Russian president Vladimir Putin asserted yesterday that Ukraine doesn't exist, reasoning that Russia created the territory sometime in the past and therefore it remains part of Russia today. This raises some questions:
- If that were the case, how can Russia now recognize two "independent republics" with governments legally authorized to request Russian "peacekeepers?"
- Should New York send troops into its breakaway region in Vermont, and Massachusetts take back its former territory of Maine?
- How unpopular must Putin be at home that he needs to do something this dramatic to distract the world?
Let's also not forget that the Ukrainian fracas has taken the world's attention away from the South China Sea, where the next real war will probably happen. Fun times, fun times.
Probably the last Kyiv photo for now: St. Sofia Cathedral, build in stages starting in 1037.
In the courtyard nearby they have a carillon, which every child encountering it needed to smack around. Detail:
I can't remember exactly where this is—I think it's Kontraktova Square—but I remember it was beautiful. Note the chestnut trees in full bloom on the right. That's Kyiv in spring for you.
No one should visit Kyiv without seeing the Kievo-Percherska Lavra (Києво-Печерська лавра), the Monestery of the Caves, founded in 1015:
We didn't go into the caves (and I couldn't have photographed them anyway), but we did explore the grounds. (For what it's worth, Lonely Planet recommends getting there early and going straight to the caves. Next time.)
Complete view of the main entrance to the upper Lavra:
I had the good fortune to stay with friends in an apartment building constructed only in the last few years. Much of the housing stock in Kyiv reaches back to Soviet times, showing individuality only by varying levels of maintenance performed by each owner. Fortunately, many of these apartment buildings have given way to newer ones. They're still...how does one say?...ugly:
In one of the oldest section of the city, Podil, the mix of pre-Soviet buildings and modern advertising looks a lot more like Western Europe. Here's a view of vul Petra Sahaydachnoho from a cafe near Poshtova Square:
I found myself distracted today by 22°C sunny weather and a 3-hour client meeting. Moving on: more photos from Kyiv, of St. Michael's monastery (Михайлівський золотоверхий монастир):
I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Incidentally, you have to be this tall to go on this ride:
(Yes, it's cliché, but sometimes the classics are best.)
First shot from the mystery destination:
This is the Мати-Батьківщина (Mat-Batkivshyna, or Mother Motherland), part of the Great Patriotic War memorial just southeast of the center of Kyiv, Ukraine.
Lonely Planet asserts the nickname of this statue is "Tin Tits," but my host, who is native Ukrainian and has lived in Kyiv for years, believes LP made this up.
Many more to follow.