Kiev, Ukraine visit: impressions

Kiev

A short business trip brought me to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. And while I know some Ukrainians, it was my first actual visit to the country.

European, but no EU

Ukraine is not a part of the European Union, but the first thing that caught my eye was the number of official buildings that carry the European flag. When I discussed this with friends in Kiev, they explained that Ukraine would love to be a part of the EU and that the flag is kind of a hope to be part one day. 

Conflicts

Ukraine is at the core of the most visible conflict between Europe and Russia. Some of the people that are part of number team in Ukraine send some of the salaries they make to relatives and friends who still fight against the Russian insurgents in the Crimean Peninsula. And that was the direct escalation of protests that started in Kiev

On the independence square in Kiev, signs remember the bloody days of February 2014
On the independence square in Kiev, signs remember the bloody days of February 2014

That protest had its most violent turn in the early days of  2014: Kiev was the scene of a protest that turned out violent and left many ordinary citizens dead.

It reminded me of my visit to Lithuania, where the fear of war is something that is part of the daily life. 

Ukraine as technology hub

But in Kiev, the war is far away, and the conflict has made room for a prosperous city. Many young people here work in technology, for Western companies. The team I’m visiting here is no different. When we searched for software engineers, we had trouble assembling a team and turned to Ukraine. The software developers and database engineers I manage remotely here are part of a growing contingent of people working for staffing agencies selling services to EU and US companies. 

Population fall & Brain drain

As happens in the Baltic States, many young professionals try to obtain their paper to emigrate to the USA and to Western Europe, where the well-trained professionals can help fill in the thousands of professional jobs. 

The brain drain in Ukraine creates a demographic inequality, making it harder for women to meet men their age.
The brain drain in Ukraine creates a demographic inequality, making it harder for women to meet men their age.

The brain drain is also the cause of raising salaries in Ukraine. The advantage of having cheaper labor than the west, is slowly but surely fading away. 

Kiev - Ukraine
Kiev – Ukraine
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