An Open Letter on How to Help the People in Ukraine

Co-founder Alex Lirtsman’s open letter to Ready Set Rocket on how to help the people in Ukraine:


Hello Team!

As many of you already know, on February 24th Russia invaded Ukraine and is waging a vicious and unprovoked war against the people of Ukraine. Yesterday I saw apartment buildings and schools in my old neighborhood in Kyiv hit with missiles. Today’s images of bombed out hospitals, power plants, and train stations is shaking me to the core. 

As a refugee from Kyiv, Ukraine I consider myself incredibly lucky that my parents made a decision to immigrate from the then Soviet Union. Their decision allows me to put my kids tonight not in the shelter of the subway but in beds, or worry about air sirens and cluster bombs, or fighting young Russian soliders on a madmen’s orders. 

As the crisis unfolds and people around the world watch the war escalate in real-time, many are left wondering how they can help. Our actions might be minor, but the minor actions of millions is what brings a more just world. At RSR, we have the privilege to take minor actions but my hope that as others do the same, we can live in a more just and peaceful world:

1. RSR is disengaging from use of tools of companies housed in the Russian Federation ie SEMRush. While the Russian people are not responsible for the actions of their autocratic government, any actions to starve the Russian federation of tax revenue or USD remittances have an impact on their war efforts. 

2. We are updating our 401k plans to divest all mutual funds and ETFs that hold Russian stocks.

3. We have decided to turn down an opportunity with a Russian owned company, with employees and leadership based in Russia. This again is not a statement on the morality or ethics of the Russian people, many of who are braving oppression to protest against this unjust war, but a means by which we can ensure that we do not support companies or employees that remit taxes to the Russian federation. 

4. We will be opening up employee donation matching to any causes that help the Ukrainian people, the wave of refugees this crisis will create, and institutions that support the voices of the Russian people to peacefully demonstrate and protest. 

5. We will pay for housing for any friends and families of employees that are caught in this conflict that are escaping Ukraine.

6. Whenever this invasion is thwarted, we will do everything possible to support Ukrainian businesses. Having worked with Ukrainian technologists and developers, I’m excited and eager to collaborate with them again. Here’s a list of our faves:

If you do want to make a donation to support the people affected by this crisis, please see below for a list of reputable organizations that you can give to or feel free to make a donation to an organization of your choice that is supporting the effort to help the Ukrainian people, and send a receipt to helpukraine@readysetrocket.com so we can make a matching donation. 

  • gofundme.com/f/kharkiv-needs – Communications and support equipment for Ukrainian civil defense units protecting Kharkiv, Ukraine’s 2nd largest city
  • hias.org – This is the organization that is responsible for bringing my family in to the US
  • pah.org.pl – Polish organization helping refugees on the ground
  • pomagam3.wioskisos.org – They focus on orphanages and need extra help. (scroll to the bottom for the information for international wires.)
  • tikvaodessa.org – This organization is evacuating orphans from the city of Odessa
  • wck.org – WCK is serving thousands of fresh meals to Ukrainian refugees and those still in country
  • cookforukraine.org – UNICEF Ukraine appeal, supporting children and families, especially children seperated from their families

This has been personally exhausting to me and while you might not have a personal connection to Ukraine, I am sure this weighs on you. Please remember to take care of yourself! If you need anything at all, or want to chat about the situation in Ukraine, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 

I leave you with a video capturing the beauty of my birthplace as a break from the images on TV: https://youtu.be/b755UgcDQRU

Slava Ukraini!

-Alex