Ukraine funds director: “This is how you defend your own freedom”

Despite the shelling of Kyiv and her subsequent flee from that city, Anastasiia Gavryliuk of the Ukrainian Association of Investment Business (UAIB) describes the first few days of the war and conveys her resolute confidence in the Ukrainian people’s resistance. This was sent to Funds Europe on the afternoon of Friday, March 4.

It is indeed hard to do anything else now than following updates from the front lines (in fact, from many of our cities and towns being bombed) and sharing them on social media worldwide. And just trying to survive while helping our army and territorial defence with money, food etc. Yesterday, my mother and I joined many others to help prepare chicken stew in hundreds of 0.5 L and 1 L jars. Today, we helped make a masking net for the checkpoint in the village we are now in, in central Ukraine.

This is an experience we’re still struggling to come to terms with, although this all-out Russian invasion wasn’t something many people in Ukraine, including myself, didn’t expect. Unfortunately.

Although the Russian-Ukrainian war started back in 2014, with the occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, and then a hybrid invasion and occupation of the Donbas region in the east of Ukraine in February-August that year, it since had been a ‘low-intensity military conflict’ for many years, up until last spring.

The tensions began to rise in April 2021 when Russia massed its troops closer to its western borders with Ukraine and upped its aggressive rhetoric regarding Ukraine in the state ‘media’. The following months saw some de-escalation, but when they rose again in late autumn last year, public statements and coverage of the Russian preparations for a renewed and massive invasion, provided by our western partners – namely the US – signalled that the situation was becoming threatening, and by mid-January 2022, it had become really grave.

“Hoping until the end”
I had packed a ‘to-go’ – or emergency – backpack and a small suitcase about a month before the re-invasion. I kept it in the hall, not far from the exit. At that time, and even right before it happened, only about half of the people in Ukraine couldn’t (or just didn’t want to) believe the big invasion was likely, despite the ongoing war in the east of the country – even those who did keep in mind that Russia had been waging this war against us since 2014. To me personally, the last thing that completely broke my hope that we could avoid this horror was the last Biden’s press conference before 24 February, when he openly and very briefly answered a journalist’s question about the imminence of the invasion.

A few weeks before the first blasts were heard in the early morning sky of Kyiv, I wrote on social media that 20 February was going to be an important day for both Ukraine and Taiwan. It was the last day of the Olympics to be held in China, and also of the military drills in Belarus that Russia had announced. Given all the circumstances, it was rather clear then that if they really decide to attack Ukraine, it would be this day, or very soon after.

So, I packed most necessary things and urged my parents to do the same. They didn’t. They kept hoping until the end, like many others.

Both 16 February (the first alleged date of the reinvasion) and 20 February came with a feeling of slight relief. But every night afterwards I went to sleep ready to wake up any moment, with my clothes prepared for an escape from my rented flat on the 10th floor of the 11-story residential building. On Monday 21 February I told my mother that if ‘something’ happens, it will by Thursday.

I am so sorry to have been right.

When I woke up at about 5:30 am on the 24 February in one of the northern districts of Kyiv (closest to the Ukraine-Belarus border), it was due to the explosions I heard. At first, even though I had been fully preparing myself for exactly this situation, my conscience was trying to ‘convince’ me that it was something else and I could keep sleeping.

But next moment I knew I had to get up, get dressed quickly, take my bags and go to the metro located about ten minutes’ walk from home. I had told my mum that if this happens, I’ll try to run to the metro and then get to them by foot, if needed. Fortunately, I got to my parents rather quickly; the city transportation worked as usual then, although the roads were already jammed with cars trying to leave the city.

My dad and I checked the basement of their residential 8-storey building, which could be used as a shelter from rockets and bombs. It wasn’t equipped for that but looked safer than the flat. And still, starting to get used to the state of an all-out war, the next night we decided to stay at home. And the story repeated itself: waking up at about 5 am because of the shelling, going to the basement to hide. But we very soon realised it didn’t make much sense to stay there, so we decided to go to my mum’s home village in the Cherkasy Oblast (region) of Ukraine, taking the bags with food mainly that we prepared on the first day.

The road that took us – a few hours, not much longer than in ‘normal’ times – was surprisingly fast and free. Most of those who wanted to leave Kyiv in this direction had already left, we presumed, although after watching a Russian tank purposefully riding over a car in Kyiv the day before, almost killing the driver, it was really scary to drive. We didn’t see tanks on our way though. But our relatives who had left in this very direction on the first day saw a column and were deeply stressed to be passing them by.

And then a tiresome week in the countryside began for us, the first week of the war.

Military bonds
I have been trying to keep contact with my colleagues (successfully) and working (not so much, but I still have access to my business e-mail box so I’m writing this to you now).

Due to the martial law imposed on Day 1 (24 February, all of the operations of the CIIs (investment funds) and NPFs (non-state pension funds) were ordered to be suspended by the national regulator, the NSSMC (National Securities and Stock Market commission), and data protection measures were imposed. The State Tax Authority waived its tax payment deadlines but urged companies to keep paying them if they could, to help finance the state budget [and by extension] the army. Another state authority decided to simplify the procedure for certifying force majeure for companies.

On 1 March, the NSSMC allowed investment firms (primary dealers) to make operations with government bonds on the secondary market, namely with military bonds (international code: UA4000221436). NSSMC stated that the national capital market participants will need to send regulatory reports within five business days after the end of martial law.

Also, the regulator decided that depository institutions make payments on these government securities, with the exception of transactions in favour of individuals and legal entities that belong to the Russian Federation or the Republic of Belarus or related to these countries. Moreover, safekeepers of CII assets and asset management companies were allowed to make the following operations:

  • Transfer money from CII assets to the special account for the support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (opened by the NBU – National Bank of Ukraine – on Day 1);
  • Until the end of martial law account such operations with the NBU without changing the amount of the net asset value of the CII.

The next day, the regulator suspended all its procedures regarding violations of the capital market regulations and the respective legislation.

The National Bank of Ukraine imposed temporary currency limitations and fixed the official UAH (Ukranian hryvnia) FX rates on Day 1. Later, the head of the NBU updated market players and the population about the measures the central bank is taking and the status of the financial system of Ukraine one week into the war (see YouTube video here).

The Ukrainian people have stood up to the enemy just like the army has, while the political leadership of Ukraine has shown surprising patriotism and determination to defend the country and protect its people from the Russian aggressor and its client state Belarus.

I have participated in both of main national uprisings in Ukraine since Ukraine regained its independence in 1991:  the Orange Revolution in 2004 that defended our right for free and fair elections; and the Revolution of Dignity (Euromaidan) in 2013-14 that started with the aim of keeping Ukraine on track towards its European integration and then turned into a violent confrontation with the corrupt and criminal then-president who abused his powers and was eventually ousted by the people and the parliament. So, I have seen how my nation can come together, unite and work zealously for the common and main goal – preserving Ukraine’s independence, its sovereignty and freedom, its fledgling democracy and return to its ancient European roots.

Watching my beloved Kyiv – the city I was born in and spent my whole life in – being shelled at night was heart-breaking; and even more so, our children scared hiding in shelters, injured and killed by the Russian missiles.

But how inspiring and comforting it is to watch how my nation is coping with the horrors of war, with an amazing sense of humor and calm (for example, see here for one of the hundreds of jokes being made by Ukrainians these days).

We’re happy and proud to see how fearless and confident our army and territorial defence are (btw, they don’t even admit all those who want to join them as there is no need for so many people there, as yet at least). Tens of thousands of Ukrainians, mainly men, are coming back from abroad to help defend the country. They are joined by thousands of foreigners who have decided to join our fight for freedom and democracy – Ukrainians are deeply moved and thankful to them.

I have received dozens of messages from my western friends and colleagues over the course of the past week, with support and care, asking how to help us, rejecting my ‘thank you’ as unnecessary and saying that we’re all in this together, offering shelter for me and my family, or for other Ukrainian refugees. I keep being touched and moved by this show of humanity, support and solidarity, by this unexpected help and everyday sending of warm messages.

It is true that we’re all in this together. Tonight, the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, near the south-eastern city of Zaporizhzhia, was shelled by the Russians. The fire has been extinguished by our brave people, but the enemy has occupied the NPP… So now, the nuclear threat to Europe isn’t just coming from the crazy eastern dictator’s nukes that the whole world had been scared of being applied in this war (and which is still a possibility).

Ukrainians are winning and will prevail in the end, for sure.

We only need some more help with this, namely to close ours and Europe’s skies from shelling and bombs falling on our cities killing civilians, and threatening another and much bigger nuclear disaster that would affect the whole continent.

Thank you for your support, and thank you for this opportunity to speak to your readers and send one more message from Ukraine about how we are going through these most difficult times in the modern history of our country.

Stay calm and support Ukraine – in every way you can. This is how you help defend your own free and bright future.

*Anastasiia Gavryliuk is director of international relations and senior analyst at the Ukrainian Association of Investment Business (UAIB). Anastasiia adds that for anyone who wants to help materially, please see the post by Yale professor Timothy Snyder here.

© 2022 funds europe



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