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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

Fragments from a War Diary, Part #231

Today’s not the best of days. You’ve probably by now read in the international media, if not from me, that Ukraine is plunged into cyber-blackout after the operations of Kyivstar, the country’s principal mobile telephone and internet provider, was the victim of some sort of complex cyber-attack. So far the outage has lasted over 24 hours and it’s starting to have a serious effect on everybody’s lives. It means lots of people have no internet or television at home, although I do, by some miracle, because the apartment I am renting uses one of the smaller service providers. But this all makes you realise how much we rely upon internet connectivity these days. Last night the restaurant I went to would only accept cash. And the cash machines don’t work because the internet is down. A lot of shops were simply closed, because in Ukraine everyone pays for things electronically and cash is relatively rare: something I have observed in prior diary entries. Hence as soon as the phone and internet groups go down, the shops have to close because nobody can pay for anything. One of the few places still accepting card payments is the Mos Eisley Space Port, so I might just have to spend the day in there, drinking vodka all day. It’s not an ideal outcome, but I only have about 150 Gryvnas in my wallet (slightly less than 4 Euros) so I don’t have a huge number of choices. At least the heating and lighting still works in my apartment. I have a piece of chicken and some stale bread and a cup of hot chocolate, but not much else so it’s going to be a tough day. There’s no doubt about that.

Still, Kyiv was under heavy artillery bombardment last night and in frozen Saigon we didn’t have that. Again this might be something to do with the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to give his “state of the nation” speech to the Russian people tomorrow and therefore his generals are under pressure to show some sort of progress in Ukrainian theatre. We really have no idea. All we know is that Russia is now focusing in her long-range attacks upon civilian targets upon use of Shaheed drones, essentially flying high-explosive warheads using drone technology, because they are far cheaper than ballistic missiles which Russia for the most part seems to have run out of (at least the modern ones).

In these times of great hardship, people stick together. War is a great unifier of people and it helps you get everything in perspective. Whatever else is going on in your life, at least you’re not in the trenches on the front lines fighting and dying and starving and shooting. That is what I keep thinking to myself. All life’s small irritations, they flutter life daffodils in the breeze compared to what is going on here in Ukraine and I am in the middle of it and it’s no good at all and the future of Europe is at stake and somehow I think that people in the West are only waking up to that now. You have to realise that this is a terrible conflict in which human civilisation is pitted against barbarism. It is an existential crisis and all those values you live by in the West: they’re all at stake. The routines you have in your daily life, waking up, taking the train to work, stuck on a London commuter train, working in the office, drawing out money to buy a sandwich for lunch, all these things: they’re all gone in Ukraine and normality in western life is now at stake because mass war has returned to the European continent. I don’t mean to sound apocalyptic but this really is a question of whether we want to keep living in a peaceful international order if whether we want the world ripped apart once more by global conflict. That’s what the war in Ukraine is all about and that is why it deserves your support against the world’s most dangerous man, the indicted war criminal, Vladimir Putin.

As a lawyer, I have spent much of my career writing lots of silly correspondence. “Dear Sir / Madam, We refer to your letter of such-and-such date. We want to emphasise that our client thoroughly contests the heinous and outrageous allegations contained in your letter, and he reserves all his rights.” And all of this sort of thing that lawyers love writing to one-another. And as I sit here in the middle of a telecommunications blackout that shows no signs of abating, I realise how pointless it all is. We’ve all become addicted to our mobile phones, and now my phone is just a useless piece of junk in my pocket and so are my bank cards.

However I see those rickety Soviet-era trams trundling past from my apartment window, and I recall that some things have never caught up with modern technology. The trams in Lviv involve buying a piece of thin paper from the driver and then jamming it in some ancient metal vice attached to the wall of the tram and pressing hard to put a certain number of perforated holes in it. Recently someone installed some fancy gadgets for paying for your tram tickets by waving your phone over a screen, but I don’t suppose they work right now.

I’m going to try to stop being so maudlin, and I am going to go out there and help the war effort not using my brain which is old and tired anyway or by typing on a computer but by using my hands. I can’t think of what else to do. While this network outage continues, you may not hear from me for a while; Ukraine is being reduced to the IT dark ages b before the era of all these portable devices and things we take for granted. Don’t worry about me; I’ll still be around; if you’re concerned then you can always call in at the Moss Eisley Space Port and listen to me talking drearily about the Imperial threat and the plucky Ukrainian rebels keeping civilisation alive.


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