Property professionals ‘appalled’ over Russia, Ukraine conflict

Some property professionals took to social media on Friday and over the weekend to express their dismay at the unfolding situation in Ukraine.

Peace talks are now reportedly taking place between the two states, but not before posts on LinkedIn such as this from Karim Bohn, CFO at Patrizia on Friday:

‘I am appalled by yesterday's invasion of Ukraine. I never imagined war would return to Europe. War only brings destruction, misery and death – the antithesis of what we want to build for a better future. And this attack on Ukraine is an attack on our European order based on freedom, democracy and the values of openness and peaceful co-existence.’

He added: ‘My thoughts are with the Ukrainian people, and the many Russians who do not support this. This is a dark chapter for Europe, and we can only hope that a strong, united response will help reason prevail.’

His post has so far attracted over 20 responses from contacts, many of them real estate professionals.

Mirroring politicians and mainstream media in the West as well as the outpouring of compassion from around the world, the comments were unanimously in support of Ukraine.

Stephanie Schneider said: ‘Very relieved to see more and more companies & their management taking a clear stance on what is going on in the Ukraine. At least this is something we learned. Thank you.’

Graham Langley, based in Munich, said: ‘As someone with relatives in Ukraine I appreciate your post. It is good to know we have a CFO who knows real values.’

Many personal stories began to emerge via property professionals.

CBRE Ukraine said: 'Today we and our families are trying our best to be safe, with some of us joining the army and volunteer defense unit to stand for our freedom and independence! But because freedom is not free, we will be grateful for your support of our Army financially.'

Adrian Karczewicz, head of divestments CEE at Skanska, has distant relatives close to Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine. ‘Yesterday, I had a call that they managed to find some friends who will take them to Slovakia. Why to Slovakia? Because there are 30km (48-60hrs) traffic jams at the Polish border! I have travelled to pick up two mothers and their kids: Maxym, Ivan, Lila and Viki.’ 

‘Why am I sharing this with you? Because they could just have lost their lives as many other Ukrainian children and their mothers in the last few days. And I urge you to use all the means to put pressure on your politicians in Germany, France and other countries. Ukrainians are fighting for their but also our freedom. They want to see smile not fear and tears on their children’s faces, have a nice dinner together, go to school, cinema or for summer vacation as we all do! They have their dreams but most of everything they want to live in peace! We all need to follow the 11th commandment: don’t be a bystander, speak up!'

Robert Dobrzycki, CEO of logistics giant, Panattoni, said companies in Europe could not be indifferent to the ‘brutal attack’ and war in Ukraine.

‘Panattoni also joins not only in individual and charitable assistance, but also in help for business. In the face of numerous inquiries, we (have organised) free warehouses for production plants and companies from Ukraine, which are forced to urgently move their business outside the area of hostilities.'

Ingrida Vizbaraite, CEO of Brolis Timber based in Lithuania, said: ‘I am appalled to witness how many business people from so called democratic countries are afraid to speak up, to take side. “Because they do not mix business with politics.” C’mon, since when (have) those ebidta values (been) more important than the core human values of freedom and life?!?!? Silence is an act of approval to the brutal crimes of Putin. We stand with Ukraine!’

Patrizia professional, Galyna Permyakova based in the Netherlands, said she was sharing her home with those in need, following the initiative.

Given her colleague, Bohn, is based in Germany where Patrizia's HQ is located, his comments attracted responses about Germany’s stance in the unfolding conflict.

‘Hopefully more and more Germany people will understand that and won’t be afraid to express thoughts loud!’ said Ingas Zabielskas.

Kestutis Eidukonis said: ‘All things happen for a reason. Not sure this invasion would have happened if Germany had acted earlier. But Putin has succeeded IN UNITING UKRAINE and THE WHOLE WORLD AGAINST HIM. Hopefully it is just a matter of a short time before he is overthrown for "the good of Russia and World Peace".’

The crisis has already seen pressure placed upon Russian banks.

Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank and a major property lender, is facing bankruptcy after being hit hard by the western sanctions. The European Central Bank said Sberbank Europe, with subsidiaries in Croatia and Slovenia, is likely to fail after its liquidity position deteriorated sharply following mass cash withdrawals by customers.