Am I okay in Ukraine? And what do I make of the embassy asking Americans to leave?

Response to a friend of mine:

1) I think the US State Department is overly sensitive after the fiasco in Afghanistan. While the threat is real, I’m not sure it’s as imminent as US rhetoric would suggest.

2) Russia is extremely unpredictable. It is their doctrine to be so. So it’s hard to say what will happen for sure.

3) Having said that, the absolute worst case scenario for Russia is to appear weak on the international stage. This cannot be overstated. The only strong card they have is the appearance of military strength, and they know it. That’s why they usually spend a lot of time threatening and running military exercises. I think they fear an open conflict would expose a lot of weakness in their military. In the 2014-16 invasion, they went to extraordinary lengths to hide casualty numbers and the few battlefield set backs the Ukrainians handed them.

4) Think of how they took Vladivostok from the Chinese. They spend decades massing troops and settlers, but waited until Chinas was busy with the Second Opium War to move against the city. This patience and opportunism is a much more “Russian” approach than open invasion.

5) I visited a great crypto meetup in Kyiv yesterday. There were about a dozen foreigners, mostly American, a few British, one Belgian. So yes, while there is definitely tension, and even preparations underway (first aid classes, people buying guns), life is pretty normal.

6) Check out my blog post about Ukrainian bureaucrats and Russian tanks:

and thanks for thinking of us. :-)