A little while back I posted a question on my Facebook page—I was curious to know what my readers want to know, or would like me write about on this blog. One of my readers (thanks, Shane!) posed this question:
How do you see the impact of the Ukrainian invasion by Russia influence your writing and what thoughts do you have on the subject? Especially that this is a possible elevation to the cold war situation we had to endure for so long, it certainly has implications of Nazi Germany in 1938 seeking lebensraum. A very unsettling time for the world especially with the pandemic still in progress...
As far as how the unprovoked invasion has impacted my writing, it's not hard for me to say it's had an influence, but not what you might expect. Russia's abusive relationship with Ukraine is generations—centuries—old, and it's no secret that the have wanted to make and keep Ukraine part of their country since...well, the Vikings really. I mean, even Wikipedia says so (he writes, tongue-in-cheek).
I'm not a history teacher, I just love history and study it for fun (I write about it too, but that's another topic). As near as I can tell, a group of particularly ill-tempered, hairy-arsed vikings split off from the Scandinavian hairy-arsed vikings around 800-900 AD and settled in what is now Kyiv. They became known as the Kievan Rus. They also started the famous Varangian Guard, the Byzantine Emperor's legendary bodyguard. They spread as traders, settlers, farmers, and warriors and dominated the lands in and around modern Ukraine and eastern Russia. When the Mongols invaded and laid waste to most of Ukraine and eastern Europe, the southern Rus were pretty much cut off, and the survivors were gobbled up by the other nations nearby, namely Poland.
The northern Rus coalesced around Moscow and became—in time—the ancestors of what we think of as today's "Russians." Part of what was left of the southern Rus—known as the Cossacks—eventually rebelled against their new Polish overlords in the 1400s (or thereabouts) and were gradually absorbed into Russia, where they fit in a lot better than with the Poles...and this began a reunification process that now held Moscow as the center of power, rather than Kyiv.
Fast forward through dozens of pan-European wars and revolutions, throw in a couple World Wars, mix in one Cold War, and by the time you get to the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had at long last became its own country again. The Russians have a 1,200 year history with Ukraine and want it back, that much is clear. The Ukrainians, however, pretty much told Vlad to piss off in true Kievan Rus style, and here we are.
Impact on my writing
To be honest, the invasion hasn't had a huge impact on my writing. Honestly, I (and a lot of other people) saw this all coming and predicted in my Lost Sanctuary series (co-written with Mike Kraus) that Russia would invade Ukraine, but I didn't think they'd be so bold about it. I assumed in 6 books of the Lost Sanctuary series that they'd wait for some internal crisis (like a dust storm that cripples our power grid and plunges us into anarchy...ahem) before they made their move, secure in the knowledge that we wouldn't/couldn't do anything.
What's really impacted my writing thanks to Ukraine is the research. I have been watching, recording, reading, and learning from the experiences of the people—civilian and military—caught in the middle of this horrible conflict. I have been reading first hand accounts of the initial invasion, what people did to survive, what they faced, and how they managed to find safety and food during the shelling and assaults on civilian population centers. I've been watching videos posted from Ukrainian freedom fighters attacking modern Russian tanks (well, supposedly modern) with everything from drones to Molotov cocktails (there's some irony right there). And I've cheered the cheeky farmers dragging dead Russian tanks through the mud with tractors, proving that even civilians willing to stand up and fight can make a difference against an overwhelming enemy.
I really like the "Wolverine" tags on destroyed Russian equipment, but I have to say it gives me a chill down my spine to see it. I grew up on the original Red Dawn, not the modern remake, and man, seeing images of that graffiti hits me right in the nostalgic feels, man.
My Personal Thoughts on the Invasion
As a red-blooded, patriotic American—my family (both sides) has been on this continent generations before the United States were the United States—you could say I'm on the side of freedom. I don't like bullies. Period. And it is painfully obvious that the Russians (not the Russian people, mind you, the government) are clearly bullies in this situation. They were bullies when they annexed Ukraine as Soviets, and they're doing it again as neo-Soviets.
That said, my support only goes as far as my morals. I'm a firm believer in what George Washington said: listen here you numbskulls—avoid foreign entanglements. He may have been referring to treaties with Old World Powers, but he also knew the Europeans liked to fight each other as much as any siblings in a small house, and he knew our little fledgling country couldn't afford to get all wrapped up in who's fighting who and who killed who across the Atlantic.
I realize the world has shrunk and we no longer have the luxury of pure isolationism like before the First World War, but I cling to my principles. Russia hasn't attacked us, and we shouldn't attack them. If Russia attacked Canada or Mexico or a central American country, that's a whole other can of worms. This conflict is in Europe's lap and it's Europe that has to solve it—and Vlad knows this, which is why he's been sowing dissention and causing problems for years. A United Europe could stand up to him. England or France or Germany alone—or even all three—can't. Russia is still allegedly a superpower. There's a reason for that, just like there's a reason that England and France and Germany aren't. (Hint: it's got to do with some big nukes and lots and lots of tanks, planes, and ships...)
The interesting thing is watching this conflict unfold, it's clear to me now that Russia needs to have its superpower card revoked. Sure, it's got some nukes, but the way it's blundered around in Ukraine like a toddler throwing a tantrum and making a mess but not getting anything accomplished is really telling. I mean, we may not have been able to solidify the Middle East and put it on the track to stabilized democracy, but we sure as hell conquered places pretty damn quick...I have to think if we'd really wanted to, we would have steamrolled Ukraine without much effort.
This shows me that China, not Russia has slipped into the Number 2 spot in the global pecking oder of Big Dogs. Russia is a paper tiger with some hefty capabilities, but it's like a massive tree that's hollow on the inside and dying while still looking somehwat healthy on the outside. One good storm and down it goes. Will Ukraine be that storm? Only time will tell, but the end result of this mess is me losing a lot of respect and even fear of Russia's capabilities and abilities (and a topic for a new book and blog post...hmmmm...).
They're just not the big bad boogeyman that they were in years of my childhood during the 80s. They're not quite reduced to Yakov Smirnoff status, but they ain't Ronaldus Magnus' baba yaga either.
So how do we solve the mess the Russians have created and save Ukraine? I have no idea, I'm not a politican, just an armchair historian who likes whisky and writing stories. I do know that directly sihpping our military supplies to Ukraine, either straight to them or through backdoors in eastern Europe, is a dangerous game our potato-in-chief is playing. And since he's known for shaking hands with people that aren't there, I'm kinda scared he's going to screw something up when some of our men or women in uniform get caught on the wrong side of a line. I feel like it's only a matter of time before it happens and then...who knows.
This is why I prepare. And you should, too.
Are we looking at Nazi Germany 2.0?
Well, if you listen to Vlad, the Ukrainians are nothing but a bunch of Nazis...but seriously, I don't think so. The Nazis were masters of the lightnign strike, the blitzkrieg. This invasion by Russia feels like it was planned and executed by a bunch of drunk slugs. I mean, seriously...it's the 21st Century...who has a tank column like 10 miles long in the age of drone strikes? And yeah, I know they wanted to stick to the roads because the ground was messy but...(1) TANKS. They're like ATVs with cannons. And (2) dude, plan a little better. Hit them in the summer when you can drive your precious tanks across the ground. Because it's not like the cold weather stopped the Ukranians from fighting like rabid badgers. As well they should—every Ukrainian man, woman, and child should fight teeth and nails to the last one standing and make the Russians pay for every inch of ground they take in buckets of Russian blood.
If the Russians were really looking to expand like the Nazis 80+ years ago, they need to move a BIT faster. When neighboring countries start to get invaded or topple, then I'll start to worry. But with countries like Sweeden and Finland joining NATO, I think Russia's little tantrum will end with Ukraine, or kick off WW3, but I don't see much of a middle ground. There's really not all that many places they can attack next without triggering the NATO alliance and bringing us into the fight, causing a royal shitstorm of epic proportions.
Because, while the Russians evidently have atrophied something terrible since the Cold War, we have not. Like Genearl Patton said, Americans love to fight—we can't stand a loser. If you add up all the fatalities from every American war—starting with the Revolution through today—about half of all those 1.2+ million dead Americans came from the Civil War.
We Americans killed just as many of ourselves in 4 years of warfare as every nation we've ever fought against in 250 years. Combined.
Think about that for a second, and it should be pretty clear why no one's really picked a serious, drag-down fight with us since the Axis powers all got drunk and called down the thunder in 1941. But...Vald...Vlad might be just vodka-crazy to do it.
Time will tell. And until then, I'll keep writing—as long as you keep reading!
As always, keep your heads down and your powder dry, my friends...we live in interesting times.
: I grew up with Kiev and it still is weird to me to see it spelled Kyiv, but because I learned that the "Kiev" spelling is based on the Russian language, and the "Kyiv" spelling is based on the Ukrainian version, I'm adopting it with open arms!
: As a bonus, I also predicted that China would retake Taiwan when we're distracted. So far that hasn't happened, but I think that's because they're waiting for us to get directly involved in Ukraine and then strike. But that's another post.
: Something over 650,000 casualties from the Civil War. That is a staggering number. See: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1009819/total-us-military-fatalities-in-american-wars-1775-present/