Podcast 🎧 & blog: Ukraine is under attack, and our team stayed there

02.03.2022 | Federico Plantera


This week, the world looks quite different from what it used to. Yet again we’re here to say this, and see the dramatic consequences of what unfolds, for the second time in the span of two years. Yet again, as spring approaches, we’re here to talk about a tragedy taking shape just before our eyes – the war in Ukraine.

No wonder that this episode of the Digital Transformation Podcast is different in and of itself. Oleh Burba is not a war correspondent, but a Component Leader in our EU4DigitalUA team in the capital, Kyiv. With him, we look at how safety suddenly had to become the priority, and how the e-Governance Academy team there is dealing with the quickly escalating conflict.


In Ukraine, spring comes and brings war once again

It is now a week that the war in Ukraine has started. Russia has invaded the country and over 600 000 people are seeking shelter in neighbouring countries to escape the horror of this act of aggression. Many more are in the country fighting to keep alive the reality – not a dream – of an independent Ukraine.

“It’s the second time that, for Ukraine, spring equals to a ‘Russian spring’. The first was in 2014, and it brought war. Now we’re in it again, and we must defend ourselves from the Russian aggression,” Burba points out.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have died in the past eight years and now the tragedy has reached a whole other level of horror. “The last six days have showed the world that this war is all out, inhumane, with many children and women killed, rockets and air strikes hitting residential areas. However, Ukrainians believe in the force of our army and that victory over Russian Troops will be achieved. Also, because there are many, many friends supporting us in Europe and around the world too,” Burba says.


‘A text message in the morning’ – Where and how is eGA’s team doing

With Kyiv becoming a battlefield – as most parts of eastern Ukraine too – it is only logical that the priority became safety, defence, protection. All members of eGA’s Ukrainian team remained in the country, now scattered in villages and cities across West Ukraine. But some colleagues are still in Kyiv. “One of them is there today, hiding in a metro station with her daughter and old father. Of course, we’re very worried about her,” Burba warns.

“Clearly, the escalating aggression has disrupted our plans and work rhythm because our activities are very close to those of Ukrainian authorities. We’re in unnormal working conditions now. Many of my colleagues are forced to hide in shelters during air strikes. Usually, in the morning, we text in our communication channel that we survived the night,” Burba describes.

“But still, to this day, we are working with Ukrainian government authorities to preserve the IT infrastructure and data. We are continuing our work and help keep running e-government and e-services in the country, amidst all of this. Right now, we are even preparing the mutual recognition of Ukrainian digital signature in the EU. It will help authorities in our country with administrative tasks and Ukrainian refugees in Europe to submit applications. I think this is very inspirational, I see that effect on myself too,” Burba proudly explains.


e-Governance Academy in Ukraine

Burba has been working for e-Governance Academy in Ukraine for four years, since 2018, and was responsible for the implementation of the country’s own data exchange platform – the Trembita system. Based on the interoperability ecosystem that powers information exchange in Estonia, the Trembita system too ensures electronic interactions between state registers and contributes significantly to the development and availability of e-services in Ukraine.

This takes us to why eGA has a team over there. Our commitment and involvement in the country’s digital transformation journey is longstanding – it began in 2012.

The 21-strong team there is active on diverse lines of work to help the country achieve efficient and secure public service delivery, as well as increase digital access and availability of services. Supported also by more than 20 international experts, from an institutional point of view, eGA’s team in Ukraine works locally in close cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Transformation and 16 other government agencies.


A few words before you go – Slava Ukraini!

Surely, readers have started seeing these two words – Slava Ukraini! – whether in Ukrainian or their romanized rendition – more than ever before these past days. It is a national salute, and a tribute to those fighting for the independence of Ukraine, a symbol of resistance. It means “Glory to Ukraine!

The ongoing aggression poses indeed an existential threat to the country now on all cover stories of media outlets around the world. As today’s podcast host Kristina Mänd notes, “This is a serious wake up call for many people in Western Europe and overseas too. They had to shift from not believing to disbelief,” both horror and surprise.

We shall not let this go with the news flow as time passes and, as long as needed, support Ukraine in its fight for freedom and independence. For the time being, to everyone reading this out there, perhaps even in conflicted areas, stay safe. And Slava Ukraini!


Contribute to support Ukrainians in the fight for democracy in Europe and the freedom of Ukraine!

International Red Cross, https://www.icrc.org/en

Doctors Without Borders, http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

United Help to Ukraine, http://www.unitedhelpukraine.org/

Ukraina heaks, https://www.ukrainaheaks.ee/ (in Estonia)