Episode #
048

Special Edition: Direct from Ukraine with Orest Zub | TNN48

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Episode Summary

Ukraine is in the headlines all around the world. Russia has built up tens of thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border, an act of aggression that could spiral into the largest military conflict on European soil in decades. This war could lead to tens of thousands of civilian deaths, a European refugee crisis, and a response from Western allies that includes tough sanctions affecting the global economy. Orest Zub, the founder of OpenMind.ua, is in the front line when it comes to spreading the word online.

In this episode of The New Nomad, Orest joins our hosts, Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski, in educating the audience about what is really happening in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Orest talked about the history of why this gruesome event came to be and how Ukrainians are risking their lives to fight for their freedom. We all don’t know how this conflict will turn out but history is being written. It’s all up to all of us to do our part. Hope is not lost.

From the episode

Orest Zub:

Overlooked Place:

What You'll Learn

  • Ukraine, an independent state
  • Freedom is not free, you have to fight 
  • Get involved locally, not just globally

Timestamps

[5:05] Ukraine, an independent state

[12:44] History do not lie

[15:50] Freedom is not free, you have to fight for it

[19:14] A third world country with the first world people

[22:46] Hope is not lost

[31:06] Get involved locally, not just globally

Show Transcript

Allen  

Welcome to The New Nomad podcast. We have a special guest from Ukraine, Orest Zub joins us today to share not only the fact he's been to almost 130 countries maybe, but also obviously sitting in a country that is so much conversation and so many people have had questions about and maybe not completely understand. I'd also like to mention that I watched the very powerful YouTube video that he is had out there, just from a day or a couple days ago. Please go watch it. We'll obviously have more conversations on that. But before I get into deeply, I like to bring in Andrew Jernigan, my co-host today. Andrew, I know there was a lot on your mind. Ukraine is a big part of it. We'd love your overview.

Andrew  

Yeah, thanks, everyone, for joining in this week. This is a very special episode as this is, you know, when Allen and I we're talking about someone to, to bring on to put some shed some light open our eyes to what's happening and more of a historical context, but also forward-looking. I thought of no one else than Orest to bring on because he is he's in the midst of it and but yet has also lived, you know, remote working and been around the world for the past few years. So is a great truth and Nomad at heart, but also Ukrainian to bring us the depth that we need today. So I'm glad you've joined us on this episode. And yeah I really look forward to hearing what's what we have together. 

Orest  

Thanks for having me. It's also an honor to be on this podcast with both of you as our next second meeting, actually on the like, on the online space with Andrew. Allen, we have some kind of also heritage connection because our families originate from a similar part of Europe. So I will do my best to put light on some kind of maybe confusing events. And I'm pretty sure the listeners will understand things much better after we talk.

Allen  

Orest, could you share a little bit about, you know, your heritage, Ukraine, and giving some of our audience out here who does not really like I've been lucky enough. I traveled to Ukraine in 2012, for the soccer with that shared with Poland. And it was a marvellous experience. And then in 2014, things started to change, with the little green men moving in in different places. But the history of Ukraine is deep and strong. And I think it'd be great for our listeners to learn a little bit from your perspective on the history of an absolutely wonderful country.

Orest  

Well, you know, in this part of the world, the borders have been changing more often than the generations. So just to give a perspective of my grandmother since you already mentioned her. Within her lifetime, she lived without, like moving 200 kilometres from her place of birth. She lived through five different jurisdictions and countries. She were born in the interwar Poland, then this place was occupied by Nazi Germany, then it was became part of Soviet Union. Correct, then Ukrainian and then Ukraine. So basically, it's four, right four countries, but still, right?

Allen  

Well, the fact you have to count on your hand tells you the dislocation and the change there. Could you also explain to people and I get this question a lot is the Ukraine versus Ukraine the country. And I always have to explain to people that the Ukraine is a region, but your country and the resistance that we're seeing today is a great nationalist feeling. And just fan it amazes many people who don't have a deep understanding of Ukraine. 

Orest  

So I think the addition to there is more like a fanatical part, you know, from the English language. But it's very touchy topic for many Ukrainians because if somebody is using the Ukraine, it has the feeling like somebody is talking about the area or the region. Yes. And like from the Russian perspective, they even the Putin, everybody was listening to his official announcements and the articles, so he's not really treating Ukrainians as a separate nationality with their own culture. And he's considering the place where you believe you know what the sovereign state is to be them. Historical Russian territory. So many Ukrainians keep it like very personally. I encourage everybody to delete that and speak only about Ukraine as the independent state. And in addition to that, it really has really long history and culture so just briefly for you to tell, yeah? They're aware like Europe is can be like divided between three different like meta cultures which is like Germanic, Northwest Germany, England and Scandinavia and so on.  Roman, all the Latin countries and Slavic Yeah, which is like in the East. Then this of course there are in between smaller witnesses, but we're talking about the three biggest one Yeah, then the Slavs on itself. They can be like divided on other three big groups Western, Eastern and Southern. So Western, our western like tribes Western Slavic tribes were formed later into Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, southern tribes are all former Yugoslavia republics and Bulgaria and Eastern Slavic tribes originated into modern Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. However, the proto and Eastern Slavic state was was Kievan Rus like a Kiev Ruthenia, we call it and the Kiev was the major metropolis in the medieval ages. So it was like a thriving country really like trading with Byzantine in the South and the Vikings in the north, you know, the children of our kings were married to some French princess and so on. So there are a lot of connections here. But there was one big historical moment when things started to, you know, collapse. Everybody knows about the Mongol invasion in Eastern Europe. So basically, since our lands are there more like in the east of Europe, Kiev Karus was badly damaged by Mongol invasion. So basically, they devastated the Kiev of the devastated other cities in there, like around the Dnieper River around the Dnieper flow. And basically they're the centre of this culture of this like proto Eastern Slavic culture moved to the West in order to stay further from the Mongol invasion. Yes, so I am now based in Lviv, which is the largest Western Ukrainian city and which and at the moment remains absolutely safe. So on the street, it feels like a busy tourist season because there are many refugees keep coming. Transport is going according to the schedule, all the shops are open. I just had the coffee like in the coffee shop, even though 500 kilometers to the east from here, they're like terrible devastations and you everybody was seeing these pictures, right? It's doesn't come into our mind. 

So when the Mongol invasion happened, the centre of this eastern Slavic culture moved to the west, and there was like another kingdom erected of cold calling Galicia with the centre in Lviv. And since the central parts of that kingdom of the Kievan Rus was very devastated by Mongolian0. empire, some tribes moved west, which was already too cold for Mongols probably. And they're like Moscow, Suzdal, and other like smaller towns have been erected. I'm talking about 1200s. So it's like late middle ages. And only since then, like their previous kingdoms that later forms Russia started to develop itself far away in the north. They were developing their you know, trading with some Asian tribes and so on. And we guys were like developing here in the West, usually having connections with the Western European countries, while the southern Ukraine was it like a battleground for many immigrating tribes. Ottoman Empire was pushing from the south and so on. So eventually, those territories of modern Ukraine were controlled by Lithuanian kingdom and later Poland. And only after only in the middle of the 17th century. There was like a merging of the Russian force from the north. And what's important is not even Russia, they were calling like Moscow Duchi, Moscow kingdom. So once they pushed more to the south, and they became much more powerful country. In the early 18th century in 1703 their Tsar Peter The Great decided to modernize the Moscow kingdom. He founded St. Petersburg, he got access to the belt exceed and since then, like the country was powerful enough by then he decided to let's say rewrite the history to change the history. So he took the name Rosiya, claiming to be the successor of medieval Kievan Rus. And since then they were oppressing Ukrainian population in the present day borders of Ukraine for 300 years. Like there were published more than 160 different official prohibitions of using Ukrainian language in school, in public, teachers could not use this. If you speak Ukrainian, you cannot apply for the job, and so on and so forth. Okay, so, classic discrimination on the really large scale. Yeah. So later, of course, there will have been different wars, Russia became one of the world's superpowers, they got access to the Black Sea, which, which was like necessary for the country to thrive, because it was the only option to have the access to the warm winter ports, as opposed to the north, right. And then we all know the history like the First World War, second, and it goes on. So in general, if to compare, for Russian culture for Russia, Ukraine is the jewel in the imperial crown. It's like Brazil, for Portugal, it's like India, for Britain. It's like, what does France have? I forgot Kianna not really like something

Allen  

French Kiana

Orest  

Like Netherlands for like Indonesia, for Netherlands, and so on. Right. So it's really hard to, to justify that. It's not under your control anymore. And all this process that I see is nothing else as the historical way of a group of people for self-identification and to fight for their freedom. If historically, you take a look at other countries in Europe and how they have been formed, you can see that it's kind of like moving from west to east, France, Spain, Britain, they been like independent for like long time, yes, then we know that in the 1500s, Netherlands, like the Dutch people started to fight for their independence, again, the Spanish ground. Then Italian and German states were really distributed all the way up until the middle of the 19th century, after World War Two, the great empires started to collapse. And other nation states have been formed like Czech Republic, like Poland, like Slovakia, like the Baltic states. So Ukraine was kind of like lagging behind because of like, more geopolitical ways. And this is like, you cannot lie to the history that you hidden, you have just to accept it. Yeah. And what we see now is the process of national formation, because through the many centuries through many centuries, there were not enough public institutions to be formed in order to get your own independence. And not many people know, people think that Ukraine became independent only after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991. But historically, they were Ukraine population living here for thousands of years. Yes, there were different attempts, different kingdoms, all of them like really short-lived. Even after World War One there was there a unification act like with the proclamation of Ukrainian National Republic, however, there were like some conference to like put as the outcome of the First World War in Paris. And you know, there was a big lobby from other like European countries from Russia, we just lived through the Civil War and the revolution. And Ukraine was simply not represented enough and not influential enough to get our own piece of land here. So it's a process and go step by step. And even during independence, you know, when we were talking about last 30 years, we had like three revolutions, you know, we had independence in 1991. Then in 2004, there was a revolution, absolutely peaceful, because people didn't comply with the violation of elections, and eventually pro-democratic movement won. I participated. I was 16 years old. Then there was revolution of 2014. It was already a little bit bloody Yeah, there were like 200 deaths. And for Ukrainians as very peaceful people. Like we never initiated a war in the history whatsoever. This was already like unbearable. You know, before that, seeing pictures of you know, some like some riots, burning cars or crashing shops like that you have in many Western big cities, for us was the completetly wild. We could not understand how can crowd go in the street and crash cars, you know, and then when the shootings happened on the street, and within two days, 225 people were shot that that was unbearable, so the entire nation stood up and swept the government, right? And then you know, what happened their occupation of Crimea, starting war in Donbass, it was used through this, like vulnerable period of time when the government was in the transition. And now, this is getting like very, very far, very far. You know, it's like the worst was one of the worst military wars conflicts since World War Two, which is happening now, I still cannot realize that we are living in this historical period. But something what I realized is that freedom is not free, you have to fight for it. There is no revolution without a blood, as well. And I hope and I really believe that this war will eventually put a dot on The Ukrainian question. And we like, will be firmly established, no question asked on the political map of the entire world, like, that's what I see. And that's why I'm like, super committed together with other guys. I'm big traveler. I've been to over 120 countries, I visited many conflict regions. But believe me, when the war comes to your home, it's absolutely different feeling. And I was on a trip. When the war was about to start, everybody was stealing this. I took the plane and two days before the war started, I came back, I came here in order to be part of this.

Andrew  

So you said, you know, you've hit over 100 countries, I think, many more than that even right? That's yeah.

Orest  

Yeah, to be concise, 129.

Andrew  

Wow. 129. That's impressive. So you've spent quite a bit of time working. In the country of your choice, it sounds like and so to return in this time is also impressive. 

Orest

Yes, it is.

Andrew

You decided to go home and to get your family help get family to safety, it's Ukrainians are working around the world. We've known that there's such a force of engineers and so many other types that are able to work from wherever they choose. And I think everyone's rising up right now to say, No, I'm fighting for this for my country. And the world is saying what can we do to help as l I saw on your website, which will include in show notes, some links where people can contribute. And I know the sentiment is rising up saying no, let's do our part. Let's help. And so So what would you say to that? Have you ever seen anything like this war and the days of social media that we have that we've never seen to this degree? I know, Syria was one of the more recent conflicts, but we didn't have as much social media coverage. Because for some reason, when they say Middle East, a lot of people look the other way. Sadly, here we are, social media is filming it. I watched winter on fire recently, just because I wanted to be brought up to some of the more recent historical happenings in the country. You know, are you surprised by the coverage? And is it accurate? And are you seeing the sentiment? How's it affecting you, as you see the world reacting online?

Orest  

I can tell that I am impressed with the coverage. And everybody here is just so grateful for the support we have from people from all around the world. I think this is their unprecedented level on the global scale when the entire world is you as is as united as here. So what are the reasons for that? One of my friends from Australia once traveled here, and he told me like Orest you know what I think about Ukraine, this is the third world country with the first world people. So many, I believe, like private business and the intelligence of people is going click far beyond them. Institute, the public institutions that are here. Yes. And that's why Ukrainian engineers are one of the most valuable people in their like industry, globally. Also, you have you see all this talent around. We have a cyber army, like you know, the Russian public websites have been lying down for a few days. And they were like different nice campaign designs. So people got rushed to their ATMs and they couldn't get cash. It's completely impressive. So in the 21st century, the war is happening not only with bullets but also with IT, with technology, with media, with culture as well. Like there are many different fronts. But obviously, you know, Russia is such a country, such a culture that understands only brutal power. So, the guys who are on the front line, they're like, super cool, they're superheroes. And the way that in the 21st century, when the value of human life is already skyrocket high, the fact that people still go on the frontline that they send their families, their children and wives abroad in a safe place, take a rifle and go to the frontline is unbelievable. For example, in every city in Ukraine, now, it's impossible to apply to the self-defense units, they're booked, like, the government cannot protest it, they tell you like go do something else. We cannot process so many people. And Ukraine is a huge country 44 million population. So it's just a third of the Russian population, but much more on a densely populated area. So there is simply no way they can go through.

Allen  

So I mean, first off, that's very encouraging. The real question it was very powerful watching your video. I know your sisters and your mom have I believe moved into Poland that for us, the outside obviously there's a lot of people assembling packages, giving funds, etc. What can we do to help get this message out support the Ukrainian people? And obviously love you to share all to where people can find your updates. Because I learned more watching your video just the other day than watching CNN. Because I got the feeling from ground level what you go through got to walk in your shoes.

Orest  

First of all, you already guys did a lot. I cannot emphasize how many messages I received from all around the world. It with a different scale of support starting from you know painting some Trident which is Ukrainian coat of arms, and all the way until like sending thousands of dollars to equip ourselves to fill units with the modern armor. Yeah. So you will provide a link below this episode, and people can go follow and choose, one of the ways will be definitely to learn more about Ukraine to understand this better. Yes. And one of them my missions, when I started this was to when the war started, I thought to myself, Okay, like what I can do in order to use my superpowers, and in order to be the most effective in this resistance. So I decided to completely reorganize my Digital Marketing Company, which was targeting mostly Ukrainian clients before into global market. Yes. Because those things that I know how to do, our team was well organized for that. And now we are publishing materials, in terms of like social media publications, blogging, YouTube, and we will develop this is just like not even two weeks passed since then. Yeah. And what they also do is that I am not trying to compete with the huge media, I am documenting, everything that happens from my own perspective. And I want this to be the archive that people will study in the following generations. So I think at the moment also, I'm like feeling that is working well. I'm experimenting, I already see some results, even the fact that you guys approached, and we have this conversation, this is one of the means of spreading the word that I'm doing. Yes. So the next level is I will be in touch with people who sit in other cities around Ukraine, you know, I have some friends who are living in the underground bunkers to already almost two weeks, and they feel shelling, there in 21st century. So if they will be able to document this and to show to the world what was really happening when the war is finished and when there will be like trials, human rights trials, I believe there will be a noun like it will be recognition of this event now will be recognized as a genocide, I think so. All these public institutions will have a much clearer picture, because the media cannot transition that they always show some super highlights and keep turning them many, many times you know so that's my job guys. Please follow the links below. Subscribe. Learn, establish contact. I am super grateful, super open. I'm sleeping three hours a day since last two weeks, like I never been so motivated, so on fire as I am now.

Andrew  

Wow, thank you. It's really good to have you on. And we will be sharing those links for Open Mind, your site and the resources that you have there will be available to everyone. I do hope you'll get involved and follow on social media get involved every way you can. As he provides good options for that is follow on YouTube, these links will be provided. Just scroll on down, and you'll see them. So everyone we hope that things changed drastically for the better. Before this even goes live in the days ahead. But do everything you can to assist. Allen, let's see I know you've you're reflecting on this because you've been there and you've I haven't yet it's on one of my list to go now especially and I know that many people are even going to saying they want to go to help rebuild. And others are saying it's on my list. It wasn't there previously to go work from there. But you know, they want to help rebuild the tourism infrastructure. You've been there. As you hear some of these things. What are your takeaways and reflections?

Allen  

I'll mention this. I spent the week in Kiev, and wonderful people, the food was tremendous. We had great customers and people such a great work environment, the visit, I visited the American school there and got to see that. I think once this ends, we should all try to travel because the influx of funds and support for Ukrainian people will be tremendous. I didn't get to where Orest is because I was in Kiev. I wish we had a big opportunity to see more. But I got back from that trip. And I said to many people that they are one of the greatest cities in the world. You know, everybody thinks about London, Paris, New York. Kiev is one of those absolutely amazing cities. And I'll even mentioned you know, on that same trip, I also got to visit Krakow in Poland, which was another overlooked wonderful city. And the important thing is to support people not only with your funds but your ideas. And, you know, I think there's a lot with morale here too, which is you want people to know that they're supported. And I will leave one thing and Orest, there's one last question. The when I was in Kiev, the thing that surprised me the most was that motherland statue, for a lot of different reasons. You know, as in the United States, we have the Statue of Liberty, which means for something, I looked at the Motherland statue in a different completely different way. And talking to Ukrainian, it, you know, there's amazing things to see, but they mean different things. In our overlook segment. I thought that that statue was incredible, but for a different reason. Would you care to comment on some of the unique places that people could perhaps visit when this ends? 

Orest  

So I can tell you like this, at the moment, you can absolutely normal visiting my city Lviv. Since the start of the war, there have been no bombings. The city is functioning properly the public transport and if you think of the most similar town in Europe, you mentioned Krakow, so Lviv and  Krakow, they're like practically identical in terms of architecture, local culture, the size up to 1 million and so on, even though it sounds wild now, but just imagine that people are visiting Hong Kong in China, while on the opposite side of the country. There are concentration camps for Uyghurs people, right and there are many places like this all around the world. So if you want to go now welcome to Lviv there are my contacts is as safe as it could be. Because the main battles are happening 400 miles east from here in Kiev. Kiev is badly damaged. Some of the areas like the western suburbs are completely flattened. Even if you go further east Harkey a very bad situation in my city we receive now Like the city processed already, like over a million refugees just within a week. So it's incomparable demographic movement, but we are keeping up and I was walking on the street, having coffee downstairs is packed like there are so many people around, they do your business and then they continue to some other countries or they found the shelter here. Every morning I go to the cafe where all the like diplomats and journalists show up to discuss everything would happen through the last night. So it's very, very interesting feeling. It feels like this is the hub during like turbulence war times, you know, and because there is such a large presence of international attention and international people around, it's safe here. Obviously, things can change very fast. Yes. And everybody should watch and understand what's happening. We hope to this place to stay same beautiful like the city downtown is the UNESCO World Heritage like the entire huge area. Yeah. When this mess is finished, and we hope it to finish very well. And everybody is determined for our victory for restoring our borders all the way from 2014. I invite you guys, first of all, we will have a huge party. Like you cannot even imagine how big party it will be. Yeah. Kiew obviously, yes. That Harkey should be rebuilt. And Crimea is a gem like it's their Peninsula in there, like with the Mediterranean type of feel geography, if you look like seen different, like Hellenistic movies from the Odyssey, and so one, like Crimea is actually the island of Cyclops, just for you to know. Yeah, so the southern coast. Odessa has amazing beaches. And there are just like so many things to see, Carpathian Mountains, just south of who Lviv one hour drive, you will be amazed about what Ukraine has to offer. Because just remember that this is the largest European country by land area is almost twice the size of Germany. So there are many things to see.

Andrew  

So as I think about that, I think about all these companies that are pulling out of Russia, and I think when they go back to reinvest, there's some great reasons to open new stores. 

Orest

Absolutely. 

Andrew

To, to come into to say okay, instead of opening up those instead of going back there we can establish new cities that they didn't previously had to have operations. And so we have a time to rebuild, we have a time to, to unite with people that we previously hadn't been even aware of, for many people. This is the time to reconsider what freedom looks like and what unity looks like. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Let's get involved, not just in global politics, get involved in your local politics and take this chance to say get out and vote. In many countries, it's required in other countries where it's optional, you have such low numbers of participation. Get out and make a difference in your country. Stand up for what you think is right and volunteer. This is the time to be reminded of the importance of standing up against those who are not fighting for justice and making a difference ourselves, not just for our neighbour, but for those across the world. Thank you all for joining us today. And come again for the next episode. We have amazing guests week after week on The New Nomad.

Special Edition: Direct from Ukraine with Orest Zub | TNN48

About the Guest

Orest Zub

Orest Zub is a true digital nomad, having visited 128 countries. He also happens to be an Estonian e-resident and entrepreneur. With the help of his new digital homeland, Orest is expanding the boundaries of his business, using his experiences from travel to guide him and his followers on the path of personal development. He shares his travel stories and writes a bit of motivational philosophy on his blog site, OpenMind.com.ua.