The Blast interviewed Igor Novikov, former advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to hear his unique perspective on the current crisis in Ukraine. Novikov, who has a degree in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science, brings a unique set of technological, entrepreneurial, and policy perspectives to the dialogue of innovation in Eastern Europe.
In the seventh article in our series about Ukraine, Novikov discusses how individuals can help Ukraine.
Igor Novikov Answers What Is The Best Way For Individuals To Support Ukraine
“Life gets disrupted in a major way,” he explained. “Imagine that zombie apocalypse that Hollywood keeps showing you and it happens in real life. One day you are going about your life and you take things for granted – you have your conditioner and shampoo in your bathroom – and you have a full fridge, you grab a beer after work, you go for a walk, your pets have food, your children have food, everything seems to be normal, and the next morning you don’t know where to get fresh water from.”
“The first thing to go from the shops is fresh war,” he continued. “Fresh water and cigarettes. Those were two things that disappeared almost instantly. Then went bread and milk. Now, bread and milk returned, water returned, but cigarettes are still hard to come by.”
“Which is a good thing,” he added. “Smoking kills.”
“That kind of disruption is really devastating on your future and on your present,” he added. “Money helps here, but before we think further, before we think about how to rebuild and get life back to normal, we need to figure out how to survive and ironically, money is not as important for Ukraine in this day and age as attention.”
“I am not worried about Putin can do, and that includes a nuclear strike on Ukraine territory,” he added. “We’re survivors. We’ll make it through. What I’m really worried about is the fact that the next Justin Bieber album will come out, and the world will switch its attention to that.”
“If Putin is doing what he is now with Ukraine now with the world’s attention drawn to us, imagine what he’s going to do to us when the world is looking the other way. So in remembering us and talking about the situation in Ukraine until it’s resolved is the first thing you can do to help.”
Igor Novikov Explains The Importance Of Trying To Rebuild Ukraine
He also asked for the world to “bear with us once this is over,” he added. “You cannot imagine the scale of devastation that Russia is bringing. They’re literally destroying everything square meter by square meter. They’re destroying infrastructure, they’re destroying schools, they’re destroying hospitals, so when this ends, there’s a high likelihood that Ukraine will be just a wasteland with some really courageous and brave and great people living in that wasteland so we’re going to need all the help that we can get to rebuild.”
“We’re going to be asking for your help to rebuild quickly,” he continued. “If this drags on, the psychological damage will be far greater than the physical damage that Russia is creating and that is one of the objectives they actually openly declared. That’s one of the reason they’ve given explicit orders to shoot and kill civilians and to target schools and hospitals, because they want people to panic. They want people to run.They want to destroy the military and everyone who’s pro-Western, pro-liberty, pro-human rights, they want them to flee for Poland or somewhere else and then they get the territory.”
“And then they’ll set up military bases in this territory and then they’ll attack Moldova or Poland or somewhere else from this territory. We saw it happen in Belarus,” he explained. “Most of the attacks that come at Ukraine at the moment come from the territory of Belarus, not from Russia, so it’s really important to keep that human spirit, that flame burning. If we let them extinguish it, we lose. People stop paying attention to Ukraine, we lose.”
He then addressed the individual person, saying, “Let me assure you that we see and we assure you that we appreciate everything that you do.”