Kyiv Day 4-5: What I learned in Kyiv over the last couple of Days


I’ve decided (forced to actually) to write about the last two days in Kyiv in one go. It was an insanely busy trip filled with interviews, talks, chats, beers, lunches and dinners. I’ve sorted out what I wanted to say about this past week in bullet points (the 3 hours of sleep is making it hard to come up with full sentences, so I’m taking the easy way out!)

Overall impression: I really hate Russians – those who wholeheartedly support this stupid war of theirs in the Donbas – and Russian apologists. If I actually met any of them (since they all seem to not want to travel outside of Russia itself), I think someone is going to have to physically stop me from throwing punches. It’s frustrating as hell to watch what’s going on in Kyiv and not feel that way. Most of the progress that could have been done regarding reforms has been stalled due to the war. Frustration levels with politicians is up and there’s a serious simmering of possibilities of a third Maidan. If that happens, I truly don’t know what will happen to that wonderful, dysfunctional country we call our homeland. Therefore: Putin Huilo!

Number 2: After talking to some activists and politicians, it’s clear as day that this entire movement and Revolution was created and sustained by the young people of Ukraine. And thank God for them! Their motivations, their want and their abilities is exactly what this country needs. They seem to never give up, and if they have their low period, there’s always someone standing next to them to pick up the pieces. I’ve never seen anything like it and their movement should be an example to everyone interested in changing society for the better. One example among a sea of many: my friend Marichka. She doesn’t need to do this but does so with every opportunity she’s given. She goes and sings to the wounded soldiers and those soldiers stationed along the front lines. She does it because she knows that’s how she can best support these men and women: by her singing. They love it and she has a truly loving relationship with these guys. It’s almost beautiful to watch – the way they react to her. I’m just blessed enough to know her and see what she does and how she does it. I’ve told her many times during this last visit: Марічка – я тебе люблю і ніколи не перестань робити що ти робиш (але пам’ятай про що ми ховорили про!!!).

Number 3: Post-military march, I watched bus-loads of young soldiers drive by and everyone stopped and clapped since we all knew where they were heading. It broke my heart. How did we get here? Why? Because we wanted something better? And now we’re sending these young men out to protect our freedoms? Freedoms that were won by enough bloodshed? Thus, glance back up to ‘overall impression’.

Number 4: The higher ups in almost all of the ministries need to be fired. And quickly! Most of the upper elite of the military are useless or worse actually working for the Russians. When I was talking to some wounded soldiers they basically said: they could set their watches to when their commanding general would walk out to ‘inspect’ their operations (about once a day). That particular group sustained 18 hours (hours!!!) of heavy artillery bombardment in one day while their general stayed behind the operational lines and waited it out. It was so bad an Afghan Army medic quit that same day (he spend 3 years in Afghanistan but couldn’t last a single day in this war). This old generation of Soviet style management/leadership needs to be eradicated from the Ukrainian system in order for it to be able to move toward a more liberalized system of governance. The question then becomes: well what do we do after we fire all of these people? Give them the same minimal rent they gave senior citizens! That’s what!

Number 5: The diaspora is a truly strong entity in Ukraine. That cannot be denied. We’ve supported them in every moment of every tragedy. We’ve cried with them, we’ve mourned their dead and we continue to do so. But we can be some much more! There’s really important work that’s been happening by the Diaspora in Kyiv but we’re dropping the ball on things far too many times (mostly because we like to bicker like children). The Patriot Defence is an excellent initiative of the CKY, but it needs to be fully and completely supported by us. It should become the one and only humanitarian initiative we officially support. It was created by the Diaspora, it’s financed by the Diaspora and should be wholeheartedly support by us too! Basically, if you don’t already know: they buy military (NATO-backed) first aid kits for front-line soldiers and they go out and train them on how to use it so we have less casualties on the front. I realize that many of our Diaspora projects are important and we should continue to support them, but let’s be realistic. If we have a humanitarian crisis in our own Ukrainian army – all of those other initiatives and donations are basically useless. The Ukrainian military is the only thing keeping Ukraine alive at the moment: if we lose them, we’re screwed! That’s why I’m making this appeal: $100 can basically save a soldier’s live. How much is $100 worth to you? Is that purse or shoes or whatever else more important to you than a soldier’s life? A soldier who volunteered to fight in an army we all know isn’t as good as Russia’s but he’s willing to risk his life and limbs for this country! Why aren’t we consolidating our support to this?

Слава Україні! And I’ll see you again Kyiv, hopefully sooner rather than later!

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