As He Walked Out One Early Spring Morning. My goodness do I admire the solidarity of those who are heading to Ukraine to volunteer.
I dream of a Once and Future Village for a truly sustainable, fully localised economy. I curse the arms race that is the tech escalation. But some things never change. Humanity is one. Compassion is another. Community spirit another. And makership, and the respect between craftspeople…
Two years ago I sourced a beautiful leather watch cuff handmade by Sergej in Ukraine. A year later he made me another one to order as a gift for my stepfather. They are favourite articles of clothing that we will treasure for decades.
‘Naturally’ Sergej and I conducted our transaction online, but our written exchange was collegiate. As with most people I ever ‘meet’, I wish we were all in the same local village to get to know and trade with and support each other sustainably. But, hearteningly, some of this at least is possible even at a distance.
Sergej and his family live in SW Ukraine. I just sent him a message via Etsy to ask if there was anything he needs. I had a romantic notion to pack up some woollens to send for him and family, friends or neighbours, or otherwise to fundraise if they need money. He says there’s nothing he needs right now, and anyway the roads are destroyed so there’s no postal service. His shop is shut because he’s in a warzone. But his spirit is strong. Here is his testimony (warning: graphic violence).
Nikolaev, March 1st.
‘Thank you very much for your support. My family doesn’t need anything. I have my own house, we gathered our children and during the shelling we hide in our basement. Fascist Russia, as you had in 1939-1940. Rocket attacks, tanks, bombs, dead and wounded, including small children (for example, in Poland). We ourselves help the soldiers and our wounded people. Our post office is not working yet and part of the roads are destroyed. But you can find volunteer organizations in Poland. There are many of our refugees with small children. Thanks again to you and all countries for solidarity. Together we will win.
‘Your country’s help in the war with Russia is enormous. You handed over to our army anti-tank grenade launchers that saved the lives of thousands of our people. We live in the city of Nikolaev. Last night 6 tanks broke into the city center and our guys quickly destroyed them. And on the outskirts of the city they burned another 30 tanks. And so throughout the country. We have Russian planes bombing cities and villages every day. This is very similar to the struggle of your heroic country in the fight against Hitler. It is a great honor for us that our guys will fight next to your guys against modern Hitler. He brought 5 nuclear missiles to Belarus and demands lift the sanctions, blackmailing the entire Western civilized world. Do not be afraid of him. He is a deceiver and a coward like his entire fake army. This war must be brought to an end or it will go further. He has already stated that his next targets are Poland, the Baltic countries, Finland and Moldova.
‘And yes please share our information. My wife and I have been corresponding with the whole world all these days, people should know the real face of Russian fascism. Yesterday, when negotiations were going on in Belarus, Russia used cluster bombs in the city of Kharkov in a residential area. People went to the store. 11 people died, 100 people were injured. An elderly woman’s leg was torn off. The main directions of the strike for the Russians are our city, Odessa, Mariupol, Kyiv and Kharkov. The city of Kherson is located between our city and Crimea. It is constantly bombed, local residents began to be taken hostage. All these days, tank columns are moving in our direction, which our soldiers are destroying (with British grenade launchers). Now the Russians have deceived people, put them on buses and want to take them in front of them. Last night, a column of tanks came out in our direction. set fire to dry reeds. There was fire on the tanks and our soldiers shot them. There are no “operations” that Putin came up with in his sick head. This is an attempt to destroy Ukraine, this is genocide in the 21st century.
‘We have no fear, we help the army. People in the villages take to the roads and do not let the tanks go further. The police, the civil territorial defense and ordinary people work together. And together with the whole world.
Putin, some of your concerns are surely legitimate, but Putin, you have gone too far: you harm your cause as much as you harm everyone else. Putin, please stop.