Beginning Over, 10. Another Stupid War.

So, I was wrong and Putin did attack Ukraine. The man isn't a rational, thinking human; he's a megalomaniac who doesn't care about anyone but himself and the "glory" only he can bring to his country. 

The problem for Putin isn't so much that Ukraine looks to the West, and wants to join NATO, and perhaps the European Union. If we look at that angle, we can see that the Baltic states and Poland belong to the Union, and to NATO. But Poland's government is leaning away from the rest of the Union, and slowly becoming less liberal, less open. Ukraine was opening up. Belarus, in between, has been taken over by a tiny dictator that is bosom buddies with Putin. Putin wants Ukraine to become another Belarus, easily molded to Russia's (Putin's) needs and wants. Putin was happy when a puppet dictator was in Kyiv, but the Ukrainian people don't want anything to do with another dictatorship, so Putin is punishing them, before he puts in place his own handpicked voice box. 

Ukraine is one of the EU's largest trade partners. Aside from minerals and metals, the EU imports natural gas and large amounts of cereal from Ukraine. Billions of euros are traded. Putin would love to be able to control it, because then he can control a larger part of the EU economy, more than he does now. But he is about to get tested, because, thanks to his invasion, the EU has already levied sanctions on Russia, even as it has lost trade with Ukraine. Now, Europe is scrambling to acquire its needs from elsewhere. Of course, that means the recovery from the pandemic is going to slow down drastically, but it means that we can show Putin that Europe can take a hit and still stand united (I hope).

Yes, prices are going to rise. They've already begun. In the weeks leading up to the war, fuel prices have inched skywards. Gasoline was around €1.70 a liter, and diesel at €1.50. Now, gasoline is up ten cents more, and diesel from five to eight. When our daughter came home last Friday night, the bus she was on from Vigo passed by the cheapest gas station around here, just above Caldas de Reis. This gas station has two posts, one on each side of the road. They both have different prices. The side that is unmanned had diesel earlier this week at €1.38, about ten cents cheaper than on the other side. It tends to have brisk service, and I've never had to wait. 

Well, Friday night, the cars were backed up onto the road in the queue. An attendant from the other side of the road had to come over to help speed up payment at the machine and help drivers put in their fuel. People have gone on a hunt for the cheapest gas, knowing that prices are going to only go higher. 

Others have gone and hiked prices just for profit. Last week I bought a kilo of flour at forty-seven cents. Yesterday, that same flour cost fifty. I am willing to bet the flour they had on the shelves yesterday was bought and stockpiled long before the situation in Ukraine even had the whiff of invasion about it.  

Of course, in the rest of Europe we are not suffering one iota of what they are suffering in Ukraine. Some time ago, I opened an account on TikTok, and started following different pages; history, linguistics, comic pages, etc. I also started following a Russian woman who posted different aspects of living in St. Petersburg, natashasrussia.  Since then, she has described the war from the perspective of the majority of Russians; they don't want it. Thousands have protested and hundreds have been arrested, including an elderly woman who survived the siege of Leningrad. Mothers whose sons are in the army have had no word from them after they had left to go "on exercises." It turns out they were sent directly to the war without a last visit home, and without being told where they were being sent, unprepared. 

I also follow a Ukrainian woman, xenasolo, who seems to be in Kyiv, and talks about the situation they are in. Other videos pop up, including one of a Ukrainian grandmother coming up to a Russian soldier to give him sunflower seeds to put in his pocket, so when he "lies" there, flowers will grow. What a beautiful, subtle threat. Then, there was a driver who found a halted Russian tank, which seemed to have run out of gas, and offered to tow them back to Russia. Perhaps the saddest were of the Russian warship that told the defenders of Snake Island to surrender, only to be met with "Go f**k yourselves!" The soldiers were apparently massacred. Also, the picture of the Ukrainian soldier who sacrificed his life to blow up a bridge and slow the Russian advance. There are also videos of refugees, mostly women and children, because men between the ages of 18 and 60 aren't allowed out of the country. They will be mobilized as the need arises. One video showed a mother reunited with her children, after a stranger brought them out. Apparently, the father was coming with them to join the mother, but he was stopped, so he asked a woman he didn't know, walking in the direction of the border, to take his children to their mother, which she did. 

These refugees are being welcomed by the majority of European countries, except the UK, which will only give visas to those who have British family, I believe. This is good news, but one has to wonder how short a memory most have in Europe. Back in 2015, when Syrian refugees were flooding Europe, escaping from the carnage in their country, most countries set up barriers. Only Germany accepted a good number of them. Many still languish in refugee camps in Greece. So, Syrians were escaping war, and Ukrainians are escaping war, but only Ukrainians are welcome. Racism and bigotry, much?

May the Ukrainians resist as long as possible.

Life continues.

Sunflower, Flower, Field, Flowers


  1. We have a lot of Syrians here in the Netherlands, Maria. Many of them are still living in tented camps. In the Netherlands. Modern, progressive, tolerant Netherlands. Not a lot of people know this. They are hurt and angry at the favour being shown Ukrainian refugees by Europeans.


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