Monday, May 23, 2022
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Ukraine: Letter from the Slovakian border

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TCW has received this email from Slovakia, which lies to the west of Ukraine.


WHEN I found out about invasion to Ukraine I immediately offered my help to house a young family fleeing Ukraine. Free of charge, of course, for as long as it takes. Living in Western part of Slovakia I have also decided to drive to the border with Ukraine which is on the east. I have never been there so I thought when if not now. The point was to pick a young family right from the border and drive them to my house.

Apparently I was not the only one thinking that way. There are a couple of thousands of Ukrainians already living in Slovakia so they were of course there to pick up their loved ones, friends and relatives. There were also other volunteers like myself as well as buses ready to pick up the refugees from Ukraine. On Friday the supply of offered help far exceeded demand and it looked like I would be driving back home alone as no one needed my help. The really funny thing was to see a couple of our soldiers who were the only ones wearing masks on the Ukraine border. Yeah, what a deterrent to Russians. Our whole Slovak military is a joke. We have, as far as I know, one fighter jet which I doubt can even take off. Why would it? It is an old Russian MiG and without Russian spare parts it is not much of a use. We cannot really fight on our own anybody, certainly not Russians. Luckily apart from Ukraine with its Russian tanks to the east there is nobody else to fight since our other neighbours are other Nato countries – Czechia, Poland, Hungary – and neutral Austria.

Anyway, coming back to my point, when it looked like that nobody needs anything from me, one young lady showed up and it turned out that she was going to Nitra which is the town in western Slovakia where I live. So of course I offered to give her a ride. Her name is Anna, 23, she is from Dnepropetrovsk, which is a city in Eastern Ukraine and she is an ethnic Russian. It has become soon apparent that our communication means will have to be Russian, since Anna speaks only very little English. I am an old school and I had to study Russian at school what it seems like a thousand years ago. It was kind of strange since I thought I would never ever utter a Russian word in my life. Then I realised that what is going in Ukraine right now is not the fault of the Russian language.

Anna was pretty relaxed even though she has never been in her life outside Ukraine before. And of course she had no idea who I was and there are certainly not only good people in this world. She was a great company and during that five-hour drive I learnt many interesting things. It turned out that her boyfriend – who is also Ukrainian – is already in Nitra and works in a recently constructed Jaguar plant. I wondered why he did not show up to pick her up from the border. It turned out he was at work. Sure enough, Ukrainians take it quite easy. The idea was, what the hell, once you are in Slovakia, take a bus, a train, whatever, and get to Nitra. The difficult part of her journey was behind her, getting to Nitra somehow was not an issue. Anna managed to get a ride.

That was Friday. Things change quickly. There are thousands of Ukrainians fleeing but I am more than happy to say that Slovakia is willing and ready to help tens of thousands of them. This is the only fight we can fight on our own with Putin – we can and we will provide humanitarian help. My little own with Putin is that I turned out gas heating in my house. I am not paying Putin a cent for his gas. Luckily spring is coming and I can learn to take shower in a cold water.

That is my little bit in my fight. Actually I will have to turn it back on later today as a charity I am in contact with is sending me a mother with kids. They are supposed to cross the border to Slovakia in the next hours. And I do not want to welcome them with no hot water.

Which reminds me of the decadent West. Young Ukrainians are fighting and dying in Ukraine and all I am concerned with is hot water. They are fighting also for us. I am ashamed. We need to help them with boots on the ground. Yes, Putin has nuclear weapons. We know that since the WWII. And we know he will use them if he is hit with a nuclear weapon. But so is the West. And it is not going to be West who strikes first. And if Putin strikes first, it is his call. But the West should not be in a position to be intimidated by his threat of using them. Because if he gets away with it this time, there is no reason why he should not do it again. And again. As the history teaches us time and again. So come on, West. Wake up. Send your jets to Eastern Slovakia as well as other countries on the east. Our rusty MiG fighter jet might even join you. If it as able to take off, of course.

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Ivan Pupak
Ivan Pupak
Ivan Pupak is a Slovak national whose life mission is to make Slovak little more simple to learn for foreigners and get rid of some of its completely useless grammar rules (that drive both foreign and native students of Slovak crazy!)

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