately seeking sanctuary knock the ground out from under our feet. They remind us of how quickly the circumstances of our lives can change – whether from natural causes or man-made disasters brought on by power conflicts not of our choosing or making.

In my March newsletter, which you can subscribe to here, I write about the war’s impact on international trade. And there are many. Beyond the immediate disruptions caused by war and a growing refugee crisis, there is the long-term impact of sanctions on Russia and the withdrawal of companies from the country.

This post, however, is about the personal impact of the war. Watching the images, I wonder whether the fleeing refuges contain any of my former colleagues (from my prior life on a USAID project). I hope, desperately, that they are safe. Should I ever get the opportunity to visit Kiev again, will the beautiful and historic city be recognizable?

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: It’s Personal | DevelopTradeLaw

Twenty Jamaican students arrived safely at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on Wednesday, March 2 from Ukraine.

Footage of foreign students struggling to get back to the safety of their countries hit very close to home. In the 1970s I studied in Moscow in what was then the Soviet Union. My fellow foreign students included dozens of other Jamaicans and thousands of students from around the world. Despite the heightened rhetoric of the cold war era, the assurance of mutual destruction provided an armed stability that made the current scenarios unlikely.

So, it felt very personal when, along with fellow Jamaicans around the world, I followed the passage of 24 Jamaican medical students forced to flee Ukraine after the invasion. In this video clip they share the aspirations that brought them to and kept them in Ukraine, the disruptions to their life goals, and the harsh journey home. Why people feel driven to travel half-way around the world to pursue their dreams is a discussion for another time and forum.

All wars are personal. Started and fueled by politics gone awry, the human toll is what grips our attention and fuels our rage.

Keeping the people of Ukraine in our hearts and minds, in addition to pledging not to do business with Russia, here are some ways to help. The National Bank of Ukraine has also opened a fundraising account for humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians affected by the war.


Andrea Ewart

Andrea Ewart

I am a seasoned international trade and customs attorney, and policy adviser for various companies and governments with a demonstrated history of successfully developing and implementing sustainable and dynamic trade programs. I am experienced in creating partnerships with various business-support organizations to drive compliance and growth in the international market.