Ukraine Launches New Tourism Campaign As It Prepares For Invasion By Russia: Keep Calm And Visit!

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:

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I would have no trouble traveling to Kiev at the moment (a relatively short hop from LHR) were it not so damned cold there. It’s not going to get above freezing all week and it’s snowing.
    As a desert dweller, maybe I will go later in the year. Poland and Hungary first, though.

  2. @Woofie: Great choices! Enjoy my home country Hungary! You will have a great time there for sure!

  3. If you are planning on visiting Kiev now, bring some long boots. Visiting Kiev in the winter is just like going to Washington, D.C. in the winter. Their municipal snow removal plan motto is: “watch it melt”!

  4. For the next weekend (Fe. 4-6) Hilton Kiev is 217 Euro/night and they list executive rooms with lounge access for sale. The lounge must be open then.

  5. I’d go, but then I did a bus trip to northern Haiti a few years ago. (And many years ago walked from Iran to Iraq.) Actually though this campaign reminds me of a man I knew who at the height of the troubles had the Northern Ireland tourism account. He didn’t appreciate my asking if he was going after the hot market to visit North Korea.

    Regarding going west of the Dnieper, I don’t know more than any other armchair general, but it seems like an invasion from Belarus would go into that area, but Putin would probably be happy to withdraw across the river once a “peace treaty” is signed. The people are more Russian speaking to the east. Another factor here, which no one except one of my students who knows the area has discussed, is that the Ukraine is cutting off water supplies to the Crimea. Putin wants control of that area around the Sea of Azov.

    If there is a war my guess is that it will start either near or just after the end of the Olympics on the 20th. Putin does not want to embarrass the Chinese but it also would be easier to do when Russia has the rotating chair of the Security Council, which by bad luck happens to be all of February. So that leaves 1-2 weeks as a good window. Anyway, waiting into late March raises the possibility of a mud season. This would make it much harder for his vehicles to traverse the countryside, as the Germans found out.

  6. Where are the usual critics demanding Putin take his dispute to the UN and get permission from the Security Council before attacking?

    Oh, right. Those rules only apply to one side…

  7. @Daniel B: @Daniel B: I can’t find főzelék for dinner or even kürtőskalács for dessert in Ann Arbor, Michigan. However, I can fly DTW to BUD tomorrow on American Airlines for 22,500 AAdvantage miles plus $28.20 in fees and dine in style.

  8. @Ken A
    Oh, the kürtőskalács…..
    42 years ago my now wife bought me one on our first date…..
    As for the főzelék, unfortunately we had that every third day at the school cafeteria so as an adult, I have been avoiding it.
    Enjoy Hungary!

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