We’re sitting in a café at Zoloti Vorota. The water is burbling behind me in the massive fountain. There’s five of us sitting around a small table. We’re talking about the war and of course the discussion asserts itself into the political global reality: this is the beginning of world war three – but because it’s so early, no one really understands this yet. The security expert says this as does the political scientist. “Europe has to realize that this is just the beginning and if they don’t choose a side now, a side will be chosen for them.” Well, that’s bleak but unfortunately probably very true.
The Middle East is f*cked already but the ignition of the next global conflict will be here, in Ukraine. This is where the next generation’s ideological conflict will begin and end. Can it be avoided? Certainly, but is it too late now? Have the European and Western powers dragged their feet to the point where Russia feels it has free reign over its actions in Ukraine? Does Russia feel threatened enough to withdraw or is it comfortable enough in its own superiority to outright invade?
We hear in the West how we’re winning the war but here in Kyiv it’s not so straight-forward. Are they winning the battles or are they simply masking their mistakes well? How will they take Donetsk and Luhansk when they can barely keep what they have won back? There are un-needed battle losses which could have been avoided if the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Health stopped bickering and started working like any normal government agency in the midst of war: corruption here is far from over.
On top of all the fear of war there is also a fear of the politicians remaining the same – that everything changed for the people but nothing has changed for the government and the politicians. Where are the reforms? Where is the lustration law? Why has this been dragging out so much? Everyone here understands there’s a war, no one is blind to that fact. But the government has to move forward and implement reforms before the entire country’s economy goes down the drain. There is now a real fear that a third Maidan will be dramatically different from the first two: there may be more blood the next time. If the politicians don’t start doing their jobs and stop worrying about their own self-interests – there could be an even worse situation in Ukraine.
Of course, all of this was in the backdrop of Kyiv in its finest: Zolotiv Vorota, L’vivske pyvo, laughter and beauty. This will survive anything and this is where there is great hope for Ukraine.