The Voices of War

49. Dmytro Gurin - The View From Ukraine

VOW 49 | Russian Invasion

 

Today, I spoke with Dmytro Gurin, who is a currently serving Member of Parliament in Ukraine. Dmytro is originally from Mariupol, the besieged city in South-eastern Ukraine that is capturing global headlines, where he has spent his childhood and where he went to university. In the past, Dmytro has also spent more than a decade living in Moscow and is very familiar with Russian political and media machinations. 

 

He joins me today, just after midday on Sunday, 13th of March, Eastern European Time, to discuss the evolving Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some of the topics we covered are:

  • Current situation in Ukraine
  • Change of Russian tactics to target civilians
  • General Russian orientation towards Ukraine
  • The reality faced by Russian troops
  • Life in the besieged city of Mariupol
  • Western predicament and possible ways forward
  • What Ukraine needs from the West
  • Possible scenarios inside Russia
  • Difference between Ukrainian and Russian armies
  • The state of the Ukrainian nation

Listen to the podcast here

 

Dmytro Gurin – The View From Ukraine

My guest in this episode is Dmytro Gurin, who is a serving member of the Parliament in Ukraine, representing a district in Kyiv. However, much like many of his colleagues, he’s in an undisclosed location due to credible threats of assassination by Russian forces or contractors. Dmytro is originally from Mariupol, the besieged city in South-eastern Ukraine that is capturing global headlines where he spent his childhood, and where he went to university.

In the past, Dmytro has also spent more than a decade living in Moscow and is very familiar with Russian political and media machinations. He joins me now to discuss the evolving Russian invasion of Ukraine with a particular focus on its impact on the civilian population. Dmytro, thank you very much for joining me on The Voice of War.

Thank you for inviting me.

We are now on the eighteenth day of the invasion. How are you personally holding up?

I’m okay. I want to comment on the undisclosed location. It’s not where everybody is afraid of all these Russian troops that will kill us because we’re on the shooting list. We’re on the shooting list. I checked with intelligence. Three of my friends were also on the shooting list like me. It’s not why we’re in an undisclosed location. We don’t say where we are not to help Russia to know how to kill us one by one.

I think half of the members of the Parliament are in the Russian sanctions. I think Russia wants to kill them all. We are all in Ukraine, the government, the President, and MPs. We’re all working on different fronts. I’ve never been on their front. I’m on the information front because I’m from the media. I worked all my life in media and digital communications. We’re fighting. We are on the eighteenth day of the war.

When the war begins, you are shocked in the beginning. You think it’ll last in a very short period like 1 week or 2 weeks. In two weeks, you understand that it’ll last long. Even when we see that Russia started to collapse economically, it’ll take a lot of time anyway. In history, I remember what was going on during World War. Russia had this war for more than a lot of time after its economy collapsed.

It’s already a question of the month. What I see is that the war became more and more in Russia. With talks of prisoners of war, we see that the morale in the Russian Army is low and is dropping. Because their brains are washed with propaganda, everybody thought they will have three days of blitzkrieg, and everybody will meet them with flowers. Now, we’re meeting them to give flowers at their funerals. We’re not ready to do it because we need money for other things now. At the beginning of the invasion, the main joke was the Russian soldiers come with flower seeds in their pockets for all of this to have any sense because it’s senseless, “Put some seeds because you’re the fertiliser, and we want to have flowers from the places where you have gone.”

That’s an interesting point. Firstly, I’ve seen that meme. You and I spoke briefly before. I’m from the city of Sarajevo, which as you know full well was a besieged city in not too distant past. In the spirit of Sarajevan and Bosnian nationhood, humour played a critical role. You are in the information space. We are seeing so many memes coming out. It’s crazy to call it funny because it’s war, and people are dying. How do you see that? What do you see as the role of humour right now in Ukraine?

I think that all of us would die from stress if we didn’t have humour. With what’s going on, it’s not possible to survive without humour now. All the stories you hear from people who evacuated from Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel, Kharkiv, and Mariupol. The stories from my parents in Mariupol are so awful. Without humour, we all would die from stress. Humour helps us. In general, we have a totally different situation than it was at the beginning of this war. A few weeks ago, it started like an ordinary war, an army against an army.

Everyone would die from stress if there is no humour during the most challenging times. Share on X

We beat their assess on the battlefield, and they understood it’s not an easy walk. It’ll not be a three days blitzkrieg all over Ukraine. They changed tactics a few days ago. In the Russian army, their soldiers got the first permission to kill civilians. A few days ago, in some directions, they had orders to kill civilians. They already had an order. They decided that if we all resist because now 8 of 10 Ukrainians are ready to shoot, and 8 of 10 Ukrainians were in the army or helping the army.

“If they’ll resist, let’s kill them all.” It’s not something new for Russia. They did it several times during the last 300 years. The people who know the history will not trust the Soviet narrative about one nation. All this Russian propaganda brainwashed their citizens, and they tried to brainwash Ukrainian people in the 20th century. I lived in Russia for twelve years during the Putin regime.

I understood that the war is inevitable and it’ll be bloody. Russia doesn’t allow us to exist in their minds. They think that there is no Ukraine and there’s no Ukrainian nation. It’s Putin, first of all, but it’s not just about Putin. It’s common in Russia. Everywhere in the financial sector, and I’m talking about top level, people are saying, “What is Ukraine? I’m sorry. You don’t have the market. You don’t have the economy. You have funny language. Ukraine is not a country at all.” That’s a common position.

It’s a cultural narrative almost in Russia.

Yeah, and it’s not about Putin. It’s now, “Ukraine has some funny people.” They have borscht and vodka also. We like to go to Kyiv to eat some borscht. Kyiv has to be Russian for the borscht to be cheaper for us. That’s the logic. I understood that the war would be inevitable. What we have in Ukraine is not the war anymore. Everybody has to understand that it’s past murder. It’s Bosnia.

Now, we have some refugees already. They went out from Irpin and Bucha. They started going out a few days ago and started to tell their stories. It’s awful because the Russians kill people for food. They occupy a territory. We have to understand that Bucha, Irpin, and Gostomel are the suburbs of Kyiv. These are rich suburbs. The Russians occupy part of the territory, and they don’t have supply because we’re blowing up their supply lines. Our farmers have javelins.

The territorial unit defence has javelins. The farmers have Russian weapons because we captured during this war more weapons than the Ukrainian manufactured for the army. We have a lot. They are occupying a territory. They don’t have supplies, so they need food. They go to houses, and they ask people to give all the food they have. If they are against it, they are killed. If you don’t give them all your food, they kill you. You cannot go out of a building from your house because the snipers are in the streets. They don’t shoot into the air to say, “Don’t go here.” They kill the moment when they see a person on the street. I don’t know if it’s like in Bosnia.

As you’re talking, I’m getting goosebumps because I remember looking out the window, and the snipers were shooting at everything that moved. Because they got bored, they were shooting at the pigeons. They were so bored, and they had that much ammunition that they were shooting at pigeons in the street. That certainly resonates with me.

You made the point that the morale of the Russian troops is low, but then also that the Russian population, by and large, supports the war or the invasion. How do those two marry up? If the morale is low, you would expect the soldiers to give up, run away, or simply surrender, but we’re not seeing that en mass, or are we?

We see them more and more giving up. We have small groups. A few days ago, it started to be more and more massive. More and more small troops go into the Russian border, and some go into the Ukrainian positions to give up. It’s pretty interesting. The part of that troops is in very low morale because they understood that we would kill them. All of them who we can kill, we will. The only possibility for them is to give up now because of what they’re doing now with our cities.

The other part of the troops got mad because we beat them on the battlefield. They are angry because they lived in this myth of the great Russian army. For them, it’s hard to understand that they are just people. They that our territorial defence units have better equipment than the regular Russian army. It’s a reality because we have had a war for eight years already, and they only have a myth about war. The Russian army didn’t have real conflicts.

The second part of the army got mad, and they killed people for fun. I talked with a refugee yesterday from Irpin and she told me stories. My blood was boiling. The Russians killed not only for food. It’s something that is awful, but it can have some practical sense. They kill people for fun. The Russian army understood that they were not invited here because they were brainwashed that everybody is waiting for them. There is a Nazi government. Russian people were captured in Ukraine, controlled by the Nazis. That’s a myth that they are brainwashed with. They understood that it was not true.

VOW 49 | Russian Invasion
Russian Invasion: The Russians kill not only for food. They kill people for fun.

 

I guess now they understand.

They’re going to Ukraine, and now they see that we have roads already because they don’t have them in Russia. The biggest and most popular reform in Ukraine is final debt centralisation. The most successful and popular reform in Ukraine is financial debt centralisation. Now, the budgets of the government during the last eight years have multiplied four times.

If we count state programs for the development of regions, it’s six times. We now have roads in villages. We have a huge road program all over the country because our state is without roads. This is a classic Eastern Soviet state. It’s not anymore. There are Russian prisoners from that side, and we are catching their audio phone calls. They say, “We don’t understand why we are here. They live better here than us.”

They have roads in villages. This story about roads in villages was repeated by different people in the different phone calls that we caught. They also need time to understand something. They understood that we didn’t want to see them. They decided to terrorise us. If we cannot break or win against you on the battlefield, we will just kill you all. That’s a new tactic.

In Mariupol, there is now heating, water, gas, electricity, and a net mobile network. Only several spots in the city have mobile networks for several hours per day because every day, we repair the mobile tower, and every day, they hit it with artillery or something else. It’s a medieval siege there. All the cities are blocked. All the roads and fields around are mined by the Russian side, and 350,000 people are trapped.

All of these people are in Mariupol because they couldn’t believe Russia will bump into a Russian-speaking city. Mariupol is a 95% Russian-speaking city. My parents are in Mariupol because of this. They thought that the Russian army will go very fast through Mariupol. They will just block it and they will sit there because they’re 67 and 69. They had already run from the war eight years ago, and they decided they are too alt to run again.

They couldn’t imagine what Russia would do, and frankly speaking, even my understanding in Russia is I couldn’t imagine the level of madness because their bombing and shelling never stopped. They drop a bomb. We’re telling about these big uncontrollable bombs from aeroplanes that you cannot point to the exact location. There is no precision guidance. You just drop them. The big bombs that they drop on the hospital, the hole is 6 meters and 20 feet depth.

They drop a bomb every 30 minutes on the city. It totally destroyed all communications. They cannot be repaired because they’re bombing and bombing. They shoot from artillery without any stops. They also started to shoot from tanks to nine-storey buildings. These multi-apartment buildings they’re shooting them from the tanks. All the people now live in the basements, and it’s not a bomb shelter. It’s just basements of nine-storey classic Soviet buildings.

They don’t have water. They don’t have food already. They melt snow for water. They used water from a battery system or from a radiator system. They have some in the buildings. They have some food. They have storages that people had from preservation and so on. There are no shops. Everything from the shops was already taken. There is no medicine. All the hospitals in the city are bombed. The maternity hospital, children’s hospital, central hospital, and emergency units, everything is destroyed.

My school is destroyed. My university is destroyed. They decided to destroy the whole city that I lived in for years. In the district where I grew up, there are no even trees anymore because some of the trees were destroyed by artillery and air bombing. Some of the trees were cut to prepare food because people prepare food on the open fire. When I think about my parents, who are 67 and 69, who are preparing food on an open fire and live without any heating, and it’s below zero there, I can’t imagine it. It doesn’t fit in my head.

Have you spoken to your parents? Are you keeping in touch with them? Are you able to keep in touch?

Once in three days for 30 seconds. I know they’re alive, and that’s all. That’s the only thing I know. I think they took Mariupol as a target and decided to destroy the city to show everybody that they can. There is no difference between destroying the city and the use of a technical nuke. The only difference is that they’re doing it slowly. The bodies lay on the streets a lot. During the last few days, they took the bodies of around 1,500 people from the streets. That’s only what they collected.

VOW 49 | Russian Invasion
Russian Invasion: There is no difference between destroying the city and the use of a technical nuke. The only difference is that Russia is doing it slowly.

 

They are now burying them in mass burials as well.

They have mass burials, and nobody knows how many people or bodies are in the destroyed buildings in the rubble. There are several times more. It’s 10,000 or 12,000. Nobody knows exactly.

Can people get out? Is there any way they can get out of Mariupol at the moment?

There is no way. Five cars went out through minefields. You can imagine. Everything around is hardly mined. The roads are mined. The fields are mined. Everything is mined. They shoot civilian cars that are trying to escape. They have an order not to give anybody the possibility to exit the city. They decided to destroy the city to show what they can to Ukraine and everybody. Also, to make hunger in the middle of Europe for 350,000 people that are trapped now in Mariupol in this mouse trap.

The main thing that your audience has to understand is they won’t stop. Ukraine is just the beginning. They don’t have the possibility to stop anymore because they understand that if they stop, they go to The Hague. They go to the court and to the Tribunal. They cannot stop. If they stop, they die. Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Poland, it’s just the question of where is your line with us.

VOW 49 | Russian Invasion
Russian Invasion: Russia won’t stop. Ukraine is just the beginning. They don’t have the possibility to stop anymore because they understand that if they stop, they go to The Hague. If they stop, they die.

 

I mean exactly yours, but in general. Where is the line? This line is hunger in the centre of Europe for 350,000, not because we don’t have food, but because somebody decided that we will be hungry and anybody who will try to escape, we will kill this person. Also, this red line is bombed, the maternity hospital.

The European leaders are saying that they trust the dialogue with Russia. We in Ukraine are joking that they will have a dialogue. They will even talk with Russian soldiers at government cafes. They will talk and talk with them. They will have this dialogue until the end. World War III had started already. It’s a matter of time before everybody joins on the right side. It’s the question of whether you have this war on the Ukrainian territory or the US territory. That’s an easy choice.

As an ethnic Bosnian, I can totally empathise with the sense of helplessness and bewilderment and the amazement that the world could stand by and watch. It’s a cruel reality of interests competing against values.

I agree. I talked before that a big war is inevitable. Now, we have different situations. The big war has already started. The only difference is where you guys will have this war. On the Ukraine territory or yours? At what moment will you join us? When the war is still on Ukraine’s territory, or when the war already comes to yours? There are two types of people.

One type is not dropping bombs on maternity hospitals. They don’t care. They can’t press this button. Another type is who can do it. The second type can drop a bomb on the maternity hospital. It’s not the point for them where this maternity hospital is located, in Warsaw, Kyiv, Berlin, or Mariupol. They will just go further.

How do you see this unfolding, given the fact that Western capitals are very resistant to either enforcing a no-fly zone or openly declaring war on Russia? I’d be surprised if that happens. I’m sure you would be surprised if that happens in the near future. How do you see this going forward, especially given the fact that what you’ve identified as a real possibility of Russian soldiers giving up on mass and the morale being low? What are the avenues that can bring this to a quick resolution?

I think that everybody wants to wait because everybody has seen the Ukrainian army resists, and it can stop the Russian troops. One of the sanctions for Russia is something that nobody has seen before at all. The sanctions for the national currency and gold reserves is something unbelievable. It’s something that nobody even understands how it’ll work exactly because nobody has seen it before.

The time and place are on our side. I think that Mr. Putin wants NATO to join this war. He wants to strike nukes on the European cities. I understand the position to come, but I think of what the European people say, not the leaders. All these stories from refugees from the cities where the Russian army killed people for fun are starting to spread.

These people with black faces, I have never seen faces like this before. People have seen something that they will never forget. As a Bosnian, I think you understand what I’m telling about. They started to tell the story, and the story is spreading. In a few days, the world will hear the stories about mass murder. It depends on us what will be the Mariupol in world history, or it’ll be the rebuilt city that we will build again as a symbol, or it’ll be in line with Auschwitz because it’s 350,000 people.

About the story of hunger, Russia never changes. They did it 100 years ago on a much bigger scale. It’s our national tragedy. It’s the same way. They blocked territories. They took all the food, and they killed everybody who tried to escape. Part of my family ran out of this blocked territory. They live near Kharkiv, and they ran 100 years ago by accident with ten children. Their methods never change. It’s the cruel army that kills civilians. The commanders give permission. At one moment, they give an order. They say, “Kill all the civilians you see,” and it’s not Putin who pressed this button. It’s not Putin who gave this order.

You’ve spent twelve years in Russia. Given what you said about what the everyday Russian thinks about the invasion, for a while, we were hearing potential whispers and maybe the hope of an internal revolution inside Russia to stop the war. How do you feel about that now? Do you still have any communication with people in Russia at all? What is the dominant narrative there? Is it shifting at all towards this not being a special operation but being a genuine war and an invasion of a sovereign nation?

It’s pretty difficult to answer your question because all my friends out there are already out of the country. The last of them exited a few weeks ago when the war started. In several days, all of them were out. I don’t know what the Russian population thinks about this country. I think that in any country, when a country starts a war, at the first moment, people are trying to think that they will have a victory. That it’ll be a short war. It will be in weeks. We will win. That is a national story, but when they start to get the bodies of their soldiers, the situation changes.

Whenever a country starts a war, people always assume they will gain victory in no time. But when they start to get the bodies of their soldiers, the situation changes. Share on X

We have Russia as our counterpart, and they don’t take the bodies of their soldiers. They just leave them. The Russian society doesn’t know that people die in there because they leave their bodies. We don’t know what to do with them. We used to refer to a special refrigerator. We have a problem in Ukraine because we don’t have enough refrigerators. We killed 13,000 Russian soldiers. It’s a lot.

How many?

13,000, and it’s a lot. We have evidence that they killed their wounded. We understood that they have huge logistic problems, and they cannot get these wounded to the hospitals. It’s too difficult, so they kill them. We cannot imagine in Ukraine killing our soldiers. It’s something very medieval that’s going on here. If you and the audience of your show want to understand better what’s going on, you have to read The Winter War. It’s about the war in Finland in 1939 because everything is the same.

VOW 49 | Russian Invasion
The Winter War: The Russo-Finnish War of 1939-40

It’s a small book. It’s 30 pages with instructions on how to make war with your neighbour. They have it for 120 years or 200 years. They do the same. Eighty years had gone, and nothing had changed. It’s the same Finland People’s Republic. It’s the same story that is our people who are controlled by Nazis. Everything is the same. We assure you that we will win this war because it’s a war for our existence. Everybody now sees that they don’t want to control. They want to destroy and kill all of us.

It’s hard to believe, but we don’t have to hear what they say. As Mr. Lavrov says in the morning that it was the nest of pregnant Nazis in the maternity hospital. He says that there were no bombings, and all of this is just a movie. In several hours, he says that we are making biological weapons that can kill the nation and that will kill all the Russians. We want to spread it with pigeons. We don’t have to listen to this. We have to see what they’re doing. They now are shooting 9 stories or 12 stories building from tanks. They decided to bomb the Mariupol to the ground, and we have to look at this.

Dmytro, what do you want the Western world leaders to do right now to help Ukraine? What does Ukraine need?

Ukraine needs more support. As I said, we understand that we’ll win because we don’t have any other option. They want to destroy and kill us all. It’s not the first time in the history. They did do it around every 100 years. We need more weapons. We need more volunteers and finances for microfinance stabilisation. We need help with our refugees. If you give all of this, you can’t imagine how grateful we are.

This war went to another stage. It’s mass murdering. When the war started, everybody was ready to sanctions against the war and to move. The Russians moved, and everybody answered it with their moves. Now, it’s mass murdering. To have mass murder in 2022 in the centre of Europe, and hunger, nobody understands and knows how to react. We’re asking about Green Corridors. It’s the main thing now because our guys are beating Russian armies on the battlefield, and they decided to kill our parents and our children.

I can’t imagine the old world that united around Ukraine cannot decide the problem with hunger in the centre of Europe that’s artificially made. All the world together cannot get people out from mouse traps, because if we cannot do it, what can we do? We have one maniac with nuclear weapons. He is destroying one city and killing another hundred thousand people, and we are just looking at this.

Maniac don’t stop. There is now a discussion about Putin being mad from medicine point of view or medically. I think that situation is a little bit more difficult. For a long time already, there are rumours about cancer. We have some information and some proofs that he had cancer already in 2012. The National Institute of Cancer Specialists says that it looks like it’s a brain cancer that is pressed on a movement centre in the brain. If you pay attention to his legs, first of all, you’ll see that something weird is going on, and it’s not Parkinson’s because the whole body is affected by Parkinson’s, and his is only on the legs.

The doctors from National Cancer say that it’s a pretty standard situation for some brain cancers, but it’s no good news. You can live with brain cancer for a long time on chemistry even if you cannot do surgery. I am a cancer survivor. I had cancer twice, and I know that everybody who had cancer says the same story. The only thing you can think when you get diagnosed is, “What I didn’t do in my life.”

“What haven’t I achieved that I wanted to achieve?”

World War III has started already. They have to open their eyes and read the polls in Europe and America of what people think and what the electorate thinks about it. They will see the level of support, and they have to think about their next elections. It’s an important thing for them in democratic societies. We need any possible method to get our people, our elderly, our children, and our women. If you cannot give us to close the sky over, it’s because I think it’s a little bit more.

If you remember the story of Irish fishermen, they decided they don’t like to make the training in their country. They said, “We won’t do it.” If it goes as it goes, I think in a week, the fishermen are now together, Mariupol is mined, just to get out to people out from there. If leaders cannot do it, people will do it. We’re in a media world now, and everybody is seeing what’s going on.

I would add words about Russia. I think that they will have a collapse of the economy. Everybody there who can think or have brains understands already that the popularity of this war is dropping dramatically. Half of the population already thinks that Russia is the aggressor. As I said, they haven’t seen the bodies of the soldiers because they don’t take these bodies. They don’t bring them home. It’s so easy. It’s a simple decision of this problem.

I think they will be shocked very soon. They don’t understand yet that they will have a problem with food during the next season, the next autumn and winter. They’re now unconnected from the whole world. They’ll become North Korea. In the world, everybody thinks how it’s possible that the Russians will become North Korea. Is it okay for them? Everybody has to understand that making North Korea the military dictator from Russia is the goal of Mr. Putin.

He is dying unhappy and a very ill man. This person can press the red button. Frankly speaking, I’m sure that we will see the tactical nuke. I think that the Russian population will not resist. They don’t have these practices and structures. It’s because if you want to make a revolution, you need structures. You need networks of people, and they are destroying in Russia all these structures with the national police.

Everybody has to understand that making North Korea the military dictator from Russia is the goal of Mr. Putin. He is dying unhappy and a very ill man. Share on X

They have an opposition, and this opposition goes to YouTube. I gave them a big interview. They know they’re sitting and talking that all of this is not right. We understand that Putin is your enemy, and Putin is our enemy also, and all of this. I talked to them, and I understood that 30,000 people were living in this program. In Ukraine, we would train everybody to make Molotov cocktails.

If you will have problems in your country on YouTube, and it’s your last day to tell somebody something useful in Russian circumstances in our country, we would explain how to make a Molotov cocktail because it’s the most useful in this situation. They’re talking. I don’t expect any organised revolution or a real revolution. I think that the possibilities are military coup because the army doesn’t like what’s going on.

The only person who pushed this war is Putin and Shoigu, the Minister of Defence. It’s a military coup or just total chaos. I can imagine total chaos in Russia. I think the Russian Federation will collapse. I proposed it for 2024, but it can start already at the end of this year or maybe in the spring of next year. We won’t see Russia pretty soon as we used to see it now because people in Tatarstan or people in Bashkortostan don’t understand why they have to die in the war against the Ukrainians.

The people from Chechnya are under the control of Kadyrov, that’s like Roman emperors. They are barbarians on the service of the Roman emperors. They have the same function. Chechnya is a very special situation because Russia lost the war to Chechnya. Russia pays incredible money to Chechnya. All these years, Russia pays Chechnya for reparations. The Chechens control a lot of the economic low-level and mid-level businesses all over Russia.

They are uncontrollable. Kadyrov said on live Instagram that they would kill the family of a Chechen judge of the High Courts, and all his family have to be dead. He said it on Instagram or on live television. They are uncontrolled. There is no Russian law there. In reality, the Chechens are winning this war. It’s a very special situation, but other nations inside Russia don’t understand why they have to die in this very stupid war.

My prognosis in this war is that the world will see these incredible stories from Ukraine. The world is now united around Ukraine and the people in the world. Nobody waited that we would resist like this. Everybody thought that Ukraine would fall. Frankly speaking, we didn’t understand, and we told everybody, “Why do we have to fall?” The interesting thing is Russia didn’t have wars. The last real war in Russia was the war with Chechnya at the beginning of the 2000s.

They terrorised civilians. They destroyed Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. What wars did they have? Is it Georgia? I’m sorry, it’s a nice joke. It’s Russia against Georgia. Is it Syria? They bombed civilians from planes. Where did their army have to train? If you want your army to be effective, your army has to take part in wars. It’s so easy. Nothing more. We have 440,000 people that rotated through the frontline during these eight years. It’s a big difference between the people who heard the sound of bullets and who didn’t. We understand that it’s our lands, our parents, and our children. There is no nowhere to escape us from here.

VOW 49 | Russian Invasion
Russian Invasion: If you want your army to be effective, it has to take part in wars. The United States have 440,000 people who rotated through the frontline in the past eight years.

 

What’s been incredible for us in the West to watch has been the uprising of the people. Also, social media play out. We’re seeing urban warfare experts give advice to people in Kyiv on how to make Molotov of cocktails and barricades. It’s a different level of warfare. You’re an information expert, but this is something very different. I feel that it has also brought the world or has brought Ukraine into everybody’s pocket in their smartphone, which is bringing a lot of support, at least in spirit, to Ukraine. That’s something new.

We have a nation now. We always had it, but we always have questions. Some people are Russian-speaking. There are some differences and all of these things. Now, everybody understands that we are the nation, and nobody says it’s wrong or it’s not real. When you have a nation, you can give people weapons, and you understand that they won’t kill each other.

We had a very big discussion about weapons for civilians. Every half of the year, we have a new project of the law to give personal weapons like rifles to civilians. When the war started, when the first rockets dropped, everybody understood that now is the time. We started to spread automatic rifles on the street. I took my Kalashnikov six hours after the rockets. I don’t know how to shoot them, but I have it now.

I don’t think I can have it after the war. It will be somewhere in good hands, but we’re not afraid of it anymore. There are all these recipes from the Minister of Defense of Molotov cocktail. It’s a surviving country because everybody is afraid now and very nervous. Making the Molotov cocktail is something simple and useful that you can do. We have one more very interesting effect of the war. After this “Russian should go fuck yourself” from this famous man, our officials started swearing in the official messages in videos and on Instagram.

It looks weird, but it’s okay for everybody. We are now in a very special time. It’s a time of mass graves, but it’s also a time of unity in Ukraine. I’ve worked with Ulana Suprun, who was the Minister of Healthcare. I’ve worked in her team to make healthcare reform. We have our own Ukrainian NHS now. I don’t know if Australia has the same system.

It’s similar.

We have NHS now. She was an American citizen. She is pretty famous in Ukraine and all of the Ukrainian diaspora states. She went to Ukraine about a week before Maidan. She decided that with her husband. He’s also a diaspora, and he’s from Canada. They decided that it was their moment to come back to Ukraine and build this country. They came back to Ukraine, and Maidan started at the most interesting moment.

These diaspora people are holders of Ukrainian history and culture. You can’t kill the Ukrainian spirits while the Ukrainian diaspora exists. She told me a very interesting thing. All of us Ukrainians went to this moment for 400 years. We moved to the situation when we will beat Russia. Russia will not be a threat to us anymore in several years at all. We will win before this war, but they won’t be a threat to us or to Europe anymore. They won’t have a nuclear weapon. They will not be the Russian Federation State anymore. They will not have this huge brainwashed army. In four years, we won’t have it anymore. That’s good news.

These diaspora people are holders of Ukrainian history and culture. You can't kill the Ukrainian spirits while the Ukrainian diaspora exists. Share on X

That’s very good news. I think that’s also a very good note to end on. My last question is how can everyday citizens and the citizens around the world support both Ukraine, but also refugees that are now flooding? I think more than two and a half million have already left Ukraine mainly through Poland, I guess. How can everyday citizens help?

In several ways. First, we have official bank accounts in our national bank for humanitarian needs. It’s very easy to find it on the internet. It’s the National Bank of Ukraine. It’ll show you the account. Any money, I appreciate it. Second, you can take your phone and call your congressman or senator, a member of Parliament office, to ask him what he personally is doing to all of these things in Ukraine to stop as people who elected him.

One more thing is to press to close the sky over in Ukraine. One more thing is refugees. Refugees are a problem. We need to save our families, children, parents, and the elderly. We appreciate all the help from the European states, Americans, Canada, and Australia. It’s a huge help. If you are ready to get some refugees for a year, for several months just to have them as a part of your family, you always can as a diaspora in your country, and they will know these families. They will propose to our volunteers who are controlling this stream of refugees. Australia is far away from Ukraine, but I think some people will be ready to go to your country because you are the people who are ready to help us.

On that note, I know that we’ve gone well over our great time, and you’ve got other interviews coming up. Thank you very much for your time. I wish you and your countrymen and women all the best.

Thank you.

 

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