How a Ukrainian Economist Is Fighting the Russians

For the past three weeks Tymofiy Mylovanov, president of the Kyiv School of Economics in Ukraine, has been witnessing the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine firsthand -- working from within a war zone to bring desperately needed medical supplies to the country. Mylovanov, an economics professor and former minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture for the Ukrainian government, is directing fundraising and other aid efforts from his base in Lviv in western Ukraine. Below are the lightly edited highlights of his Twitter Spaces conversation with Bloomberg Opinion columnist Scott Duke Kominers, where he discusses the economic and humanitarian disaster unfolding in his home country and shares his personal experiences of the shock of war.

Scott Duke Kominers: First, I wonder if you could just tell us a little bit about what you’re seeing and how your job has evolved in the context of war.

Tymofiy Mylovanov: The way to understand it is that the first two weeks is a sprint and after that it’s like a marathon. In the beginning you really put in all your energy and you feel you need more oxygen. You have plans and you execute them a little bit like a machine. And after a couple of weeks, you start reconsidering your new status quo. It’s not as intense, it’s just very difficult to make a next step. And the challenge now is not to fall down. It’s amazing how fast it has become normal -- not a good normal, but a new normal.

Kominers: So talk us through what a “new normal” day is like.

Mylovanov: I wake up in the morning and check the news and I post on Facebook and Twitter to let people see that I’m okay. I check news to see who got bombed. I use my connections in the government to figure out what has really happened — is it a big deal or not a big deal? The day before yesterday, for example, there was a missile attack on the training center [near Lviv]. I was driving to Lviv and I see paramedics coming towards me one after another. So then I know it was big. And so you try to make sense out of it and to understand whether it is dangerous where you are, whether you need to move your people who run the operations. I still run the Kyiv School of Economics, which is a university, so we are doing checkups daily.