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Open letter to supply chain leaders: Ukraine needs humanitarian relief

As Martin Luther King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’

Unity march in Ukraine. (Photo: Shutterstock)

This commentary was written by Benjamin Gordon, managing partner at Cambridge Capital.

Dear fellow supply chain leader,

There are moments in history that we all remember: Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. Dec. 25, 1991, when the Soviet hammer and sickle flag lowered for the last time and President Gorbachev resigned. Sept. 11, 2001, when America was attacked by al-Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden’s terrorists hijacked four planes and killed 3,000 people.

I believe we’re again facing one of those defining moments.

On Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia first massed 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, surrounding it from the north, east and south. The following week, Russia launched the largest European mobilization of forces since World War II. 

Vladimir Putin’s army has killed thousands of innocent Ukrainians and has driven close to 1 million defenseless Ukrainians from their homes. The Russian military has shelled hospitals, schools, apartments, concert halls and even the Kharkiv Cathedral. 

Nothing is sacred and nowhere is safe.

It seems like we have gone backward to a barbaric time. We may all feel powerless when we watch the carnage.

Some shrug and say, why should we care? Ukraine is a faraway land. But while Kyiv may be 6,000 miles away, the massacre there affects us all. As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

So what can we do?

I believe we in the supply chain world can and should be a part of the solution. As Gen. Omar Bradley said after leading the Allies to victory in World War II, “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.” And indeed, many of our friends in the supply chain world have taken initiative.

One friend started Project Dynamo, evacuating people from war-torn cities like Kyiv and Odessa. Another colleague at SEKO has committed to providing free transportation for emergency supplies. And other friends of BGSA and Cambridge Capital in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Israel, Ukraine, India and various countries in Europe are donating time and resources.

There are many needs on the ground, and so much we can do:

Donate money. Multiple worthy organizations are providing emergency rescue and relief services. I am working closely with the JDC, which has a centurylong history of outstanding disaster relief amid dangerous circumstances, in Russia, Ukraine and worldwide. I’m sure Project Dynamo, the Red Cross and others would welcome financial support too.

Contribute food, medicine and supplies. Ukraine faces shortages of vital hospital supplies, including tourniquets, stretchers, splints, morphine, ambulances and much more.

Provide transportation. Thankfully, we just secured a commitment from SEKO Worldwide to provide free transportation. But we will need more help, for trucks, flights and more.

Secure buses and drivers. To evacuate more people, we need more buses and drivers. Ideally we would find buses in neighboring European countries, as well as people willing to drive.

Arrange housing. Close to 1 million Ukrainians have already fled their homes. And with a country of over 40 million people, we could be in the early innings of the largest refugee wave since World War II. We will need to arrange housing, particularly in neighboring countries like Poland, Romania and Hungary.

For most of us, the easiest way to help is money. Please give what you can. If you are able to help, please contact me directly at [email protected]. Beyond funding, if you can provide resources in any other area, whether transportation-related or otherwise, please share that too.

When I was in Kyiv last September, I visited Babi Yar, the site where Nazis massacred 40,000 Jews in a two-day period. A sign commemorated the massacre: “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” This line, from Genesis 4:10, reflects God’s admonition to Cain after discovering the murder of his brother Abel. I am hard-pressed to find a more apt description of what the Russian army is doing to its defenseless neighbors to the West in Ukraine. And on cue, Russia bombed Babi Yar.

I hope you will join me in doing what we can to support our brethren, in Ukraine and beyond, in their time of need.


Benjamin Gordon

About the author

Benjamin Gordon is founder and managing partner of Cambridge Capital. He is an active civic leader who is committed to giving back to the community and has also served on the boards of several non-profit groups.

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