As Russia and Ukraine rages, employees are caught in the middle

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Ukraine has almost 200,000 IT workers, a report from Stack Overflow said, many of whom work for US companies.

Many of these startups' CEOs, who are in the US, are scrambling to ensure that their employees are safe and to provide them with whatever aid they can, three startups told Insider.

"Our team went from their day-to-day from being employees at a fast-growing, high-tech business to having survival conversations," said Guy Nirpaz, the CEO of the cloud-computing startup Totango. Similarly, Grammarly, the artificial-intelligence proofreading startup founded by three Ukrainian students in 2009, said it was in close contact with its Ukrainian employees as it attempted to ensure their safety.

Madeline Renbarger, Insider's VC and startups reporter, explains more.

What's been the sentiment among the CEOs you've spoken with?

Madeline: CEOs and leaders of American companies have been frustrated about the lack of direct ways they can help their Ukrainian employees, especially while they are under heavy fire from Russian forces in major cities.

How have they been helping their employees in Ukraine?

Madeline: The CEOs that I spoke to are primarily trying to get direct payments to their employees, whether it be financial aid or salary advances. They had also offered to relocate their employees before officials shut down the borders to all Ukrainian men ages 18-60.

What's one thing you've learned in your reporting that's stuck with you?

Madeline: Ever since speaking with Totango CEO Guy Nirpaz, I keep thinking about how even before the border closure, almost all of his employees refused his offer to relocate them. From enlisting in the military and volunteering for the Red Cross, they are fully dedicated to helping their fellow countrymen.

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