February 25, 2023

One year on in the Russia-Ukraine conflict

It was about this time, news was a-buzz with the talk of tanks lining up on Russia’s western border, then crossing over into Ukraine in a conflict that was meant to be over in a little over a fortnight.

Time must move slow for Vladimir Putin — 12 months in real time and they’re still at it! So that’s approximately one “Putin Day” equates to approximately 26 real days for the rest of us. (Some would argue the conflict actually began in 2014 — I guess there’s some merit in that opinion, but things really began heating up 12 months ago.)

I’ve actually learned a lot about the place. Okay, “a lot” is a relative measure, what I actually know could be scribbled onto the back of a postage stamp with a thick permanent marker, however I am picking up tidbits here and there.

12 months ago, I actually had to frequently correct my spelling — I kept missing the “i” (i.e. “Ukrane”). I wasn’t aware Chernobyl was actually on Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus (or that Belarus was even their northern neighbour). I might’ve heard of Moldova, but wasn’t sure where it was, I had not heard of the disputed territory of Transnistria. Nor did I realise they shared their western border with Poland.

Over the last 12 months I’ve slowly become a bit more familiar with where some of their more major cities are: Lviv in the west, the port cities of Odesa, Mykolaiv (and the general Kherson area — watermelon territory) and we heard lots about Mariupol, particularly the steelworks there. Dnipro and Luhansk in the east, Kharkiv and Sumy in the north-east… Kyiv up in the north.

Point me to a blank map 12 months ago and I wouldn’t have had much idea where those places were, but I have a vague idea now.

I could spot Cyrillic writing before this conflict but couldn’t read any of it. Today while I can’t identify the language, I’m starting to be able to pick out individual letters and recognise the odd word. Various news articles have covered various aspects of the Ukrainian culture. Of course, the before-and-after photos that pop up from time to time showing what was, and what’s just been pulverised by Russian shelling reveal a lot of ornate buildings that are now little more than rubble.

Okay, so little things… very basic facts. The depressing thing is it’s taken a bloody war to even gain a modest familiarity with these things. I have a fear of flying and have no passport, so there’s practically zero chance of me visiting that part of the world.

I guess there was no real necessity for me to really understand the geography of the area pre-conflict, it would have been a personal interest thing if I had done so. Whatever happens though, I think the rest of the world will have to be there ready to help pick up the pieces and help Ukraine re-build.

I wouldn’t be doing business with any businesses based in Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (aka North Korea), Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, Russia or Syria… and I’d think twice about “no-limits” Russia supporter China.

If the governments in those places change their tune on this conflict, then we re-evaluate, but it’s a fact that supporting business there helps support that country’s government, which only positively-reinforces their current behaviour.

Sadly, with North Korea firing test missile after test missile into the sea, and China eyeing off Taiwan (and its proximity to the Mariana Trench — it’s just about chip fabrication) with jealous eyes — one can only wonder what the next few decades have in store for us.

The real scary thing, I don’t think we in Australia can really count on our allies. The United Kingdom is an utter basket-case post-Brexit and the United States is actually looking very much less united with every passing day as the society there slowly edges towards a race-fuelled civil war.

Methinks we need to start looking at doing things on our own soil, “global economy” looks like it’ll be taking a back seat for a little while!