No one thought that …

No one in Kyiv thought that Russia would invade. No one thought that the war would go on for this long. Most thought it was going to be over in a couple of days. No one in the world thought that the Ukrainians would put up such a fight. And if you reckon that this is about Russia VS Ukraine then I think that you are wrong. This is about good VS evil, and that affects all of us.

If evil is allowed to thrive then God help us all. Evil, like a cancer, will spread, and before long we will all be terminal.

So, yes, we all need to help fight this evil, in any way we can. I know all the arguments about NATO and what the consequences will be if the West gets directly involved. Putin is not going to push the button. They are too selfish and indulgent for that, with their lavish lifestyles and what not.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke

The West needs to grow some balls and call Putin’s bluff. This is about fighting evil and if we bury our heads in the sand, then it is going to haunt us all until the end of time. Humanity is being tested here, and in my view, we are failing.

I am no economist but one quick look on Google and you can see that the Russian Ruble has basically bounced back. So much for all these tough measures the West are putting in place.

America and the West (NATO specifically) don’t want to send in troops to help in the fight against evil. No one is even asking them too. Mr. Zelensky is begging for support. For arms and technology, to help them fight off this evil. And yet, he is getting mostly lip service.

When we were in Krakow, after leaving Ukraine, I met a man from the world’s leading military contractor. A very warm, decent American man. It was a chance meeting, and we have stayed in touch online. This is what he sent me a few days ago, “I attended President Biden’s speech last night in Warsaw. Good speech. Nice words. Weapons, aircraft and ammunition would be better.”

I keep thinking, with each passing day, how naive I really am. If you think that Putin is going to stop at Ukraine then you are naive too. Again,this is not about Ukraine and Russia. This is about good and evil. If we allow this evil to fester and spread then God help us all.

“The world is learning that we are all connected and evil against on of us will affect all of us. The impact of the last 6 weeks is going to be years of suffering globally.”

The Nest

Kyiv is one of the world’s best kept secrets. Everyone who comes there is amazed. And they can’t wait to come back. It is a beautiful city, made for walking and exploring. You could stroll around for two weeks, summer or winter, and still not see and experience everything. Yeah, it is not a small city.

Ukraine has many challenges is not a perfect place (it is currently a war zone), but it has charm and soul, and that makes up for any flaws. Ukraine suffers from corruption and parasite oligarchs, but they are working on this, and things are getting better, year on year. And yes, the roads need to be improved, and medical care needs to develop further, but it was all in motion, and there was a big light in the tunnel. Ukraine is hard working and it is innovative and inspired. Most people in Ukraine have difficult lives, and the average salary is around $500 a month. These are humble and modest people and they are kind and warm. And they have the best sense of humour you could ever experience. People joke a lot in Ukraine. In Kyiv life was always filled with smiles and laughter.

There are many booming industries in Ukraine. Real estate in Kyiv was going gangbusters, and the IT sector is a phenomenon. Ukraine is the tech hub of Europe. Agriculture is the country’s largest industry – Ukraine is one of the biggest food producers in the world, and is often referred to as the breadbasket of Europe. Creativity and design are an inspired affair in Ukraine’s capital. International movie shoots had become common, and news of movie stars spotted in Kyiv was frequent. Top musicians perform in Kyiv constantly, and in my view, Kyiv was called “The next Berlin” for a very good reason. Within the next 5 years it was going to become a global hot spot. If Ukraine is destroyed we all lose here. The world is always looking for something new and fresh. Kyiv had it all to give. If it is taken away from us, the world loses out big time.

I could write a small book on eating out and coffee culture in Kyiv. When you come visit one day you will all be in for a stunning surprise. I have eaten at some of the coolest places around the world and Kyiv kicks ass. Yes, the silly stereotypes are strong and so many people often would ask me “Do you eat a lot of bread and soup in Ukraine?” We did in winter, and it is on the next level. You could do a culinary tour of Kyiv and you would be licking your lips at every encounter. Italian, Indian, Georgian, French, Isareli, Thai, Chinese … you name it, Kyiv has it, and it is all off the charts good. You would be seriously blown away. And the gourmet burgers … oh man !

A month ago we were still in Ukraine, heading towards Krakow. Our apartment in Kyiv , which we call The Nest, is a magical place. It feels like we have not been there for a long long time. These past few weeks have been intense, to say the least. From The Nest it was an 18 minute walk to the city center. In winter, when it snowed, it was about a 30 minute walk to a practice ski slope. You name the season, there is always so much to do in Kyiv. And it is photographer’s dream come true. I hope we get back there soon. I believe we will. I am feeling optimistic.

Here are a few pics of some parts of The Nest … I miss the magical views. Sunsets are spectacular.

‘I am watching my business fall apart’ – Can retailers survive inside Putin’s Russia?

With all the Western/American business shutting down in Russia, like McDonald’s, the thing I keep wondering: What are all the now unemployed people thinking? Surely they must be asking why are these companies all shutting down their operations. McDonald’s was a big, money making business in Russia, so why the shutdown.

I believe that the majority of Russians are brainwashed by their state controlled media. They believe Putin knows what he is doing, blah blah blah. But when hard-working people lose their jobs, en masse, all of a sudden, it must get people questioning things.

This is another effect of the sanctions. I hope it wakes all these zombies up. It is pretty clear to everyone by now that Russia = lies. This entire war is one big lie, and that out-of-date and out-of-touch nation is all one big lie. Russia truly is the evil empire. Who will ever trust Russia again?

All the people in Russia that are losing their jobs must be weary. If suddenly hundreds of companies down tools all at once, it must tell you something is not right.

Four weeks ago … BOOM !!!

It was 4 weeks ago that our building was shaking and air raid sirens were making a racquet. Feels like a lot longer than 4 weeks.

I believe Ukraine will win this war. At what cost though is everyone’s terrifying guess.

But if God forbid Putin wins the war then they will not stop at Ukraine and WW III will be inevitable. Putin can see the West’s weakness and is taking full advantage. And yes, the nuclear threat is no joke. If Russia wins this war then just nuke us now because I don’t want to live in a world like this – if Russia wins this war then humanity is in the toilet and then what is the point any more.

For those who know me, I like to make laugh, and tell stories, and I like to listen to stories and I like to laugh too. I have lived in many parts of the world and I laughed the most in Kyiv.

Here is a story that will make you laugh – I have a ton of stories and anecdotes like this.

So, about 4 years ago I get hosted at a meeting of some successful IT entrepreneurs in Kyiv. They are showing me around their super cool offices, and they are laughing for some reason. I get it all the time
Ronnie, you don’t look African?
I say, I know, but I was born in Cape Town, in South Africa. I am from Africa.
They say, But you are not black.
I say, I know … something happened. And everyone laughs for some reason.
So this IT guy says to me: Here in Ukraine there is no political correctness – you can say anything you like.
He then asks me: is the business climate in SA like Ukraine or America.
I tell him it is like America. You can’t joke about race, religion, sex , etc.
There are two lovely computer programmers sitting in a coffee area. He calls them over; everyone generally speaks English in the IT space there.
He asks the one girl: Do we have sexual harassment in offices here in Kyiv?
Her answer: NOT ENOUGH.

We all pack up laughing – it was good for the soul. In America this would have become a lawsuit within 15 minutes.

A dangerous precedent

There is one potential end to this nightmare war and that is when Russia simply implodes because of financial strain. Russia has an economy the size of Italy – they cannot afford to keep this up for too long.

Ukrainians believe they will win this war. I believe it too. The Ukrainians will fight to the death – this they have made clear and the world can see it. The painful cost of this is hard to comprehend, but they are not going to give up.

At some point, some sad and terrible point, like if Putin threatens to drop a small nuclear bomb, the West will step in. I believe that – they will grow some balls at some point.

If no one challenges Putin then this sets a very very very dangerous precedent in the world. The next madman with nukes, in say 5 to 10 years, will do the same thing: hold the world to ransom by threatening with nuclear weapons. No doubt about it. This is setting the stage for future leaders in Pakistan, India, North Korea and any nuclear power out of the Western orbit. This is seriously dangerous stuff.

Europe is dependent  on Russia  for gas, oil and wheat. Especially Germany, a key player in the EU. Putin’s daily income of hundreds of millions of dollars a day needs to stop. If this happens then Russia cannot keep on financing this mad war.

Greed has caused this mess. On all sides. And Ukraine is fighting for the whole democratic world. Please God they get more help They need it. Now.

A good case for social media, finally

I find this to be a seriously good idea. I never thought of this before. Imagine if more huge celebrities give up their social media platforms to Ukrainian heroes, to help spread the truth in the world. Highly inspired development.

I suddenly have a lot of admiration for David Beckham. We all think these celebs are so precious about their social media branding. Wow – this kind of reach could inspire positive momentum. What a brilliant idea indeed.

Imagine now if more high profile people join this idea. Talk about driving a conversation and changing minds. And the funny thing is : it will come back to Beckham in spades.

Good on him !

I reckon Ukraine is winning the information war. Never before has information been on so many platforms and been able to spread so quickly, and to so many people.