Half a year of war in Ukraine: Interview with Valeriy Leonov. Hapag-Lloyd spoke with Valeriy Leonov, Managing Director of their office in Odessa and asked him about the current developments in Ukraine.
We should abstain from political assumptions of any kind, but what is worth mentioning: some external factors’ influence on the course of this conflict is extremely strong, maybe even decisive. This leaves us with a lot of uncertainty. Currently, the Ukrainian economy is highly dependent on external loans. Needless to mention that entire industrial branches had to stop or reduce their operations due to disrupted supply chains, a lack of manpower, blocked ports, the occupation of Ukrainian territory by Russia, and so on. Along with the rest of Europe, we wonder what the upcoming winter season might bring. The energy crisis will hit energy dependent industries, like metalworks and the chemical industry, hard. It will also significantly impact the agricultural sector, our largest export industry. Despite all of the above, my countrymen need to continue to live, work and fight simultaneously.
We do our best to continue our business activities while coping with the new reality of being a land-locked country. Demand for container transports to and from Ukraine is still high. After the first shock, major container carriers adapted and now continue their operations via Romania, North Europe and the Adriatic ports. Together with the Region South Europe, we adopted a business plan to retain a presence in Ukraine with the goal of reaching 1,000 TEU per month by the end of 2022. That would give us an outlook for the future and the chance to continue to live our lives here in Odessa. Two colleagues from our office have been relocated to Bucharest, Romania during June and July. They supported to Ukrainian customers to release their end-of-voyage cargo, which blocked the port of Constanta. This has been very successful. Now they are both back in Odessa.
After about six months, we got accustomed to our new reality. Most of us got used to regular air raid alerts to the extent that almost no one hides anymore. On the contrary, children continue to play, people keep sitting and chatting in cafés and restaurants. The city just carries on with life. Many of my countrymen returned from abroad with their children during these last two months. This is a very encouraging sight.
Definitely. One of the surprising facts of this war is that almost all vital infrastructure is still intact. Many Ports, highways, bridges, power and water stations that are not located at the frontline have not been targeted. Most of the governmental and municipal services that were suspended during the first couple of months are now back to normal. I need to emphasize, however, that this applies only to territories west of the frontline.
I would say that I have become more focused and responsible. Every new day might bring new challenges that could affect our relatives, our work and our colleagues. This prospect makes you plan ahead for all eventualities and their possible consequences. We need to be proactive. I also learned to live my life one day at a time. That might seem like a contradiction to my previous statement, but it really is not.
I want to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to our company for the way it cares for its personnel. We already shared this sentiment several times during our regular weekly roll calls in MS-Teams. Many people around us are not as lucky. We appreciate this very much, and we will pay it back by delivering new business opportunities as they present themselves. In my opinion, that is the appropriate response. We should never think of ourselves as victims.
We also see, that the “Hapag-Lloyd Cares” campaign uses its volunteer concept to benefit many ordinary Ukrainians and their families, extending help even to those having no relation to the company at all. Help never stopped coming. This is very encouraging to see. What all of us need the most right now is work. We will just have to be inventive until Ukraine produces enough cargo again.
I prefer messaging services as a source because I have the feeling that the news media spreads a lot of propaganda and major social networks are being censored. I do consult them for economy, business and industrial news, however. Together with comments from messaging apps, this helps me get a good overview.
I draw a lot of strength from the feeling of being useful to my family, colleagues and company. My personal goal is to remain sane in these constantly changing hostile surroundings. To this end, I enjoy doing sports outdoors – like running and swimming in the sea, as well as reading books about history. They provide perspective on possible outcomes of our current situation.
From 2008 to 2021, Valeriy was the third-party agency Managing Director for Hapag-Lloyd. In June 2021, he became responsible for of Hapag-Lloyd’s 20-people team in Odessa, Ukraine.
This article is shared by courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd – www.hapag-lloyd.com/ – 253 modern ships, 11.9 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) transported per year, 14,300 motivated employees in more than 400 offices in 137 countries. Hapag-Lloyd is a leading global liner shipping company and a powerful partner for you.