Yesterday, I left my village in Romania and came back to Copenhagen after two months of working remotely. Just another normal time when my mom with tears in her eyes still says ‘goodbye’, hugs me and my dad takes me to the bus station.
On the road, I told my dad that leaving this time feels different; that I feel a bit older, more mature probably; I know to some extent what I want to do in the future.
We arrived at the bus station, and I had 15 more minutes to wait for the bus, so I took out my phone. You probably know what I saw.
“He actually did it, he invaded!” I told my dad.
He was like… “Who, what?”
“Putin! Ukraine is being bombed now!” I said.
We both sat there for 30 seconds, blank, and could not realise nor fully comprehend what had happened. Then he told me:
“OK! It’s good you’re leaving now. I’ve actually been thinking about this for the past few weeks.” Then he smiled. For context, my parents were both against me leaving Romania three years ago, yet my father stood there smiling, happy that his kid was going away from this part of the world at that time.
“Where are you going?” asked the bus driver.
“Budapest Airport and probably as far as I can get from Russia now..,” I said.
He replied: “F*&k this s$%t!”
All three of us laughed insecurely and then my dad and I were left shaking hands and hugging like never before with a sort of sour happiness. I got on the bus and remained baffled until I got out of the bus again and onto the plane. I was texting with Romanian friends all over Europe and called my mother.
“If the plane is cancelled, just come home!” she said.
For Romania, and I would be bold and say, for Eastern European countries of the EU even, Russia, was never a friend. You can see how personal we make it from my sentence here. Russia is almost a real person. We have personalised this word, it is not just a concept anymore.
Of course, I do not mean the Russian people here, don’t get me wrong. Moreover, Romania was under a communist regime before ’89, and still did not see Russia as a friend but rather kept its distance. So now you can see and better understand the context in the region.
Refreshing news page updates was the main thing I did, not that it helped, no, but you get curious about what is happening and what will come next. It feels like a new update might bring some sort of peace and calmness if it’s a peaceful one. I have definitely understood what they mean by ‘escalation’ now, as there were no calm updates.
Romania and probably most of the Eastern European NATO members will now get more NATO troops and once again, we will realise the fragile nature of the peace we have taken for granted. Please don’t get me wrong. Romania is far from being in chaos now, things are all good in Romania, but we are just closer to the border and some of the bomb sites. However, refugees from across the border have started coming and it feels like the Eastern European countries that are members of the European Union are open to them.
But this post is not about me nor Romania, it’s about the Ukrainian people and we should remember that peace, even in Europe, is not something we should take for granted. I texted some Ukrainian friends, who do not want their identities disclosed, and you can see some replies in the screenshot below. I don’t think this is something we understand in the West and we probably never will.
My friend told me to let you know this if possible:
I also have a message that I do not know how to put together yet. But it goes a little bit like this:
I think, especially for CBS students, it is important to think about money, business but democracy too. This situation in Ukraine is very much fuelled and enabled by the West, following what was in the media portrayed as “economic” decisions. Economic gain and growth, in this context, isn’t just a cheap excuse about prioritising short-term gain and closed-minded political ambitions?
Bad leaders are using that as a weapon. They are using their trade and economics as a tool to propel their ideology. We, in the West, however, use trade and economics as our ideology. Shouldn’t business, trade and economics be used as tools for good and not as goals in themselves?’
There is not much I can add to this, just that this is happening and let me tell you it is not that far from us here either. And that, even in Romania or any other NATO or EU country, there are tensions like never before.
I’m finishing writing this at 00:12 DK time. God only knows what will happen between now and when it is posted. Pray for Ukraine!