War in Ukraine: a local’s perspective

By Judson Rollins

April 6, 2022, © Leeham News: This week, LNA reports on a story outside our usual beat: an account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine through the eyes of a local who watched tanks and explosions from her window.


Source: Anna Kovalchuk

Three years ago, I spent several months on a consulting engagement in Kyiv, where I made a few local friends. I’ve been fortunate to stay in contact with some of them.

One of those friends is Anna Kovalchuk, a talent acquisition specialist for German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG. Anna lived until last month in Irpin, Ukraine, a few miles from Antonov International Airport, previously home to several of Antonov Aircraft Company’s An-124 Ruslans and its recently destroyed An-225 Mriya. The airport and nearby suburbs including Irpin were the subject of intense fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces since the invasion began on February 24 until just last week.

Anna and I have been in touch regularly since the war began. I visited her in Gdańsk, Poland, not long after she arrived, where she graciously agreed to share the story of her escape from fighting in her neighbourhood to a new life – ironically, a life she began a week earlier than planned due to the invasion.

Gdańsk is a quiet town of nearly 600,000 on the Baltic Sea. Although it was only a couple of weeks into Russia’s war with Ukraine, I saw few indications of the refugee influx that has overwhelmed so many other cities in Poland. However, there were numerous signs of support for Ukraine, including appeals on business doors for supplies ranging from canned food to clothing to small electronics.

Irpin before the invasion

Anna moved from central Kyiv and purchased an apartment in the leafy, family-filled suburb in 2018. “I remember how I felt when I first came to Irpin,” she said. “And I just fell in love. It was a beautiful place with many parks, cozy streets and fresh air.”

Many Irpin residents worked in Kyiv, and they chose to live in Irpin because it was just 18 miles (30 km) away, with commute times often under one hour. “Everything you needed was really close,” said Anna.

Despite her happy life in Irpin, Anna was eager for professional growth, so she applied for and was offered a role in Bayer’s corporate service center in Gdańsk. “I’ve been with [Bayer] for more than five years,” she said. “I’ve always had a drive to explore new things, including a desire to work internationally and gain different perspectives.

“I did not plan to leave Ukraine because something was wrong. I wasn’t dissatisfied with my life or my salary. I had been working for Bayer in Ukraine for a long time, and I wanted to gain international experience that would eventually benefit my country.”

Anna started working with her new team remotely in August 2021 and originally planned to relocate to Gdańsk in mid-March. Before her escape from Ukraine, she had never met her manager or colleagues in person.

Growing tensions in the days leading up to war

Anna was aware of the Russian military presence along Ukraine’s borders. However, like many Ukrainians, she was unconvinced of Russia’s intentions. “I definitely had anxiety about the situation, but I never imagined this kind of assault or invasion. I thought this was for demonstration, for show.

“We’ve had a difficult relationship with Russia for many years,” said Anna, who has family in both countries. “Between the situation with Crimea and the previous escalations in the east, it’s been quite complicated.”

Ukraine’s government advised citizens early this year to prepare what Anna described as “alarm bags” and other precautions in case of war. But neither she nor anyone in her professional or personal circles heeded such advice. “We never thought [the conflict] would go in this direction.”

The first hours of Russia’s invasion

She woke at 7:30 AM on February 24 to start her normal daily routine, just a couple of hours after Russia announced the start of its “special military operation” in Ukraine. “I didn’t realize anything had happened until I saw the panic outside. There was a big traffic jam, and all the shops were closed.”

Anna, who was scheduled to depart on a weekend trip the following day, checked her phone and saw more than 100 messages and calls from friends around Ukraine and from abroad. “I didn’t believe until noon that this was really happening. I was confident that my flight would go ahead. I was just too naïve. This is the twenty-first century; how is this possible?”

“I needed to cancel all my calls, my business meetings,” she said. “I sent a message to my colleagues: ‘My apologies, I’m not available today. I need to take care of my safety.’ There was no time for a handover of my work activities; I just shut down my computer and left [the apartment].”

Anna found a nearby shopping center that was still open for buying essentials and looked for the nearest bomb shelter. It turned out to be the underground garage in her apartment building. “I didn’t check any of this before, because I just never believed this would be my reality.”

The first explosions near Irpin happened early that evening. “I heard the first explosions; it was a very loud bang. And then my building began to shake. I was very scared, I burst into tears. I called my mother and said: ‘Mom, explosions have begun.’ She told me what to do.”

Life in an underground bomb shelter

Anna gathered supplies and vital documents and scrambled down to the bomb shelter, where she spent half the night. “I slept maybe one hour that first night. Around 3 AM, I heard a lot of noise out my window. I looked down and saw Ukrainian tanks and other military equipment on the street. That’s when I realized it wasn’t simply an escalation; it was war.”

She spent most of the next seven days in the shelter. “I would go upstairs to my apartment whenever there was a break in the fighting, for lunch or dinner or even coffee.” Remarkably, electricity and water were still flowing more than a week into the fighting.

“There were so many of us in the shelter, even two-month-old babies. Some were calm, while others were quite emotional. It was so cold. I can still feel the cold even now.”

The building’s residents shared their feelings. “Everybody tried to describe their own pain, their worries, how they were struggling. I heard many different stories.”

Connecting with family, making new friends

Mobile service was still available in Irpin, so Anna texted and had calls with her family, some of whom live in Russia. “My brother and sister in-law called me and said they completely disagree with [the invasion],” she said. “They knew it wasn’t fair and they did their best to support me.”

Anna’s brother asked her to, after she got to safety, help him find a vyshyvanka, an embroidered shirt widely recognized as a Ukrainian national costume. “He was already thinking about leaving Russia, because he knows there is no future for a country that treats its neighbors so roughly. I know it’s not easy for them either.”

During her stay in the bomb shelter, Anna bonded with a neighbour, Daria. “I met this nice girl who sat in my chair [in the shelter] while I went back to my apartment. When I came back, she said, ‘is this your chair?’ and we just started talking. It was a really nice conversation, and we quickly became friends. When you meet a person in such a situation, it makes a big difference and a deeper level of connection beyond just living in the same building.”

Leaving Irpin

Friends in Kyiv who kept in touch with Anna knew she was terrified and offered to arrange transportation out of Irpin. They put her in touch with Ukrainian volunteer militia, who gave her a time and instructions for pick-up. Anna was able to take just a small suitcase and her company laptop.

Before leaving, Anna gave the keys to her apartment to Daria, who chose to stay. Together, they purchased enough food and supplies for Daria to stay in the apartment for a couple of weeks. “We spent only one week together, but it was important to me that [Daria] prepare herself so she would have everything that she needed.”

The militia drove Anna to a destroyed bridge seen in numerous Western media outlets, which was demolished by Ukrainian forces to keep Russian tanks out of the town. She walked across on a makeshift footbridge created for evacuees. Another volunteer waited for her on the other side and drove her in his personal vehicle to central Kyiv.

Destroyed bridge on the outskirts of Irpin, Ukraine. Source: BBC

“Leaving Irpin was very painful, because I was being forced to go,” Anna recalled. “It wasn’t the same. Usually, at this time people go for a run or walk in the park with their pets, stores are open. Irpin looked so strange, like a ghost town. Time had stopped.”

“[That drive] was like being in a scary movie. It was the most dangerous place I’ve ever been, because of the shelling, and also explosions really close to us because of the missiles. You didn’t know what would happen next. I was really scared because so many destroyed cars were along the road. But it was worth trying just to get out of Irpin.”

Anna’s next stop was a friend’s restaurant in central Kyiv, which had converted its underground food storage into a bomb shelter. She spent one night there before starting her journey to the border.

“There were still air raid sirens, and I could hear explosions, but this time they were far away. It was a safe place with nice people and pets. I finally felt like a normal person.”

Journey to the border

The next morning, another friend connected Anna with others who were leaving Kyiv for the western border. Anna recalled her saying, “I will take care of you. I will find you a way to leave the country safely.”

A total of fifteen people traveled in a convoy of three cars. “I didn’t know these people, but they were friends of friends. Everyone had their own story.”

Their journey lasted nearly 48 hours, with just a couple of stops for fuel. The driver in Anna’s car, who was transporting his wife and two children to the border, stayed behind the wheel the entire way. They finally crossed into Slovakia through the Ukrainian town of Uzhhorod.

They crossed the border at about 1:30 in the morning. Slovakian volunteers were waiting with water, tea, food, and clothes. But Anna was mainly interested in sleep. “There was no excitement, just exhaustion. I just wanted to reach the Polish border and sleep in a bed.”

Reaching Gdańsk

Sign posted to door of childcare center in Gdańsk, Poland, asking for refugee supply donations. Source: Judson Rollins

Other friends of Anna’s friends were waiting for them in Slovakia. One of them drove her to Nowy Sącz, about 90 minutes away and just inside Poland. “I was very grateful and amazed that people were so willing to help even those they did not know.”

In Nowy Sącz, Anna found a hotel and was finally able to sleep while a Bayer colleague came to collect her.

“We had a very supportive conversation about the situation in Ukraine,” she said. “My colleague even offered me help in case I need to move my parents out of the country. They did not ask sensitive questions, because they just wanted to let me talk and relax.”

Anna was driven to Kraków, where she boarded a train to Gdańsk.

At the end of her journey, her manager was waiting on the platform with hugs and tears. “When the invasion happened, my manager told me, ‘We are waiting for you in Gdańsk. Please come.’

“When I saw her, I was tired but very grateful for the support. I finally began to have a sense of safety.”

It took nearly two weeks for Anna’s sense of danger to subside.

The future for Russia and Ukraine

Like many Ukrainians, Anna has struggled with her feelings toward Russia.

“Russia invaded the territory of my country, ruthlessly destroying civilian buildings, killing people and children. In Irpin, a mother and child were buried in the courtyard of their house. It’s hard for me to imagine when I return to Irpin; it will never be the same.”

“This is the blood and death that the Russian army brought to my city. This is a shame, and I believe that Putin and his entourage who committed these acts of terror and genocide in Ukraine must be held accountable to the greatest extent of international law.”

Anna still checks the news from Ukraine several times each day and has daily calls with her family and close friends. “Today, they bombed a school very near my apartment [in Irpin]. And they shelled a hospital which is also nearby.”

“Even in this safe place, I can’t fully enjoy my new life, because the news from Ukraine is the same. It hurts, and it’s an open wound that bleeds every day. My day started at 7:30 am on February 24 and has never ended.”

“I want victory in Ukraine. I want a peaceful sky in my country.”


Irpin has been in and out of Russian hands over the past five weeks, with Ukrainian forces now in control – but artillery and missile attacks continue. The town has become a symbol of the destruction inflicted across Ukraine, with dozens of residential and commercial buildings burned out and bombed.

Anna lost contact with Daria after electricity and mobile service failed in Irpin, but she still receives periodic updates via Daria’s mother, who lives in another city. She still has no information on the condition of her apartment building or neighbors.

112 Comments on “War in Ukraine: a local’s perspective

    • @leeham

      Is there space in this blog for such misinformation?

    • No one denies the MS21 is a good plane. The F35b lift system is a straight lift from the Yak36, and the USA has so far not managed anything as good as the 40 year old RD180. If only Russias ruler had invested the countries vast minerals wealth in its brilliant aerospace engineers instead of Lurssen yachts and villas.

      • “The F35b lift system is a straight lift from the Yak36, and the USA has so far not managed anything as good as the 40 year old RD180. “

        Was your source for this Pravda?

        • No, sorry but it’s true. LM paid for data on the Yak36 and the the RD180 has still not been replaced on American rockets after 20 years of launching American spy satellites. Look it up for yourself. Also the Americans paid for data on (superior at the time) Russian ejector seats. Ukrainians are also excellent aerospace engineers.

    • It is the Russians who are behaving like Nazis by waging war and committing mass murder.

        • Ah, “they all do it (supposedly), as in deliberate mass murder” excuse.

          • “One of the most infamous episodes of killings by American soldiers, the shootings of at least 15 Iraqi civilians, including women and children in the western city of Haditha, is misrepresented in the archives. The report stated that the civilians were killed by militants in a bomb attack, the same false version of the episode that was given to the news media.’
            Is that not ‘mass’ enough for you. Some sustained bombing of cities killed hundreds or the Kunduz hospital sustained bombing – well lit up and a known location- killed 42 people.


          • All deaths are tragic but comparing that to the incredible deliberate barbarism in the Ukraine by Russian forces is simply disingenuous and disgusting to the nth degree.

          • Bryce:

            What about whataboutism?

            Want to look at your colonial past?

            So you think indiscriminate killing is just fine clearly if done by your favorite country.

      • @Rick & @ OV-99, The dehumanisation of people through the application of the label “nazi” is something that needs to be included as offensive language along other terms of service of the internet just as the powers have censored just about everything else. We are now hearing of rapes and murder of civilians in Ukraine now justified by this. It’s not just Russian State Sponsored Propaganda we see this has infected the western media use it as an ad hominem label. In Finland it is illegal to glibly call someone a racist and perhaps this standard for slander should be applied widely in the west. I should point out that even if a genuine card carrying member of the national socialist workers party is not guilty of anything unless they have committed a crime. The execution of 250 members of the German minority in Bromberg/Bydgoszcz in 1939 had a lot to do with subsequent events. The cycle of revenge must be stopped, due process must be followed. Switzerland proved how it could be done 100 years ago and Europe is proof that we not only can get along but love it.

        • @William

          You criticism is not warranted. I’ve not labeled anyone “nazi”.

          • You make an extensive comparison below between Putin and Goebbels, i.e. you’re effectively calling the former a Nazi.

          • I am not saying you are doing that. Apologies to you, it was not my intention.

          • Putin is a dictator. So was Hitler.

            What the ideology masquerading behind them does not matter.

            Both invaded countries that had not attacked them nor threatened them.

            The only real difference is Putin and his military are piss ant being chewed up by a group of incredibly brave people to the benefit of the rest of Europe.

          • @Bryce


            I said that Vladimir Putin’s propaganda use of the words “nazi regime” — something that Putin has been repeatedly saying about the Ukrainian government since before 2014 — would make Goebbels proud. (“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,” he asserted, “people will eventually come to believe it).

            Very few people in the World today — apart from a significant number of Russian citizens — believe that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the head of a “nazi” government.

            Also, watching Putin’s speech at the Luzhniki Stadium reminded me about the Goebbels Sportspalast speech in 1943. IMJ, therefore, it’s appropriate to compare (i); Putin’s rhetoric with that of Goebbels’ in his Wollte ihr den totalen krieg speech at the Sportspalast in 1943, (ii); the settings (Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in 2022 and Sportspalast in Berlin in 1943), and (iii); the enthusiastic crowds at both places (i.e. in 1943 and 2022, respectively)

            Now, only someone writing in bad faith would be able to conclude that:

            You make an extensive comparison below between Putin and Goebbels, i.e. you’re effectively calling the former a Nazi.

      • Always good to maintain a balanced narrative in atrocious situations such as these:
        “Video appears to show Ukrainian soldier killing Russian prisoner”

        “The footage seems to show a gun being fired at a wounded soldier, while other dead bodies of troops in Russian uniforms are seen, with at least one with their hands tied behind their back.

        “Footage appears to show an execution performed by a Ukrainian soldier – an action that would amount to a war crime – taking place just over five miles from Bucha, where Russian forces are suspected of committing atrocities against civilians.

        “Four bodies can be seen in the footage, all of which are dressed in clothes matching Russian military uniform.

        “The hands of at least one of the bodies are tied behind its back, suggesting the soldier was captured before being killed.”


    • Nothing like some good old-fashioned brainwashing to keep things running smoothly.
      Most of the world has moved on since 1917/1944 😏

    • @leeham

      Obviously up to you since it is your blog, but I cannot abide by Tankie propaganda being openly shared on a story about the invasion of a Sovereign country by it’s aggressor of a neighbor.

    • @Tirol Supreme

      Your “dear leader” Vladimir Putin’s propaganda use of the words “nazi regime” would make Goebbels proud — Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda for the Nazi government of the Third Reich, understood the power of repeating falsehoods. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,” he asserted, “people will eventually come to believe it. Contrary to accepted knowledge, belief in all statements, be they plausible or implausible, increases with repetition — something that has been done to a great extent in Russia.

      And the Russian state media has been working overtime to brainwash the majority of the Russian population since 2014.

      Now, here’s Putin’s version of Goebbels “sportspalast speech”:

      Вы хотели тотальной войны?

      If Putin had said to the brainwashed people at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on the 18th of March, 2022, to jump out the top floor of the stadium, quite a few in attendance might have done that too.

      Again and again during this diatribe, thunderous applause broke out. But Goebbels was just getting warmed up. Terror must be fought with terror, Goebbels cried. There could be no more bourgeois prudishness. Goebbels asked his now hysterical audience whether they believed in their Führer and the total victory of German arms. An ear-splitting Ja! was the reply. “Do you want total war? Do you want it, if necessary, more total and more radical than we could even imagine today?” he screamed, whereupon pandemonium broke out in the Sportpalast. “Now, Volk,” Goebbels screeched, “arise and storm; break loose!” The Sportpalast had turned into a raving madhouse, and German radio transmitted the mass hysteria throughout the county. Goebbels rightly ranked the speech as the rhetorical masterpiece of his life. Cynical as always, he wrote in his diary, “This hour of idiocy! If I had said to the people, jump out the fourth floor of Columbushaus, they would have done that too.”


    • What matters is that Ukrainians are not only dying but being executed and the rest of Europe wins regardless as Putins war machine is being gutted by those brave people.

      The US at least has maintained a strong defense , perfect now but its still a good one. Germany is finally stepping up and coming to the obvious that you can’t appease Putin or the Soviets

      And China is of the same ilk, trying to seize the South China Sea is no different than Crimea and the Uyghurs enslavement is close on to concentration camps.

      • With regard to “concentration camps”, it looks like someone is (once again) being very selective with his history lessons:

        “In the United States during World War II, about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific Coast, were forcibly relocated and incarcerated in concentration camps in the western interior of the country. Approximately two-thirds of the internees were United States citizens”


        Those who live in glass houses…

  1. The government and people of Poland deserve immense praise for the selfless help given to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Romania similarly deserves praise. When these refugees move on to other EU countries, they are given expedited housing and work permits, schooling for kids, and free healthcare, travel on public transport and use of phone networks. They’re all sick with worry/grief because of family that has had to stay in the war zone, so there’s little peace of mind for them. Difficult to accept that this can happen in the developed world in the 21st century.

    • “When these refugees move on to other EU countries, they are given expedited housing and work permits, schooling for kids…” Yes, with a big asterisk. There’s a lot of “give with one hand, take away with the other” action going on in Europe. For instance, in the Netherlands (where I’m based), the government is waiving many requirements for employers to sponsor Ukrainians – but quietly suspended all asylum applications from Ukrainians for six months. And you can’t get local registration (required for health cover and most public services) here without a long-term visa.

  2. Seeing peoples homes, shops, cars, businesses and apartments, often saved for and built by two generations bombed and bombarded by artillery or destroyed by tanks and bunker busters is one of the most heart breaking things after the loss of life. Waging a war for expansion of control is no longer acceptable in anyway and can not be rewarded in anyway and must be regarded as a criminal act. The destruction of fuel facilities by Russian cruise missiles will surely create a fuel crisis and escape for many refugees more difficult.
    Gdansk, the city Anna Kovalchuk found refuge in was once a Hanseatic City full of ethnic Germans that was ethnically cleansed after WW2. Anything like that is completely unacceptable in the future, including the Russian speaking regions of Ukraine which must be restored to the Ukraine and the people treated with dignity.
    I watched the retired General Wesley Clark speak on the way forward for western military aid. The Ukrainians will need about 500 tanks to operate on the open plains where a Javelin or NLAW ambush can’t work. (these will be Soviet Era tanks made in Czech Republic and Poland if given) and aircraft to protect them. This is 1939.
    The Pacific can’t be ignored, there is a similar pattern there. There is an unprecedent naval build up. The DX-14 is a Chinese hypersonic glider missile launched by an IRBM booster designed to sink US carriers. It has a range of 1000 miles whereas the F-35 has a radius of 650 miles. It’s only a matter of time before the system to target a carrier at that range are in place.
    Australia is part of the 5 eyes system and we are rapidly bringing forward arms purchases including nuclear subs.
    Australia, UK and USA have signed a treaty to develop hypersonic missiles.
    Note that the hypersonic “Kinzahl” missiles the Russian used on an arms bunker is just an 1988 Iskander (SS-26) aeroballistics IRBM (30G end game manoeuvring) launched from an MiG 31 When western hypersonic comes it will be in the form of scramjet propulsion.

    • “…the Russian speaking regions of Ukraine which must be restored to the Ukraine…”

      The “west” should be VERY careful in dealing with the question of the breakaway regions in eastern and southern Ukraine.
      Bear in mind that these regions have self-declared their independence from Ukraine: to say that such actions are invalid and that the territories must be restored to Ukraine is EXACTLY what China wants to hear — it can then apply the same philosophy to Taiwan.
      Such a narrative would also make a farce of the whole Kosovo question.
      As is often the case, the “west” is using double standards here: that may have been tolerated before, but other countries are now enthusiastically pointing out these glaring inconsistencies.

      • Nonsense

        Putin has long been saying that he’s going to defend Russian speakers in Ukraine (e.g. equivalent to the Chancellor of Germany wanting to “defend” German speakers in Switzerland). Putin has used the pretext of protecting Russian speakers from what he termed “genocide” and oppression by the government in Kyiv (lies, lies, and more lies) to justify his invasion of Ukraine and earlier annexations of the country’s territory in 2014. Not only is there no evidence of a genocide against Russian speakers in Ukraine, but many Ukrainian Russian speakers have long since rejected Putin’s claims of discrimination against them. In fact, the barbaric Russian “Special Operation” seems to be pushing more of them into switching from speaking Russian to speaking Ukrainian.

        Now, as you should know, the 2014 “referendums” in eastern Ukraine were a joke. They were a long way off from passing even the minimum conditions for democratic elections.

        Meanwhile, in Taiwan 72.5% of Taiwanese are apparently willing to fight against forced unification by China.




        • Ah yes, the concept of a “legitimate” referendum — another area in which “western” double standards are rife.
          The people of Scotland could say a thing or two about “legitimate” referenda — seeing as the country was torn against its will out of the EU despite a clear majority of Scots voting the other way.
          Those who live in glass houses…

          • Are you serious?

            The fact of the matter is that the constitution of most countries don’t allow for secession (i.e. CIP the secession of the confederate states leading the Civil War in the United States from 1860-1865). In contrast, Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland — with the union between England/Wales and Scotland taking effect on 1 May 1707.

            Scotland 2014: Scotland rejects independence with No winning 55% of vote. AFAIK, no little green men were intimidating voters during what was a legitimate independence referendum.

            The farce of the “referendum” in the Donbas, Ukraine in 2014:

            A poll released by the Kyiv Institute of Sociology, with data gathered from 8–16 April, 41.1% of people in Donetsk were for decentralisation of Ukraine with powers transferred to regions, while letting it remain a unified state, 38.4% for changing Ukraine into federation, 27.5% were in favour of secession from Ukraine to join the Russian Federation, and only 10.6% supported current unitary structure without changes.[18]

            Another poll, taken by the Donetsk Institute for Social Research and Political Analysis, found that 18.6% of those polled in the region opposed changes to the government structure, 47% favoured federalisation, or at least more economic independence from Kyiv, 27% wanted to join Russia in some form, and 5% wanted to become an independent state.[19]

            According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Centre from 5–23 April, 18% of eastern Ukrainians were in favour of secession, while 70% wished to remain part of a united Ukraine.[20]

            The day before the referendum, it was reported in Ukrainian media that a group of pro-Russian separatists in possession of a 100,000 ballots already marked with a ‘yes’ vote for the referendum were captured during the ongoing government “anti-terrorist” operation, and that the ballots were seized by government forces. Local news reported that polling in some occupied schools had already begun a day in advance.[27][47][48]

            A campaign of intimidation, beatings, and hostage taking has forced many pro-Ukrainian activists and known opponents of secession to Russia to flee the region, leaving the referendum to take place without any dissent or opposing voices. At least 24 people were being held by insurgents in Donetsk region at the time of the referendum, according to Human Rights Watch.[49] CNN reported seeing some voters vote more than once at ballot boxes.[50] When interviewing voters at a polling station in Donetsk, VICE News crew were detained for three hours by masked men with assault rifles who demanded their memory cards.[51]


          • @ OV
            Go back and read again what I wrote: I referred to the Scottish *Brexit* referendum, not the Scottish *Independence* referendum. Scotland was dragged out of the EU despite the fact that a majority of the Scottish electorate voted to the contrary. Bear in mind that Scotland has its own parliament — which, in this case, was completely side-stepped by Westminster.

          • Kosovo has voted for independence, which has been legally recognised by the International Court.

            The Nato occupation forces , mostly US soldiers, dont allow that to proceed. Does Serbia want its territory back, 20 years after the conflict ?

            In that area , Yugoslavia didnt recognise the Croatian independence referendum either.
            Now they are EU and Nato member . So the idea that the referendum has to be recognised by the National government is hogwash.

            the long and historical story on referendums ….yes they were used in Confederate states in 1860s, and after the colonies 100 years earlier had forcibly succeeded from Britain it was entirely right they could chose to succeed from the US.

          • @ OV
            “The fact of the matter is that the constitution of most countries don’t allow for secession”

            China will be delighted with that quote: it plays right into their hand in their assertion that Taiwan is part of China.

          • @ DoU
            Not sure what point you’re trying to make with regard to Kosovo, but:
            – Half of the UN’s member states don’t recignize it as a sovereign state;
            – The “international court” to which you refer ruled that the Kosovo referendum violated Article 8 of the Serbian constitution;
            – Serbia is willing to forego EU membership if it doesn’t get a whole list of concessions regarding Kosovo.

            Double standards.

          • To OV-099’s point:

            In the Independence referendum of 2014, Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.

            The UK was in the EU, a referendum was called in 2016 and the UK voted to leave the EU (rightly or wrongly). Scotland was at the time part of the UK.

            Greater London (electorate at the time 5,424,768) voted to remain in the EU as did Northern Ireland (electorate at the time 1,260,955), and as you say Scotland (electorate at the time 3,987,112) but still, the majority of the UK voted to leave, that’s how democracy works.

            *You could equally say that Greater London (with a larger electorate) was dragged out of the EU against it’s will.*

            If the Independence case had been better made in 2014, there may have been a different outcome. What currency would an independent Scotland use in the time before they join the EU and eurozone for instance, never and still not properly addressed.

            Scotland trades far more with England, Wales and Northern Ireland than with the EU, where is the benefit in changing?

            The EU has been very clear, an independent Scotland would need to join as a new member, they can’t just become part of the EU as they were in it before, the UK was a member of the EU, Scotland was not.

            Royal Bank of Scotland would need to move their HQ to England if Scotland votes for independence.
            “Our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy.”

            The Scots are a canny people, you have to be realistic and answer the very real practical questions if you have any hope of winning an independence referendum. The “vote for independence and we’ll sort it out afterwards” line is just not going to work.

          • @Bryce

            Of course, I understood what you meant. FYI there was no Scottish Brexit referendum but a UK Brexit referendum. Likewise. there was a Scottish independence referendum and not a UK-wide referendum on Scottish independence.

            Now, are you seriously comparing the Brexit referendum to a secession referendum?

            Scotland was forced out of the EU against its will because there is no codified federal constitution for the United Kingdom. Hence, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have no constitutionally protected powers.

            Also, the fact of the matter is that Scotland’s constitutional status is unique compared to that of most other regions of the world who are seeking independence.

            Furthermore, the fact that Brexit might very well lead to the break-up of Great Britain has more to do with the law of unintended consequences — something not foreseen by even the most ardent Brexiters. IndyRef 2 is bound to happen in the not too distant future.

            However, all this has nothing to do with Russia’s criminal actions against Ukraine, which BTW are showing signs of genocide — however much you try to change the topic.

          • EU referendums are a running joke.
            Some time various EU treatys were put up for a national vote and lost . Ignored or a revote done.

            Norway famously voted to stay out of EU (2x ) they got a sort of ‘EU laws- Free trade apply but you are not a member compromise’ as the political-business elites wouldnt accept the No votes.
            Regarding Kosovo , being recognised ‘as a country’ by various states has no bearing . Taiwan is the obvious case.
            Clearly Kososo has ‘no sovereignty’ as the nato occupation
            forces doesnt allow it. Neither is returning to Serbia on the agenda.

          • Summarizing: the “west” inconsistently decides when a referendum is valid or invalid — according to taste and the “narrative du jour” — including ignoring the outcome of referenda in its own territories.
            This is then supposed to pass as a “rules-based system”, featuring “uniform application of the law”.

            @ Lars
            Pointing out a glaring inconsistency in the “west’s” policies does not make a person a Beijing apologist.

            @ JakDak
            The Brexit referendum was a mess from the outset precisely because no mechanism was in place to deal with tbe situation that ultimately arose, i.e. where some constituents voted to stay and others voted to leave. Mr. Cameron opened Pandora’s Box without thinking it through.

            @ OV
            There most certainly was a Scottish Brexit referendum — together with a Welsh one, an English one and a Northern Irish one. Attempting to hide behind semantics will not change the fact that the clearly expressed will of the Scottish people waa ignored.

            I’ll repeat my original point: the “west” would do well to tread carefully in the question of East and South Ukraine, so that it doesn’t inadvertently screw Taiwan (and Kosovo) in the process.

          • Sorry Bryce .
            Wasnt a Scottish Brexit referendum. It was nationwide
            The votes were tallied by parliamentary electorate.
            The media added up the votes for the various entities of the UK. But was the nationwide vote that counted
            As many say London election districts voted for Brexit too.

            The Scottish independence referendum amoung others like the devolution referendums are the only referendums run in Scotland.

          • @ DoU
            The fact that the referendum wasn’t organized by Scotland doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a referendum in Scotland: Scottish people participated in a referendum, so there was a referendum in Scotland.

            The weather in Scotland also isn’t organized by Scotland, but one can still refer to the Scottish weather.

            BBC: “Scotland has voted in favour of the UK staying in the EU by 62% to 38% – with all 32 council areas backing Remain.”


            Electoral Commission: “EU referendum results by region: Scotland”


            Trying to use creative syntax does not change the fact that, after holding a plebiscite, the will of the Scottish people was ignored.

          • @To Everyone. Swiss style confederations work. Had Czechoslovakia been constituted that way and Poland reconstituted that way we might have avoided WW2. Centralising power too much always leads to very bad things. The EU is a magnificent achievement and it works. I had hoped Russia would have become part of it.

      • Taiwan has never been a part of the People’s Republic of China so the comparison is not a valid one. Really who cares what BS China or their thinly veiled apologists use?

        • The constitution of Taiwan ( ROC) says its ‘part of China’, the sovereign nation of the Chinese people
          There great conundrum of the 1850s in Europe was whether Schleswig Holstein was part of Prussia or Denmark. Alsace and Lorraine had the same issue, they were historically part of the “German nation’ but ruled by France. After WW2 the French tried their damnest to get Saar territory which they controlled as the peace settlement to stay with France. A referendum solved the matter and they went with West Germany.
          Historically the end of empires has led to border disputes galore. The Ottoman Empire ended in Europe long before it did in Asia. The German and Austro-Hungarian empires demise led to many wars in Eastern Europe, the Soviet empire end has done the same over last 30 years – including now in Ukraine

        • That’s like saying that California wasn’t subject to Mr. Trump’s rule simply because the state as a whole voted for Mrs. Clinton.
          Taiwan was part of China, and a majority in China adopted a changed political system — applicable to the whole country.
          Much as I sympathize with the plight of the Taiwanese people, the issue is not cut and dried.
          China is watching closely how similar situations are treated elsewhere.

          • Bryce, your argument is ridiculous.
            Scotlands parliament was set up by the UK government legislation as was the referendum. Independence was fairly narrowly rejected, but would have gone ahead with no military intervention had the independents won the vote.In fact the arrangements for divying up the armed forces had already been agreed. The same is true (and has been for at least 40 years) in Northern Ireland. The ruling elites were opposed to brixit, but were narrowly defeated by democratic vote. Brit haters the world over love to crow about Scotland and Northern Ireland(Russian propagandists in particular), but here in the UK we are very relaxed about it and most Brits would be delighted to be able to see the back of Northern Ireland.
            Maybe Spain would be a better example?

          • The current government that rules China has never occupied Taiwan. That is the critical difference. Nobody takes China’s claim as legal (other than a few subservient police states).
            China does not care if it’s claims are legitimate and adding one more illegitimate claim matters not to the world whether they suckle off China’s teat or not.

          • @ Grubbie
            Not sure why you’re putting a Scotland retort in the middle of a sub-discussion about Taiwan — but, OK.
            Rather than listening to “Russian propagandists”, perhaps one should instead listen to the people of Scotland, and how they feel on the matter? Not that such things ever mattered to London, of course 😉


            As regards Spain: I agree with you, and I mentioned Catalonia above.

          • I love the part about the Chinese people adopted.

            When it is done at gunpoint per Ukraine or China its is nothign to do with adopted and all to do with Dictators and force.

            Hong Kong is now ADOPTED. They are trying to Adopt the South East Asian Sea. They have adopted the Uyghurs all right. Right into concentration camps.

            Want to ask how Tibet feels? Always fun to get adopted.

            The Island of Taiwan is actually a democracy and has decided it does not want to be part of China (Hong Kong tells you exactly what that fate is)

          • ‘Nobody takes China’s claim as legal (other than a few subservient police states).’ @lars
            Not so, ALL nations that recognise the Beijing government also include that there is ‘One China’ only. Its their precondition for diplomatic relations
            That particular term came out of the 1972 US recognition of Beijing.
            Its the way it works for everyone , you either recognise either the PRC ( Beijing) or the ROC ( Taipei) as the sole ruler of all of China. Even though for practical purposes its ignored by everyone in both countries except at the highest diplomatic levels
            Its actually a few tiny countries that recognise the ROC. but for them to declare ‘independence’ as a nation limited to Taiwan island is a complete no no as well.
            As I keep saying border disputes can sometimes seem unsolvable after the ‘end of empires’

      • -To a certain extent your ‘realpolitik” is right, it’s best not to get involved in an ethnic quagmire but this is not an ethnic quagmire, its entirely created by Putin’s funding of so called militia rebels and his state propaganda labelling Ukrainians as “Nazis.
        -The western mindset is based around abstract principals and ideals rather than programmatic accommodations. At this point the thinking of the liberal elite is that Putin and those aligned with him must not be allowed to benefit from this aggression i.e. going through negotiations whereby he gains huge amounts of land and can claim a victory. This is going to go on for a while. Stay safe.

        Had Putin just annexed Crimea and sat upon it he might have gotten away with it.

        • Regardless of the current deranged “campaign” that Putin is conducting in Ukraine, one can legitimately ask to what extent Crimea had a right to self-determination. There appears to be no civil unrest or insurgency there, so one can posit that Crimea as a whole is happy with the move.


          I would equally grant the people of Catalonia, for example, the right to self-determination.

          • There are pretty much curfews throughout the Ukraine, Russia and Crimea. You aren’t going to see mass street protests. Russian police and trigger happy soldiers fire real bullets, not rubber.

          • @ William
            That’s at the moment. I’m referring to the past few years prior to the recent Russian invasion.

          • Mass depopulation of citizens who wanted to stay in the Ukraine surely has had a dramatic effect with the “peaceful” situation.

            “Solitudinem fecerunt, pacem appelunt”

          • @ Lars
            Have you got any link regarding that alleged “mass depopulation of citizens who wanted to stay in the Ukraine” vis-à-vis Crimea prior to February of this year?

  3. The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.

    ~ Ernest Hemingway

    • In 2010 Shell discovered enough natural gas, 13 trillion cubic meters, near the Donbass region. It’s enough Natural Gas to let Ukraine takeover the supply of Natural Gas to much of Europe. Explains the invasion (Mr Putin wants his monopoly), Explains Hunter etc. Yes Putin is an economic opportunist as per Hemmingway.
      Obviously the Russian economy is badly run and corrupt and can’t provide for most of its people outside of a few cities. Russian forces claim their withdrawal from Kiev as feinting plan to distract from the real operation in the East near the Donbass and to control the entire coastline. In fact the Russian losses are massive and they were defeated. It is now possible for NATO to supply weapons. However Russia is close to controlling 80% of he coastline and seems to be regrouping to control the natural gas around Ukraine near the Donbass.

      • Thankfully, the Czech Republic is now sending a consignment of Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine.
        Next up, hopefully: those Soviet-era fighter jets from Poland, etc.
        Seeing as the East and South have a majority of ethnic Russians, I suspect that Ukraine can bid those regions farewell.
        I suspect that you may be right about the Donbass gas being the real reason behind the invasion.

  4. Thank you, Judson, for bringing this personal first-hand report to our attention. It makes it really vivid how life can change from comfortable and normal in a matter of days. Living here in the center of Buenos Aires I can just envision that sort of destruction to my new apartment and having to live in the basement and trying to figure out how to escape from this country. It is terrifying!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Robert. I’m honored to have had the opportunity. The world needs to hear about all the chaos and grief caused by Russia’s actions.

      Another friend who fled Kyiv is Russian by birth but moved to Ukraine as a teenager in 1993. She said with tears in her eyes, “Of course I love Ukraine, but I cannot escape the fact that I am Russian. How can I tell this to anyone? How can I ever again read Dostoyevsky or listen to Tchaikovsky?” I’m a wordsmith and speak a few languages, but no words in any of them are remotely adequate to assuage her grief.

      • Don’t worry, I would guess that their are more people having a bash at reading War and Peace than at any other point in history.

        • Judson:

          You tell her that she is not defined by her heritage but the values she has and what she does going forward.

          I don’t define myself by what Nazi Germany did in WWII and my heritage is almost pure German (with one Polish bride in the mix)

          I am not defined by Bush II nor Trump. I could not stop either one but I voted and neither was my president despite the reality of our corrupted constitution that they were elected.

          Yes she has an association with an truly horrific situation, but she is not part of it.

          I don’t claim to know what the answer is. Good music or history that is not associated with dictators or those who endorsed actions is not an issue.

          We in the US struggle with people like Cosby and Jackson who were true comedian/music and how do you separate what they created that was good from what they did?

          She is not alone though I don’t being to say that the impact of the Cosby/Jackson type are anywhere near the magnitude of the Thug Putin.

  5. Sanctions against Russia will only increase and should IMO not be lifted until the following demands are met:

    A) Withdrawal of all Russian military personnel from Ukraine — including the Donbas and Crimea.

    B) Withdrawal of all Russian Military personnel from Transnistria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia — and with Russian military forces being replaced by United Nations peacekeeping forces.

    C) Russia must hand over all Russian war criminals who they are unable-to/unwilling-to try in a Russian court of law — from the top down, starting with Vladimir Putin — to the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

    D) The November 29, 1939 border between Russia and Finland must be restored with Russia returning to Finland the stolen territories of Karelia, Salla-Kuusamo and Petsamo.

    E) A full destalinisation and defascistification process in Russia must be undertaken. Like Germany post 1945, Russia must come to terms with its past: I.e. a Russian Vergangenheitsbewältigung* is needed; starting with a new South African type of truth and reconciliation commission talking about; (i) what actually transpired in Ukraine in the 1930s and Stalin’s role in the forced collectivisation in Ukraine and the Holomodor**; (ii) the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact; (iii) the Katyn massacre; (iv) the conduct of the Red Army during WW2*** — demonstrating to Russians living today, that their current psychopathic leaders have much in common with Stalin, and that the barbaric behaviour of the Russian Army today is rooted both in; (v) past behaviour of the Red Army during WW2; and (vi), well versed tactics of Putin’s Russian Army in besieging and destroying cities (i.e. Grosny and Aleppo), and the deliberate targeting of civilians.

    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vergangenheitsbew%C3%A4ltigung

    ** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor
    *** https://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/may/01/news.features11

    If all of these demands are met, the international community should IMJ — in order to avoid a Versailles type Mk-II treaty crushing the Russian economy over the long-term — not force Russia to fully compensate to Ukraine for war reparations.

    Confiscated assets from Russian oligarchs will help to pay, though, for some of the damaged or destroyed residential buildings, schools, market stalls, churches, stores, hospitals, university departments, and other civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, perpetrated by Russia.

  6. This war is not about NATO expansion, it never was.

    Significant dates are very important to the Russian leader, he’ll be 70 this year, that means he will be beyond the average life expectancy of men in Russia.

    The USSR was founded at the end of 1922, that’s nearly 100 years ago.

    The Russian leader was greatly affected by the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    His dream of a new USSR encompassing Russia, Belarus & Ukraine as a first step is now in ruins.

    Is there any other military force in the world that has mobile crematoria? Clearly for a supposed military operation with food, fuel & rations for only 3 days there would be absolutely no need for such equipment. Russia would repatriate any of it’s soldiers who died in the “operation” wouldn’t they?

    Talk of 45,000 body bags in just one area where your “operation” force in total is just over 100,000 probably gives you an indication of intent.

    There are people in Russia that believe that once there is a settlement of some kind in Ukraine, all the “Western” countries that left Russia will return in short order; when / if the Russian people learn the truth, will they still think that?

    The pre-text is already out there, Sumy may be even worse than Bucha. I don’t want to contemplate any of it, least of all Mariupol.

    What do we learn from history? We seem to learn nothing at all from history.

    • Jack D:

      The reality is that the little people can’t affect the rulers. Even the Democracies struggle mightily (see the US and Iraq)

      The vast majority of us just want to live our lives. People like Putin dictate otherwise. In Iraq until we intervened, it was Hussein and that was lovely as well that many ignore (not it does not justify what the US did)

      But there is only one way I could stop Bush II or Trump and I likely would not succeed.

      I vote for the people who I believe would not take those kind of actions – but I also understand all of them are controlled to a large degree by corporations and I cannot do anything about that either. .

      • “In Iraq until we intervened”

        Yes — an “intervention” without a UN mandate.
        And with 200,000 dead civilians as a result.
        Also de-stabilized the whole region, which precipitated the rise of ISIL.

  7. I first became involved in the airline industry in the early 1990’s when my company, having sold a large consignment of computers to Russia was told by the customer they no longer had the hard currency to pay for them. The containers were already in Leningrad (it was still Leningrad) but in barter they offered a shipload of coal or two brand new aeroplanes called Ilyushin 76TD’s which they valued at $7.5m each.

    Knowing nothing about aeroplanes I went to the central library and found from Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft that they were large freighter aircraft but to me, looked worth more than $7.5m. I immediately hit the phones trying to sell them (for $12.5m each) and in doing so was offered in trade option’s on new Boeing s, or new RB211 engines and such like, often by south American military people of high rank living in Boca Raton or Palm Springs. Eventually we took the coal but I persisted with the aeroplanes and eventually they were sold to the United Nations at $21.7m each (sadly not by me) to provide for the chronic shortage of lift to the middle east resulting from the first of America’s forever wars.

    In the course of events I was offered a number of repossessed former Pan American Airbus aircraft by a Dutch bank who also offered some money to go with them to start a new airline if it helped but that’s another story.

    Seeing great hope for Russia I learnt the language at night school and went to live there for a time. It was a wild & lawless place in the ‘90’s; the first – and hopefully last time I got the smell of cordite was standing on the banks of the Moscow River watching Yeltsin’s tanks pound the White House. Not until Putin came to power was order restored to that country but I fell in love with place, its people and culture.

    A year or two previously Ukraine had more nuclear weapons than China does now, all of the pointed at us and Ukrainian soldiers were willing to do to my country (the UK) what Russian soldiers are now doing to theirs.

    Interestingly, one of Yetsin’s political opponents at that time was the founder of the National Bolshevik Party, an extreme quasi fascist/nationalist/bolshevik party who was a former Soviet dissident and Ukrainian, Eduard Limonov. Returned from exile in the US Limonov became radicalised upon learning his beloved father was a state security official responsible for transporting anti-communists for execution in Ukraine’s death camps. His нацболы has since spread to other former soviet states and the Balkans. More recently, Limonov supported the annexation of Crimea, the DNR and LNR, and encouraged Russians to take part in the War in Donbass on their side. I’ve heard rumours implicating him in the missile attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

    I have Russian friends and contacts in the industry there and would have happily lived there, feeling more at home than in the West. In retrospect and knowing what I know now it was very probably Putin’s office I was dealing with in Leningrad in 1991. Sadly, things have come full circle and Russia is reverting to full totalitarianism.

    I hope from this you may gather that despite the MSM’s propaganda and the sad experience of Міс/Пані Kovalchuk, “это не черно-белое”. Everything is linked; the West’s response to all this is consistent with their response to Covid and brings to mind one of the earliest phrases my russian teacher made us learn: ”Назло бабушке отморожу себе уши!”

    • “I first became involved in the airline industry in the early 1990’s when my company, having sold a large consignment of computers to Russia was told by the customer they no longer had the hard currency to pay for them. The containers were already in Leningrad (it was still Leningrad)’

      Leningrad name was LAST changed back to St Petersburg in 1991,

      By the mid 90’s-it was being run like the old movies about chicago- new york gangsters -mafia Major sales of mercedes benz were to St petersburg.

      Outside of town were still small plots (about 20 ft by 30 ft) being farmed by families. Drinkable water for toursists was on sale for about 2$ a gallon. Waiters hawked ‘ rolex’ and similar watches. Most but not all tour guides were very circumspect about what they said. Older residents sort of wanted the return to ‘ old times’ where they had very little but at least it was consistent the ‘ we pretend to work, they pretend to pay us ‘
      Proper payola to certain people got your tour to the front of the line into the Hermatige , etc ditto for front seats at the ballet.

      • I was working in Siberia in 2016. I took a day to see Moscow and visited St Petersburg by catching the very clean and modern Saspan (High Speed Train) to St Petersburg.
        The seediness you speak of was gone. The city was clean and neat, modern western hotels, google maps and translate worked as did 3G.
        The streets at night were lively, talented buskers (I remember one guy with a 12 string). It was full of strip clubs with the most gorgeous girls Id ever seen anywhere on earth. They’d be on the streets handling out pamphlets to go in. You’d be accosted about 10 times between the 20 minute walk between the hermitage and my hotel next to the central railways station. They were regulated. I won’t report what went on inside because I didn’t go but told they were clean and orderly.
        Both Moscow and St Peterburg looked good. Uber worked so you could get around.
        The country looked exciting and fantastic, neater than a lot of European cities. It looked like Russia could integrate into Europe so easily.
        You’d be there thinking these people are just like us.
        It looked so good, Kelly Rowlands wanted to buy a Moscow apparent.

        I can see why Puitin got away with so much. He did seem to restore order and get rid of the corruption by imposing his own assassin based order and corruption. Or maybe he just made it worse.

        Anyone that went there would want to see Russia integrate into the west.

        It’s the biggest failure of the last 50 years.

        • Russia has changed enormously yes, but there are still tens of millions of Russian houses that don’t have running water, central heating or even an indoor toilet.

          The saddest thing about Putin is that he could have continued to build & modernise Russia, but he just couldn’t shake off his obsession with the end of the Cold War.

          He’s had his “Assad” moment & instead of being remembered for the positive things that he did (Putin, not Assad) and the advances that Russia made, he will be remembered in the same way Stalin & Hitler are remembered.

          He wanted his legacy to be a new USSR (Russia, Belarus & Ukraine) on the 100th anniversary of the first USSR.

          If he succeeded with Ukraine, he would have calculated that NATO/EU/West was divided & NATO could fall apart & certainly wouldn’t risk triggering Article 5 if he “took back” Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia.

          He thought that Russia was a peer superpower, apart from the nuclear arsenal, it seems that Russia is not even a near peer superpower.

          • Don’t forget that lack of access to things such as running water also occurs in other “developed” countries:

            “Across the United States, more than 460,000 households, or nearly 1.5 million people, lack a plumbed connection to drinking water or sewers. And the figures are far worse among disadvantaged groups and in certain parts of the country. Roughly 40 percent of Navajo families lack running water at home. Nearly three-quarters of households in an area of northern Arizona that includes five Native reservations lack connected plumbing.”


    • The dramatic rebound – the currency nearly halved in value in seven trading sessions following the Feb. 24 invasion – is partly down to a genuine improvement in Russian finances as energy export revenues grow and imports shrivel.

      But using it as evidence that Russia’s sanctions-savaged economy is out of the woods would be at best misleading.

      The currency is also being artificially inflated by capital controls and, with the country’s gross domestic product predicted to shrink 10%-15% this year, Russians are quickly getting poorer as soaring inflation devours their earnings.

      In response to the sweeping sanctions, Russia ramped up interest rates to 20%, restricted local firms’ access to foreign currency cash, barred citizens from withdrawing more than $10,000 in foreign currency for six months, and stopped banks from selling hard currency in cash.

      Foreign investors have been banned from exiting securities, limiting the scramble to dump roubles, and President Vladimir Putin on Thursday demanded that foreign buyers pay in roubles for Russian gas from April 1.


      • I didn’t assert that “Russia’s sanctions-savaged economy is out of the woods”
        I asserted that sanctions are futile.
        Sanctions also ravaged the economy in Iran and North Korea — but those sanctions were ultimately futile in that they didn’t precipitate any change in regime or policy. The sanctions imposed against Russia after the Crimean move also served no ultimate purpose — apart from strengthening Russia’s domestic industry.
        Russia has been through various economic crises since the fall of the USSR, including a default on foreign debt. It somehow manages to save itself every time. That might have something to do with the following:
        – It has vast natural resources;
        – It’s a net lender rather than a net borrower;
        – It has a current account surplus rather than a deficit;
        – It has an array of economically powerful friends.

        Sanctions don’t work.

        • Tsarist Russia was untouchable since it had the Rubble backed 1:1 with gold. Russia covers 11 time zones. There is going to be every conceivable resource there.

          • There have never been sanctions like have been imposed.

            And its not just the economy, its the ability build modern weapons.

            And long term they will have an enormous affect and the apologist get their face rubbed in reality every inch of recovered Ukrainian territory we see.

            No difference than when Hitler came through.

          • @Transworld, Sanctions will not defeat Putin/Russia. He needs to be defeated on the Battlefield. The West is not used to winning but here is an ally that wants to win and is with us.
            Hence the Ukrainians must be given vast arms. Tanks, Fighter Aircraft and anti shipping missiles.
            No fly zones and even approval for the Ukraine to attack Russian supply lines within Russia itself. We have to seriously think about going there.

        • Bryce, if sanctions don’t work, what do you suggest the world does?

          How else do you signal the Russian people?

          What happens when the Russian people start to find out (even with the almost complete control of Media by the state) what’s really happening in Ukraine?

          Russia may already have lost more troops in Ukraine (please everyone, note it’s not “The Ukraine” it’s just Ukraine) in this short 3 day “special military operation” than in the 9 years, 1 month, 3 weeks of their war in Afghanistan 1979-1989.

          Families will notice when their loved ones are not contactable & don’t come home. Ukraine is sharing identified Russian troops that have been killed online. How are you supposed to feel when the “enemy” is the one to let you know of your loss, rather than your own government who sent your son/father to a pointless & unnecessary death.

          The Kremlin (Peskov) has had to admit “significant losses of troops”.

          Russia has been expelled from the UN Human Rights council.

          Some Russians have started to question the state narrative, “If the SMO was to de-nazify Ukraine, why didn’t Russia take the evidence to the UN & why does Russia not have other countries with it in the SMO to resolve the Ukraine issue?” – So how will people asking these sorts of questions take the expulsion of Russia from the UNHRC?

          Top downloads on the app stores in Russia right now, VPNs, Telegram, Signal etc. The truth will get out, it may take time, but it will get out.

          • I suggest the world does what it has done in similar such conflicts in the past, and what it is doing in the present conflict: supply arms — lots of them.

            Sanctions are completely ineffective — except, perhaps, to give the sanctioning parties a “feel-good” impression that they’re doing something to address the situation. In the long term, sanctions just make the sanctioned party more self-sufficient and immune.

            Sanctions certainly aren’t necessary as a channel to “inform the Russian people”: information gets in by all sorts of channels, regardless of media suppression. Russians abroad are in phone contact with family and friends every day, aren’t they? It’s still possible to take a plane or train into or out of Russia, isn’t it?

            Even with an informed Russian populace, what are you expecting? An uprising?

          • Bryce, I am very aware of the use of sanctions and of the unexpected consequences of sanctions and of course the use of sanctions by the state as “proof” that the West is against/attacking Russia.

            Should the average Russian be completely unaffected? Should they continue to be able to dine at McDonalds, wear Nike shoes? Are there to be no consequences at all?

            If there are no sanctions there would be comments such as “It can’t be as bad as the propaganda says, if it was, why do we still have McDonalds?”

            Sanctions are an unfortunate necessity.

            Would you not agree that targeted sanctions should be applied to anything that could be used to produce weaponry?

            Am I “expecting an uprising” – No, but even though the population may not be in a position to change the government, those that are in a position to change the course of government will be far more inclined to do so if the people are very clear that they want a change of direction.

    • -As I predicted. You can’t beat supply or price inelasticity.
      -No one should be buying Russian Coal. There is plenty of high quality black coals in Australia and the USA (900 years of energy) and many other counties. Mining and exports of coal in the US and Australia has been severely hit by environmentalists particular climate activists. A big 180 billion dollar Adjani Coal project was shut down by Australian Environmentalists and so now the coal from India is coming from Russia. The result is that coal production has simply shifted to Russia etc.
      -Of course it is the need to use fossil fuels that should b e targeted not the mining itself.
      -Oil and Gas is in a different situation but we see blocking of natural gas and oil developments throughout the world. Again the production shifts to Russia where one can imagine that no environmental group will be effective. Siberia itself has 22% of the worlds natural gas.
      -Oil and gas production can be increased if suppliers can be guaranteed a long term floor price. Saudi production costs (from memory) are in the range of $10-15/barrel. Russian costs are in the range of $25/barrel.
      -It’s likely that vast amounts of oil and gas could be produced in western countries if suppliers could be guaranteed a floor price. Say this price was $35/barrel. A subsidy could be obtained by applying a tariff to the goods and services of any country not sanctioning Russian gas and oil. This is only fair as these countries will have a competitive advantage.

      -Coal can be converted to synthetic natural gas (SNG) very easily at 60% efficiency through steam oxygen gasification. Hydrogen can be made at 80% efficiency this way. Hydrogasification can convert coal to SNG at 80% efficiency. The CO2 can be sequestered under ground or as it is already clean and desulpherised it can be used to make electro fuels.

    • Check foreign exchange volumes for ruble – it fell by 99% since start of the war. It is pretty easy to manipulate currency if nobody is trading it.

      • Unlike stock exchanges, currency markets are distributed around the globe, and they never close.
        The chart in the link tells a perfectly clear story:


        “The Russian ruble strengthened past 80 per dollar on Thursday to levels last seen before the invasion of Ukraine, as the currency shrugged off a new round of sweeping western sanctions. The US announced Wednesday fresh sanctions targeting Russian banks and elites, while banning Americans from investing in Russia. The ruble also held firm despite fears that Russia was edging closer to a potential default on its international debt as it paid dollar bondholders in rubles and said it would continue to do so as long as its foreign exchange reserves were blocked by sanctions. The Russian currency recovered steep losses driven by international sanctions, as authorities raised the policy rate to 20%, imposed strict capital controls, avoided sovereign defaults and intervened in the financial markets.”

        • As the man who jumped off the 50 story building said when asked at the 25th floor as he flew by, so far so good.

    • The average pumping figure in the previous comment should, of course, read 11.01 *million* bpd.

      And further to this topic:
      “Russia Expects $9.6-Billion Windfall From High Oil Prices In April”

      “Even at record discounts of $30 a barrel, Russia is probably selling its flagship Urals grade to willing customers unfazed by the sanctions at around $70 per barrel, considering that oil prices have more or less stayed above $100 a barrel since Putin invaded Ukraine at the end of February.”


    • And more again on this subject:
      “Sold Out: Asian Buyers Continue To Snap Up Russia’s Far-East Crude”

      “Asian buyers continue to buy one of Russia’s key crude grades shipped from the Far East ports as the Sokol cargoes for May loadings for Asia are already sold out, traders told Bloomberg on Thursday.

      “Crude from the Sakhalin I project, from which operator ExxonMobil said it would withdraw after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was sold either on a term or spot basis to South Korea, China, and India, Bloomberg’s sources said.

      “The voyage to deliver a cargo of Sokol to Asia is just a week long because the grade is being loaded from Russia’s Far East ports. Buyers in Japan, South Korea, India, and Chinese independent refiners have reportedly bought Sokol for May loading.

      “Exxon, for its part, will use its share of Sokol in its own refineries, according to Bloomberg’s sources.”


        • I wouldn’t know — I’m in The Netherlands.
          How’s the weather there in Utopia?

          • Ah, the Netherlands. That makes perfectly sense. The troll factory in St. Petersburg must have felt the need to set up a foreign subsidiary in the Netherlands after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over the city of Hrabove in the Donbas, by Russian-supported separatists in 2014.

          • @ OV-099
            You’re resorting to your usual, sullen name calling — in line with your characteristic behavior (recently, you called other commenters “Putinverstehers” and “nauseating”).
            You might want to read the Reader Comment Rules in that regard.
            You might additionally wish to note that the LNA author of the present article — Judson Rollins — is also in The Netherlands; so, it seems from your (convoluted) comment that you’re also implying that he works at a “troll factory”. Not sure how such tarring is intended to be useful in the current (or any) discussion.
            Also not clear how you think it’s in any way conducive to throw salt on the wounds of the victims of MH17 and their families; you might want to visit the MH17 monuments here in NL for a moment of contemplation.

            We had another commenter here like you before: he regularly threw a tantrum when the narrative wasn’t exactly to his liking, and even became abusive toward the site owner. He got booted.

          • @Bryce

            Now, let’s have a look at what you’re actually doing:

            A) Posting a massive amount of comments at the Leeham News blog.

            B) Where the topic in question has been Ukraine, you’ve hijacked the comment section and flooded it with a vast number of off-topic post — with not even one post of yours being critical of Vladimir Putin — and ranting about how bad the West is and its “double morals”; how stupid the sanctions are; and so on and so forth.

            Hence, it’s not unreasonable to point out that your online behaviour do have many similarities with that of a troll factory.

            Also, saying that Gerhard Schröder, for example, is a putinversteher is just stating the obvious — he “understands” Putin. It’s a factual statement.

            There’s no need for you, therefore, to get all that worked up about being understood as being a putinversteher. It appears to me that you actually “understand” Putin, since you’ve had nothing bad to say about him — and are you seriously claiming that the word “nauseating” is name calling?

            Now, families of the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 want justice and justice will only happen when Russia takes full responsibility of what happened over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

            Is that something you support or do you still “understand” Putin’s reasoning for not wanting to take responsibility for the actions taken by the Russian-supported separatists in Donbas?

  8. Interesting development:
    “Russia Starts Production of 20 Tu-214 to Replace Boeing and Airbus Jets”



    “Russia to Resume Flights to 52 “Friendly” Countries”

    “Starting April 9, Russia will lift restrictions on flights to 52 “friendly” countries, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced Monday, Russian TASS Agency reported.”

    “…it was decided to completely lift restrictions on charter and scheduled flights to Argentina, Algeria, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, Vietnam, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Egypt, Zimbabwe, India and Israel, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, North Korea, China, Costa Rica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Malaysia, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Morocco, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, Mongolia, Namibia, Oman, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Fiji, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Philippines, Namibia, Oman, Peru, Pakistan, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and Uruguay.”


    • Yea, suck ups. And you have to get there.

      And see how it goes as the sanctions roll out further as well as third party sanctions .

      • How come those restrictions arent used against major offender Saudi Arabia and its attacks on neighbour Yemen ( who were in internal civil war when the Saudis piled in)
        US doesnt need their oil either but of course even after 9/11 Saudi Arabia got kid gloves special treatment. Their rulers even use public
        oil revenues for their most lavish lifestyles

        • @ Duke
          Your contributions are far too erudite for the current conversation. Putin is the “Rogue du jour” — all other Rogues are forgotten. In particular, it is now perfectly acceptable to warmly embrace previous Rogue nations such as Iran and Venezuela. It is a definite no-no to ask why sanctions are selectively applied to Rogue A but not to Rogue B. And it is also unacceptable to discuss how other (super)powers have conducted their own illegal invasions in recent times — thereby also earning them the label of Rogue.
          Any questions?

      • Not “suck ups” at all: just countries that aren’t impressed or deterred by the inconsistent posturing going on in DC and Brussels.
        The list includes the whole BRICS block, part of NATO, the big ME oil producers, and even US über-friend Israel.
        Food for thought, don’t you think?

  9. Not only has Saudi Arabia completely ignored US requests to increase oil production — it’s actively raising the price of its own crude (for the third time in a month).


    Whether intended or not, this helps increase the uptake of discounted Russian oil.

    This, undoubtedly, is a manifestation of Saudi displeasure at the fact that Mr. Biden called the nation a pariah during his presidential campaign.
    It seems that the “west” is having real difficulty adjusting to the new world order.


  10. I’ve allowed a lot of latitude in comments for this post because of the unusual circumstances. But several of you have abused this. Comments are closed.