For some, Ukrainian resistance to Russia includes continuing to do their tech jobs even as war rages
Early in 2022, Alex Morozov, Founder and CEO of Carmel-based Swan Software Solutions and a Ukrainian-American, suspected war was coming to his homeland. He sent a strong message to the nearly 150 employees who work for Swan from Ukraine, encouraging them to move to safety and offering financial help to do so.
About 45 of those employees relocated out of Ukraine before Russia invaded the country on February 24. They, and those that remain in Ukraine, continue to work, delivering for Swan’s clients despite being in a literal war zone. Many of them wanted to join the volunteer army fighting against Russian invaders.
Morozov, who spent two years as a Soviet soldier before the collapse of the Soviet Union, had blunt advice for them.
“I told them, ‘You guys are not professional soldiers. You are developers. By continuing to work, you are helping Ukraine, too,’” he said.
Keeping client work flowing has enabled Swan Solutions to help Ukraine resistance. In addition to humanitarian aid, Morozov works to raise awareness of the need for Ukrainian support across all fronts. He is also encouraging Americans to understand the global implications of a war more than 5,000 miles away.
If Ukraine falls to Russia, Poland will be invaded next, he predicted. Because of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) provisions that war against one NATO member is war against them all, that would trigger a war that will require the U.S. to send soldiers to war – something the U.S. is currently resisting even as it is supporting Ukraine via sanctions against Russia and other actions.
Swan Software has seven employees, including its board of directors, in Carmel, and six offices across Ukraine. The country is the second largest European country, after only Russia. Its 233,000 square miles would stretch from Missouri to the Atlantic Ocean and from Ohio to Georgia. And it has a thriving tech sector whose web developers have a strong, international reputation for stellar work.
Born in Kyiv, Morozov came to the U.S. when he was 23 for what he thought was a short visit and has been here ever since. In 1996, he was working as the IT director for a U.S. financial company when he first reached out to Ukrainian connections to hire a remote workforce. Eight years later, he launched Swan Software Solutions, with a fully remote workforce. Many of his team has been with the company for more than 11 years and many clients have similar tenures.
Since the war began, Morozov said he’s heard from former as well as current clients asking how they can help, checking on him and the health of his team. Many are joining Swan’s fundraising efforts.
Because of the vastness of Ukraine and its strong resistance, coupled with economic decline in Russia, Morozov doesn’t think his country will be overtaken. He foresees a time when it will instead be one of the strongest allies of the U.S.
For now, he worries, even as he rallies support and works to provide emotional as well as financial support to his teams. His 83-year-old father, a brother and sister-in-law remain in Kyiv.
He’s been touched by the overwhelming support shown to his country. “The Ukrainian people will always be thankful to America for all the help and support given in these tough times,” he wrote two days before the invasion began.
Many Hoosiers, including those in the Indiana tech community, are looking for ways to help Ukrainians. In some cases, outpourings of support are because they, like Swan Software, have teams working remotely from Ukraine. Others are Ukrainian immigrants themselves or have workers with Ukrainian heritage. For others, it’s purely a humanitarian response.
Franciscan Health is working with the Illinois Division of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America to ship 100,000 pounds of emergency medical supplies to Poland, where they can be taken across the border into Ukraine.
Amy Brown, founder and CEO of Authenticx, has no direct connection to Ukraine but wrote to Nataly Veremeeva, executive director of Tech Ukraine (an organization similar to TechPoint), asking how Hoosiers could help.
“I was surprised she had time to answer questions from someone she doesn’t know but I believe she, like others there, is desperate to accept help from any corner,” Brown said.
Another connection Brown hopes to make is to a Ukrainian tech company so she and her team can offer emotional, financial or other support in a lasting way. Vermeeva is helping make the match, and Brown says other Indiana companies could do the same. The pair, along with TechPoint, are in the early stages of developing a process to make those Indiana Tech-Ukraine Tech connections.
Among other suggestions Veremeeva offered was one some may think wouldn’t make a huge difference. She asked that Hoosier tech companies add their voices to calls to stop the war, and to stop doing business with Russia if they have connections there.
Veremeeva pointed interested tech leaders to a post that says, in part, “modern technology is one of the strongest answers to beat the tanks and missiles attacking our homes and our people. In this open letter, we ask you to do what is under your control—block your services in Russia and help end Putin’s reign of terror. By doing so, you can express solidarity with the suffering Ukrainians and show that tech businesses can help with sanctioning Russia, not just governments. You have the power to do that, and we ask you to take responsibility and help us.”
Veremeeva’s post includes a long list of companies that are pulling out of Russia in protest of the invasion. Additional announcements of temporary suspension of doing business in Russian came last week from Visa, Mastercard, American Express, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Electric.
Cummins, which employs more than 700 people in Russia, has stopped some of its operations in Russia. For many years, it has prohibited its products from being used in Russian military and defense operations.
“We have halted some of our operations, but we are continuing to conduct business with Russia that supports the health and safety of citizens on the ground where Cummins equipment powers parts of the agricultural sector, hospitals and many other elements of daily life and not for the defense or military,” the company said. “Our intent is to limit the impact on citizens who are not participants in this invasion.
Cummins has condemned Russia’s actions and is actively working with community organizations, especially in Romania and Poland, to determine how the company can assist as the refugees arrive in new communities. Cummins is working with its grant making partner, Global Giving, which has launched a Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund. All donations to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund will support humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine and surrounding regions where Ukrainian refugees have fled.
Dan O’Toole, founder and CEO of DRONEDEK, was ahead of the curve in severing connections to Russia. He was in the process of seeking a patent extension for his smart mailbox. On Feb 28, he secured unanimous board of director approval to end those plans, which will mean he won’t be able to protect his patents in Russia in the future.
“We can’t do business with a country that would do this,” he said. “No one should.”
O’Toole admits that his pre-revenue, small company doesn’t have the national heft of Google or Amazon, but said he hoped to provide an example that small companies banding together can send a powerful message, too.
Veremeeva suggested the following sites as credible and reliable gateways to assistance:
- The official website of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- CEO Club Ukraine, a private intellectual club that has been uniting business leaders for development, communication, and cooperation for the last 10 years.
- The TechUkraine.org website and LinkedIn account, normally a tech-focused trove of tech content, the site is; now focused on the war: https://www.linkedin.com/company/techukraine
Morozov offers additional ways to help Ukrainians:
- Providing Help for Orphans https://www.facebook.com/velykisercia/
- Helping Wounded Ukrainian Soldiers https://www.rsukraine.org/
- Help Equip the Ukrainian Army https://bank.gov.ua/en/news/all/natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv-spetsrahunok-dlya-zboru-koshtiv-na-potrebi-armiyi
- Help Equip Ukrainian Army with a Simple Wire Transfer by following the directions below.
For those who want to donate funds to financial institutions, Morozov has direct instructions here.