WTF Mr. Putin?

Why Truth Faking, Mr. Putin? Why? By unleashing this nightmare of the “special military operation” aka a full scale military assault, aka an invasion of an innocent country, you have cemented your place in history as a barbaric leader, instead of a nation builder. The ironic thing is that you have done it to yourself and for completely wrong reasons, all while faking the truth and believing your own nonsense. You put your own country into a downward spiral, and inflicted severe economic pain on your own people and caused immeasurable suffering on the people of Ukraine. Your soldiers are killing innocent people, destroying Ukraine’s infrastructure and its economy. These are not actions of a great leader. You did manage to succeed where others did not. You managed to unite and strengthen the resolve of the Ukrainian people to fight for their country and you managed to rise up and unite NATO and the entire civilized world against you in protest.

This article is a view of a single person, but one whose family has been devastated by fascists. One who has had decades of experience living and dealing with Russia, Ukraine and the US. I always try to be fair and balanced in my situational assessments and always strive to understand all sides. And although you may have you reasons for being pissed off at the West, you are going about things completely the wrong way. Stop! Stop Now!!! It may be too late to put yourself on the right side of history, but every life you save going forward, will be a life, which will count towards your redemption.

A bit of background, so it is clear where I come from and why there is zero tolerance of Nazis (neo and otherwise) in my life. My entire family is Jewish and has roots in Ukraine. My Great Grandmother had 12 children, eight!!! of whom lost their lives during WWII fighting against the Nazis. One of my grandfathers perished during that War, also fighting fascists. My uncle lost his leg, while fighting the Nazis. My maternal Grandfather moved his wife and two young daughters to Moscow from Dnipro during Holodomor and served as a Policeman, when, while on duty a car struck him, and as a result he spent 14 year as a full quadriplegic invalid. My grandmother and my aunt stayed in Moscow and extinguished fougasse bombs on the roofs of the buildings. My Mom was born in Moscow and my dad, as a 13 year old, after having survived WWII in the Ukrainian Ghetto, went off to study across the Dniester River to Moldova and this is where I was born some years later.

I spent my childhood traveling between Moscow, Ukraine and Moldova, lived in Moscow about 1.5 years with my grandparents and went to school and summer camp there in the 6th grade. While in school and on our yard’s hockey rink, I had to learn first hand the tough ways of the Russian street and had to fight my way through the rookie indoctrinations in order to earn respect. My family and I spent almost every summer in Ukraine living among Ukrainians from Kosovo in the Carpathians to Odessa, Ochakiv and Mykolyiv oblast’. Besides experiencing cursory Soviet’-sponsored antisemitism, I never, ever had issues with Ukrainian people. When I was fourteen years old my family and I immigrated to the US and for the last 44 years that country has been my homeland.

In 1990 I took a distribution rights from a major US company, for which I worked in the US after college, and returned to Moscow to set up business operations and help provide badly needed telecom services to what was then still the Soviet Union. Next six years were spent building relationships across multiple regions of the Russian Federation, dealing with government officials, business people, bankers, gangsters, technicians. I have gotten to know and intimately understand many Russian people, a number of whom are still my friends.

In 1995 we expanded our company’s operations to Ukraine and in 1996 I sold the majority of the company and focused my efforts on bringing financing, risk mitigation and cross-border market entry services to businesses and state-owned companies. I started working in the International Trade and Development field and spent the next 26 years bringing US government and capital markets financing and complex insurance solutions to projects in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Among multiple other places, my work took me to seven regions of Russia and fifteen Ukrainian oblast’. Yes, once I have seen Petlura monument on Petlura Street in Rivno and yes I am sure, like in every other country, including Russia, there are groups of radical nationalists and neo fascists there. Yet, of the thousands of people I met in Ukraine, vast majority have been terrific, kind, smart and peace loving people. I have hundreds of friends in Ukraine and am grateful for these relationships. Your assertion that Ukraine is run by such people is simply wrong.

Having grown up on the streets of Kishinev, Moscow, Rome and Brooklyn, I am far from naïve. I have first hand witnessed gangsterism, corruption, racketeering, authoritarian rule and cynicism in every country I lived in, including my beloved United States. Through my work and personal contacts, I have met senior members of your first Administration, three Ukrainian Presidents, two Ukrainian Prime Ministers, member of the current Presidential Administration, plus a number of senior US officials and several Ambassadors from multiple countries. Thus through my access and many years of study, my understanding of the RU-UA geopolitics has been developed with the benefit of the multidecade firsthand exposure.

When you say “neo-Nazis in Ukraine are robbing the country”, you must mean corrupt government officials. True corruption in Ukraine has been massive and a huge deterrent to the country’s growth. But you would be well served to look inward at the insane levels of corruption in Russia – where the word “Otkat” rules the economy. You know what they say, about people in glass houses throwing stones.

However, whether it is corruption, or any other internal issues facing Ukrainians, it is their own business. Over the years, despite external interference from multiple directions, Ukrainian people have successfully addressed many complex issues, and will address many more if the country is allowed to develop without predators like you preying on it.

Let’s be frank, you don’t much care about neo-Nazis and Banderovites and you are just using this issue as a pretext to alter the geopolitical landscape in your fight with the West. I understand, that after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the West was not very kind to Russia, as it asserted its dominance and opened the way to freedom for multiple countries, which were part of the Warsaw Pact and the the FSU. I understand that you have felt demeaned for your country and I also understand, that despite several overtures by the West, no-one in the G20 really wanted to play with you, which made you feel left-out and fomented internal aggression. “I will show them” you must have thought, “nobody disrespects Russia”. Well…… you certainly have “shown them”……

I am not a big fan of China, but in 27 years since I first visited that country, which at the time was a primitive backwater, China has rocketed to become a global manufacturing powerhouse and the number two economy in the world. Now, that’s one way of “showing them”.

You’ve had 22 years and some of the biggest trove of human and natural resources in the world and what????? Russia’s economy is not even in the global top 10. Yes, you have rebuilt the military and saved a bunch of money in the reserves, all while taking advantage of the global demand and high prices for oil, gas and commodities. First round of sanctions in 2014, helped Russia a bit to develop the domestic production to substitute the restricted imports, graft helped some more (we all know of the Belorussian Salmon).

By attacking Ukraine, you picked on a country much smaller than yours, but you were the one who came across to the entire world as small and petty. As you must have learned on the streets, during your childhood, picking on those smaller than you is an act of cowardice and resolving disputes with fists, instead of brains and negotiating ability is the purview of the weak.

Stop this madness, stop faking the truth, withdraw your troops, get back to the negotiating table and face the truth. Ukraine is not yours and it will never be!

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