I have spent about an equal amount of time in both the countries of Russia and Ukraine. This time amounts to several months out of my life. Rather than stay in hotels and eat in restaurants, I spent the majority of my time with my friends and their families in over a dozen cities in each country. I have close friends from both countries who have strong feelings on either side of the current conflict. Since we are constantly barraged with war footage, we are taught to sympathize with our Ukrainian brethren and their heroic president while being conditioned to demonize Russians who support their president. However, the first casualty of war is always truth. How can we forget this so easily? I asked two questions to a friend in Kiev who is well-connected throughout the country due to his business dealings.
I also highly recommend the above video for a general background in Ukraine’s recent history. It is impossible to correctly understand the current situation without knowing something about Ukraine as a culture and a nation. The video is an excellent and balanced teaching that explains well various factors that led to the 2022 Russia-Ukraine crisis. ~ Jay Rogers
The Forerunner:– Most people won’t ever have the experience of living in a city being attacked by the second most powerful army in the world. What are your reflections and observations?
A:– We are okay, so far. There is hell going on near Kiev where the battles are [a few miles to the north and west of the city].
Also the cities of Mariupol and Kharkov are suffering heavily. My colleagues from Kharkov left the city for remote areas. The city is a battle arena at the moment. Mariupol is a half-million population city and the biggest shelter of the Azov Nazi Battalion that holds civilians as hostages.
The attack on Kiev has been postponed, most likely until the dam at the north of Kiev is controlled by Russian forces [floods would cause catastrophic casualties and damage – including flooding of residential areas].
The city of Kiev has not been attacked yet. The few episodes you might see are mostly caused by working of Ukrainian air defense. There have been no missile attacks or air strikes on civilian blocks. Don’t believe the reports. Yes, there are fragments falling down after Ukrainian forces launch counter-aircraft missiles. It is hard to verify what fragments are falling exactly and where they are flying to. My interpretation is that those are unmanned aircraft that are downed by Ukrainian air-defense (what’s left of it). Otherwise people would hear sounds of fighters, helicopters or cruise missiles, but none of my friends from different districts in Kiev heard that.
At least half of Kiev’s (roughly 2 million) population have fled to the western regions or Europe. Roads are empty. Concrete blocks and old tires are everywhere. Apparently, some believed them to be effective on stopping tanks and armored vehicles in case of attack.
Most supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations still work. Prices gained about 10-20% in comparison to the pre-war period. Pharmacies are running on old stocks and not all of them work. Getting medicine may be a problem for those in need. Basic food is available. Local produce are shipped to food stores daily while imported items are vanishing. ATM machines and credit-debit cards are still being accepted in the vast majorities of places, cash is also available from ATMs – though limited.
Electricity, water, natural gas, Internet, cell phone services are present and working.
I think people have gotten used to the situation. Most people, including moms with kids, do not go to the underground shelters when the sirens are on, partially because they are tired, and partially because the days they already spent underground were due to nothing but hysteria, when we were not under a real threat.
The Forerunner:– What are two or three of the most notable war events that are very different in reality from what we see in the western mainstream media news?
A:– I don’t have a lot of time to follow western mainstream media on Ukraine. However, I’d answer your question with what I know.
First, the Western media lies about the root of the problem. According to them, the problem is just evil Putin who wants to restore the Russian Empire or the USSR at any cost, while Ukraine is innocent, free and independent. The high point of Ukrainian independence was before the first peaceful Maidan coup [the Orange Revolution of 2004]. After that, Ukraine has been losing its independence through the influence of the United States and NATO. This process was boosted by the second violent Maidan coup in 2013-2014. Now we see the plot denouement after eight years of Ukrainian civil war in which either side was backed by NATO and Russia accordingly.
Ukraine has been used by the West as a barking dog to harass Russia militarily, economically and politically. Ukraine has acted demon-possessed in the last few years. It was nothing like the country I knew from 1991 to 2004. Ukraine has been looking for trouble and it has finally come.
Second, the West is not as united as it seems in its support of Ukraine.
- Hungary is in a similar situation and has observed for years how Ukraine oppresses its citizens who speak Hungarian [in western Ukrainian cities such as Mukacheve].
- Germany will continue business with Russia and wants to stay away from this conflict.
- Poland backs Ukraine in a great way, but your face will be punched if you mention the names of Stepan Bandera or Roman Shukhevych of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in a respectful way. These two men are the symbols of the Ukrainian nationalist movement and were violent anti-Semitic and anti-Polish Nazi collaborators who were nevertheless awarded the title of “Hero of Ukraine” by Orange Revolution president Viktor Yushchenko in 2007. Every year on January 1st, there is torch march on the main street of Kiev devoted to Bandera’s birthday.
- Israel is strongly against the Ukrainian Nazis whose OUN ancestors were involved in killing of Jews during WWII.
- The Serbs are praising Putin and gather huge meetings in support of the Russian military campaign.
- Italian workers at the Pisa airport refuse to load weapons marked as “humanitarian aid” in aircraft flying to Poland.
This list can be continued. But for now, here are three news articles showing dissent in Western nations’ for support for Ukraine in the current crisis.
Third, your mainstream media misinterprets almost all facts. If there is a bombing, it can only be by Russian forces. Civilian casualties? The Russian army is to blame. The recent launch of a tactical missile to the center of Donetsk by the Ukrainian army was interpreted as a strike on Kiev.
Where is any credible information about the city of Mariupol where civilians been held and used as a human shields by the Azov Battalion right at the moment you’re reading this? We may be talking of civilian casualties as large as 10,000 or more only in this single city. Note that the use of civilians as human shields is a war crime too, but this is never mentioned.