The Cold War – Redux (Duplicity). Ukraine – Part 1.

The Cold War – Redux (Duplicity). Ukraine Part 1.

I have recently written the first of two novels in my latest Apocalyptic series, ‘Force Majeure – Purgatory’ and ‘Force Majeure – Paralysis’. The third in the series will be out mid next year. Prior to these two books, I wrote a Cold War trilogy, The Red Effect, The Black Effect and The Blue Effect, portraying what I believe could have happened in the 1980’s, had the Soviets, and the Warsaw Pact, taken the decision to attack West Germany and plunged the world into a third world war.

I now ask myself the question, are we heading down that very route now? To answer that, I am in the process of writing the first book in a new Cold War trilogy, or the ‘Cool War’ as it is sometimes referred to. The first draft title is ‘The Cold War – Redux (Duplicity)’.

Where does my story start? I felt the only way to find the answer to that was to go to the very melting pot that could turn the Cool War, into a Hot War, the Ukraine. I have made two trips so far, and the next 12 Posts will relate my experiences while there.

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The flag of Ukraine is a banner of two equally sized horizontal bands of blue and yellow. As a national flag, it was used officially from 1848, since the Spring of Nations when it was hoisted over the Lviv Rathaus. It was officially adopted as a state flag in 1918, by the West Ukrainian People’s Republic. But when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, the flag was outlawed and anyone hoisting the blue-yellow flag in the Soviet Ukraine, would be persecuted as a criminal. It was officially restored in 1992, following Ukraine’s Independence.

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Boryspil International Airport, Kiev. Situated 29 kilometres east of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, it is the country’s largest airport. It is one of two passenger airports that serve Kiev, the second one, Zhulyany Airport, is closer to the city, but much smaller.

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The view of the side of the airport, seen from one of the cafes inside.

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Once settled in my hotel, after changing my dollars for Ukrainian currency, Hryvna, in a linen shop, yes a linen shop, I headed for Independence Square. There are some impressive buildings in the city and I will show more of them as my Posts progress.

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The view from Khreshchatyk of the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square. It is the central square of Kiev.

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It is often referred to as just, Maidan, ‘square’.

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The square was given its current name after Ukraine’s independence in 1991. Following the end of the Soviet era, the Maidan has since become a focal point for public political activity. The square, along with the Stadium and Parliament buildings, was one of the sites of the Euromaidan protests that started in November 2014.

Initially swinging towards an association with Western Europe, the President at that time, Viktor Yanukovych, had a change of heart and suspended preparations for the Implementation of an association agreement with the European Union. Whether as a consequence of a desire to remain a part of the Eurasian Union, advocated by President Putin, or because of the rising debt as a consequence of the Russian Federation hiking up the prices of gas, and additional pressure from the Russian Federation itself, no one truly knows.

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Independence Monument, the victory column, located on Independence Square, commemorates the Independence of Ukraine. It is 61 metres in height.

The provision of Gas to Ukraine, provided President Putin with a real stranglehold on the country. In December 2013, he promised to reduce Gas prices by 30%. Around about that time, Ukraine probably owed somewhere in the region of over $4 billion in debt to Gazprom. Putin also promised to help fund the debt ridden country. This all changed after the uprisings and Yanukovych fleeing the country, and in June 2014, gas supplies to Ukraine were cutoff. It was only restarted after trilateral talks between between the European Union, Ukraine and Russia, when it was agreed that the European Union would act as guarantor for Ukraine’s gas purchases.

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The monument is a column with a figurine of a woman, Berehynia (female spirit), on top. The statue is made of cast bronze and weighs about 20 tons.

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The view opposite the statue. The glass jars/bottles have been placed on the ground to represent the shape of the Coat of Arms of Ukraine.

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Each has a small candle inside.

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During the riots in Kiev, that started in late November 2013, things looked very different then. I will cover more of this during my next few posts before I travel further south. The Trade Union building can be seen in the background on the

far right.

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Trade Union Building, Independence Square, in flames. The building was used as an Opposition Base during the Euromaiden riots

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This is a photograph of the Trade Union building taken this year, 2015, in the preceding photograph you can see the true effects of the fire.

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There are many stands in Independence Square communicating their own view about the events at the Maiden.

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There were a number of individuals collecting money for the hospitals, who are treating and caring for the Ukrainian Army soldiers, or soldiers from the Volunteer Battalions, who gave up their time, and lives in some cases, for the defence of the Donbass region as they battled against the pro-Russian separatists.

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Independence Square.

The sign on the old Gaz says, ‘they are collecting for humanitarian and financial aid for battalion “Donbass-Ukraine.”

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Independence Square is also a place for speeches, party political meetings and when closed off on a Sunday, for friends and families to just have fun.

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But the Ukrainian Parliament is still wary of any event occurring in the square, as a consequence of previous events in the city. I couldn’t identify a police presence at all, so decided to look around the outskirts of the city and came across a bus parked up not far from the entrance to the Kiev Dynamo stadium. It would only take a five minute drive to reach the Maiden.

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The riot police seemed fairly relaxed, and didn’t appear to be anticipating trouble. But they were there all the same.

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Again, during the period of heavy rioting, the scene were very different, the riot police had their hands full in quelling the troubles. The people of Ukraine, and in this case those living in and around Kiev, were adamant that they favoured a relationship with the West, rather that the Russian Federation.  The Russian Federation was proposing the creation of the Eurasian Union, the old Soviet Union under a different mantle?

I remember the violence of the riots in Belfast during the 80s. Being a part of a ‘Snatch Squad’ on a number of occasions. When you see some of the clips of the riots in Kiev during the height of the troubles, it will bring back lots of frightening memories for British soldiers who served in NI at that time.

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Belfast, Northern Ireland in the early eighties.

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Where civilians were killed during the riots, and there were many, the shapes of their fallen bodies have been painted where they fell, in remembrance of those horrific times.

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This the view along Threshchatyk Vulyysya, looking back towards Independence Square, as I continue my journey. I now head towards the Lobanovsky Dynamo stadium and the government buildings. The scene of even more violence in the Ukrainian people’s attempt to secure Independence for a second or third time in their history.

It was, and is still, a very complicated situation in Ukraine. So, if some of my information is incorrect, then please flag it up and I can amend the content. Thank you for reading this first Post.

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Site and content, including photographs, is copyrighted to Harvey Black.

 

4 Comments

    1. I agree Anneli. These are worrying times, perhaps even more so than the old Cold War. They refer to the current one as ‘The Cool War’, although it doesn’t feel very cool at the moment.

      1. Seems like there are so many places that are not safe to travel to (as a tourist). Hotbeds of tension and wars everywhere. Lots of fodder for your books though.

  1. Hi Anneli. That is why I went to Kiev, Zaporizhzhya and Mariupol, so I could see for myself. The first trip was quite scary, travelling nearly a thousand kilometres to Mariupol, where the pro-Russian separatists are merely a few kilometres away. Research is incredibly important to me if I am to maintain a sense of realism in my novels. More to come…. 🙂

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