Every war brings surprises, but the most striking thing about Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine — and indirectly against the entire democratic West — is how many of the bad surprises have been for Putin so far and how many of the good surprises have been for Ukraine. and its allies around the world.

How so? Well, I’m pretty sure when Putin was plotting this war, he assumed that by three weeks he would deliver a victory speech in the Ukrainian parliament, welcoming him into the womb of Mother Russia. He probably also assumed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would be in exile in a Polish Airbnb, Russian troops would still remove all flowers thrown from their tanks by Ukrainians, and Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping would give each other a high. -five for After showing NATO and Sleepy Joe who will set the rules of the international system in the future.

Instead, Ukrainians have given the Russians a tutorial on fighting and dying for freedom and self-determination. Putin appears to be locked in his own germ-free isolation room, probably worried that a Russian military officer who comes close will pull a gun on him. Zelenskyy will address the US Congress virtually. And instead of globalization being over, individuals around the world are using global networks to monitor and influence the war in totally unexpected ways. With a few clicks they send money to support Ukrainians and with a few more keystrokes they tell everyone from McDonald’s to Goldman Sachs to withdraw from Russia until the Russian soldiers withdraw from Ukraine.


Here’s another surprise that few saw coming – especially China and Russia. China relied on its own vaccines to fight COVID-19, along with a zero-tolerance and immediate quarantine policy to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, the Chinese vaccines seem less effective than other COVID vaccines. And because China has little immunity to previous infections due to its quarantine strategy, the virus is now spreading there like wildfire. As The New York Times reported Tuesday, “Tens of millions of residents of Chinese provinces and cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, have been locked up amid an outbreak of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Travel between cities has been cut off, production lines have been shut down and shopping centers have been closed.”

What does that do? It is killing demand and depressing the price of crude oil – which, after approaching $130 a barrel due to the war in Ukraine, fell below $100 on Tuesday. And what country desperately needs high oil prices because it has so little else to sell to the world to fund its war? Putin’s Russia. So China’s COVID strategy is hampering Putin’s oil price strategy — probably hurting him as much as anything the US does. We are all much more connected than we might think.

Now that we have passed the opening stages of this war, the surprises keep coming. For me, the three greatest are the extraordinary acts of cruelty, courage and kindness that this war reveals and inspires.

I have never been under the illusion that once Putin launched this war, he would do nothing to ensure that he could claim to be the ‘winner’. Nevertheless, it is astonishing to see how quickly he has tied himself up. In the span of three weeks, Putin has gone from saying he came to liberate Ukraine from his “Nazi” leadership and return Kiev to its natural home with Russia, to crushing its cities and shooting its citizens indiscriminately to support their resistance. to break against his will. †

How does a leader of one day say that Ukraine and its people are an integral part of the soul and fabric of Russia – with shared languages, culture and religion – only to turn, when rejected, immediately towards changing the place in ruins without any explanation to the Ukrainians , the world or his own people?

It’s the kind of cruel madness you see in a rejected lover or in an “honor killing.” And it is shocking and frightening to see it manifested by the leader of a superpower with some 6,000 nuclear warheads. There is something about this man that portends more ominous surprises.

I am always amazed at the courage that seemingly average people display in wars – in this case not only by Ukrainians but also by Russians who refuse to buy Putin’s lies, knowing that he is making them a pariah nation. So I marvel at the breathtaking courage displayed Monday night by Marina Ovsyannikova, an employee of Russia’s Channel 1, a state-run television channel, who burst into a live broadcast of Russia’s most-watched news show, shouting, “Stop the war !” and held up a sign behind the host that read, “They’re lying to you here.” She was interrogated and provisionally released – probably because Putin feared making her a martyr.

Marina Ovsyannikova – remember her name. She dared to tell the Tsar that he had no clothes. What courage.

And finally, wars also reveal extraordinary acts of kindness. Into this war, some came spontaneously and by using a platform in ways no one expected: room sharing site Airbnb. Airbnb executives say they actually woke up in early March to find that members of their community were spontaneously using their platform in a new, novel way, transforming booking technology into a homemade, people-to-people, foreign aid system.

According to the company, people from 165 countries have booked more than 430,000 nights in Ukrainian homes on Airbnb in the past two weeks with no intention of using the rooms, but simply to donate money to these Ukrainian hosts, most of whom have never been to. had heard of. Airbnb has temporarily waived all guest and host fees for bookings in Ukraine, so those reservations translated into $17 million going straight to the hosts. Guests from the US, UK and Canada are the biggest bookers. Australia, Germany and several other European countries round out the top 10.

In addition, as of Sunday, about 36,000 people from 160 countries have signed up through Airbnb’s nonprofit organization, Airbnb.org, to welcome refugees fleeing Ukraine into their homes.

It’s impossible that the massive US Agency for International Development, USAID, could have such an impact so quickly.

Many of the Ukrainian hosts who have received these booking donations have written back to the donors, forging new friendships and enabling foreigners to understand the impact of this war much better. There’s nothing like communicating in person with someone in Ukraine hiding in the basement while explaining why you like to rent that basement but never use it. It creates a community of kindness that Putin’s tanks alone cannot defeat, but it can support those who are determined to oppose them by reminding them that they are not alone – Putin is.

I don’t find all this surprising. I’ve always argued that globalization isn’t just about trade. It is about the ability of countries, companies and now, increasingly, individuals to connect and trade globally. People are determined to want to connect, and today’s hardwired world makes it easier and cheaper for them to do so every day.

That said, what makes the pleasant surprises in this war so surprising is that they were surprises for the people responsible for it. Just one warning though. There will be more surprises – and not all of them will be equally pleasant.

(Images are personal)


This post Russia-Ukraine War: View: A war of surprises in Ukraine, both tragic and inspiring was original published at “https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/view-a-war-of-surprises-in-ukraine-both-tragic-and-inspiring/articleshow/90256604.cms”

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