The Visit Ukraine tourism board is pushing a new slogan as the nation prepares to be invaded by Russia: “Keep calm and visit Ukraine.”
Their position is there’s “no reason to panic” because “situation on the Ukrainian border remains under control.”
“There is too little positive news in the information space today,” explains the press release, which exhorts people to visit “majestic Kyiv, sleepless Kharkiv, fragrant Lviv, cozy Chernivtsi, exciting Odesa, mighty Zaporizhzhia, amazing Kherson.” … “The country is open and safe for tourists,” the statement concludes.
…”We had fewer tourists this month, one and a half times less clients than usual,” said Maryna, a worker at a Cherynobyl tour agency.
The Crimean military buildup is substantively different than in the past. A vast majority of the Russian battalion tactical groups have been moved. That includes air defense, tanks, artillery, mine sweepers, and massive logistics. And then there’s this:
If it’s a bluff, then hands off to the Russians for making sure they get every tiny detail right. https://t.co/wd2hZLrvru
— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) January 28, 2022
The U.S. is sending troops to the region. But rather than deterring Putin, that could force his hand into military action. Power appears to be his goal, and deterrence is loss of power. His goal isn’t simply to extend the period of his rule.
This kind of buildup can’t be maintained indefinitely – it’s use it or back down. And it doesn’t seem like Putin put it out there expecting to back down, merely to extract concessions. Instead Russian demands seem precisely meant to be impossible to meet, and to create a narrative arond which they had no choice but to attack.
Higher energy prices put Russia on an economic footing to prosecute this, and mean sanctions will hurt less, plus they’ve already been under sanction and Europe won’t go along with oil and gas sanctions. Though the U.S. has paid attention, Russia is no longer a top imperative. And they can stop NATO expansion in the region with a successful attack, such that no neighbors would consider positioning NATO weapons in their countries either. Putin is almost 70 and may not have another window as good as this.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in Ukraine. I don’t see Putin invading the Western part of the country, crossing the Dnieper and taking the whole thing, but my point is simply that there’s more risk than we have seen of military conflict. Airlines are avoiding Ukraine airspace.
The US FAA and Europe’s EASA have NOTAMs in place for parts of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Some of this has been in place since 204 when conflict between Ukraine and Russia when Russian-backed forced shot down Malaysia Airlines MH17. And that doesn’t even account for the reasons to avoid Belarus airspace.
Seems like a great time to visit! Only one in six Americans can find Ukraine on a map at all. My advice if the new campaign lures you in, learn not jus where the country is, but places within it. Consider limiting yourself to Lyiv (which can be accessed directly by air from much of Europe) or Ivano-Frankivsk in the West. A trip to Kharkiv or even Odessa seems… inadvisable.