March Market Brief
Why Ukraine Matters
“Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war.” William Shakespeare, (Julius Caesar 3.1.273)
As many know, I am a Polish immigrant. I was forced to flee from Russian Communist controlled Poland in 1968. As was typical at that time, a lot of different cultures were thrown together during the Post World War II carve up of Europe. While my mother’s family is ethnically German, my father’s family, although with a Greek last name, came from the Polish-Ukrainian province of Galica the capital of which is Lviv. My family came from this Post-war melting pot in Europe and experienced Russian depredation firsthand, and I want to put in personal context why Ukraine matters.
Ukraine is the Texas of Europe. It is a border country, buffering East and West and a melting pot of various cultures. Like the Texas-Mexico border, trade, family relations and friendships had crossed the border daily back and forth between Ukraine and its bordering countries. Western Ukraine has a baroque flavor thanks to the Austro-Hungarian influence, while Odessa to the South has been strongly influenced by the Ottoman Empire. This is the land of rolling hills, golden fields of wheat, and vast mineral resources. Its resources have been coveted by many.
Vladimir Putin wants to recreate the Russian Empire and Soviet glory. He holds Stalin in high regard; the same man who murdered 3 million Ukrainians in the aftermath of the Polish Russian war of 1920. The trajectory of a leader such as Putin, or a Stalin, or a Hitler is one of mass murder of non-Russian ethnicities and the destruction of independent, democratic sovereign nations.
Beyond the economic fallout, there is a much higher cultural cost to this war. The destruction of art and centuries old buildings and artifacts is happening every day. Of equal, but different, importance is the destruction of archives of Soviet era Russia. Imagine the ability to complete erase the slave trade in the United States. This is Putin’s goal; to cleanse and brainwash the Russian populous and the world into believing Russia is the most superior nation. The victor always chooses how history is remembered. Destroying buildings, archives and records wipes out cultural identity and history of those who perished.
It is our hope that the oppressive strategies of Vladimir Putin can be overcome using technology and resources available to everyone. The internet and microchip provide a crack in the propaganda machine and show the light of truth to Russian citizens and the world. The ability to speak & show truth to power has never been more important. Never forget history, as history is repeating in front of your eyes today. Remember, every Russian military defeat in the last 125 years has led to regime change, and we hope a new, Democratic Russia may arise from the ashes of this Tolstoy-esque Russian tragedy.