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31_05_22

Ukraine mini-series: Episode 2 – Top 10 Risk Mitigation Measures for Ukraine

Atrium is currently one of very few Lloyd’s market insurers to provide Accident & Health cover to individuals and groups entering Ukraine. In the second of our four-part mini-series, we asked Inherent Risks for their Top 10 Risk Mitigation Measures for individuals and organisations entering the war-torn country. Inherent Risks is our chosen risk advisory partner in Ukraine.

Inherent Risks has had a continuous presence in Ukraine since the conflict with Russia began, and is the exclusive emergency medical assistance, evacuation and incident response provider for Atrium, covering individuals and organisations working and volunteering in the country.

Read on to understand some of the measures that aid agencies, NGOs and media companies should be taking to mitigate the risks their staff face inside Ukraine.

Top 10 Risk Mitigation Measures for Ukraine

Collated by specialist risk advisory firm, Inherent Risks.

1. Operational Security and Personal Security (OPSEC & PERSEC)

Operational Security and Personal Security starts long before you deploy. Don’t post future plans, routes or locations on social media and remember that “walls have ears”. Unguarded talk can compromise everyone’s safety, especially in airports, planes, hotel rooms, restaurants and bars.

2. Pretentious Job Titles

Poorly thought out job titles such as 'Director of Intelligence' or 'Counter Terrorism Consultant' place the individual, and anyone travelling with or near them, in danger. Or, at the very least, in a position of embarrassment. Even prior to entering Ukraine, bordering countries are becoming even more stringent (and suspicious) on their checks of people, luggage and cargo. This is before even encountering Ukrainian customs officers and border guards. Then, once inside Ukraine, nervous and inexperienced soldiers on checkpoints are searching for their enemies. Not to mention, the consequences if you are captured by Russian forces.

3. SIM cards

Recent Heat Maps have been released showing active Russian SIM cards inside Ukraine and consequently the locations of Russian troops. Meanwhile, intelligence reports indicating that foreign fighters helping Ukraine were targeted through their UK and US SIM cards being geolocated by Russia. Therefore, it is advised that all mobile phones entering Ukraine should have a local Ukrainian SIM only.


4. Vehicle Marking Identification

For aid and media organisations with vehicle marking identification, such as ‘UN’ or ‘TV’, considerations need to be made for the fact that from a distance, or different angle, especially on a dirty vehicle, to conscripted Ukrainian troops who are not used to a foreign alphabet, those letters can be mistaken for a ‘Z’ or an ‘A’, which are both identification markers of Russian military vehicles.


5. Personal Protective Equipment

Individuals can carry body armour with Kevlar plates and Kevlar helmets into Ukraine for personal use only. Import licenses are required to transport these items in bulk as they are on the ‘Sensitive Products’ list. Organisations need to factor this into their operations planning process. This should also take into consideration that there is currently a global shortage of protective equipment and orders need to be made several weeks prior to deployment.

6. High-Risk Insurance

It’s estimated that over 75% of organisations and individuals entering Ukraine to work and volunteer since the conflict began have done so without purchasing emergency evacuation or medical cover. Insurance is an essential part of any duty of care and travel risk management policy. It not only provides peace of mind that specialist medical and security assistance professionals are on standby to provide immediate advisory and response, but it also covers evacuation and medical costs. These include repatriation, as well as dismemberment, disability and/or death benefits if the worst-case scenario should happen.

For an instant insurance quote, go to: www.HotspotCover.com

7. Road Traffic Accidents

As with most conflict and post-conflict regions, road traffic accidents have ranked high on the most likely cause of injury/death in Ukraine since the conflict began. Poor road conditions, unconventional driving styles, driving long distances without taking breaks, unfamiliar road signs, and even overloaded or unevenly distributed cargo, can all be associated risk factors. Serious consideration needs to be given during the planning phases to reduce these risks.

8. Insecure Wi-Fi

Insecure communications continue to be the weakest part of organisational cyber security measures. This not only includes the risks associated with using public Wi-Fi at hotels, restaurants and coffee shops, but considerations need to be made for Bluetooth settings and connections between mobile phones, laptops, and even wireless headphones, which can all increase cyber vulnerabilities.


9. Corruption and Organised Crime

In 2021, Transparency International ranked Ukraine as the second-highest corrupt country in Europe. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there has been a strong presence of organised mafia-style groups in Ukraine. When you factor in the millions of dollars of aid entering the country since the conflict with Russia began, and the billions of dollars promised by the EU and NATO, it’s reasonable to predict that almost all organisations operating in the country will experience, or become a victim of, corruption.


10. Supply-Chain Shortages

Primarily, there is a significant fuel shortage across Ukraine. Vehicles are waiting for up to five hours at fuel stations and fuel is being restricted to 20-litres per vehicle. Customs officers are also restricting fuel being taken into Ukraine from bordering countries to 20 litres. This is having a significant impact on organisations and individuals working and volunteering in the region, as well as causing delivery delays of essential food, medications and equipment throughout the country.

If you would like to donate to the Ukraine Assistance Fund email: Ukraine@inherentrisks.com. Every penny goes straight to those in need.

And to find out more about Atrium’s Accident & Health cover in Ukraine, contact: Peter.Laidlaw@atrium-uw.com or access via the team at hotspotcover.com.

About Inherent Risks

Inherent Risks is a specialist risk advisory, emergency assistance and crisis management firm with a 24/7 response centre providing immediate medical and security advice, assistance and evacuation services.