Romania, things you do not see in the big news outlets

by Andrada Costoiu

The war in Ukraine has shattered the world, as it should have happened with the wars in Syria, with the ones in parts of Africa and in many other places of the world where populations have been or are still being displaced or killed for political reasons. We didn’t see this kind of international response in those other cases, but this is another conversation that the world should have, because as people we should all be treated the same, regardless of race, religion, gender and of the other kinds of social markers.

It is the war in Ukraine I would like to talk about today. In the past week I have been in touch with people from my birth country, some of which are in powerful political positions. Besides getting official information, I also get to see the inside of how Romania is responding to the crisis in Ukraine.

I’d like to bring up a story, from the town where I was born, Targu Jiu, which has about 80,000 inhabitants. Not a big place, not a lot of people, not extremely rich, still…. people are pulling together to help the best they can their displaced Ukrainian neighbors.

Dana Constantinescu, the Director of Inspectorate of Education of Gorj Country, has mobilized the schools within the county’s jurisdiction and organized centers where people can donate household items, food and everything they can spare to help the refugees of Ukraine. 

Photo: Dana Constantinescu, Director of Inspectorate of Education of Gorj country

This is what it looked like yesterday……..

Amazing, isn’t it? And this is just one county…

The Romanian government has launched a platform to coordinate the help for Ukraine  Impreuna Ajutam mai Mult. They did this in record time. This is a platform where volunteers and organizations can mobilize and coordinate help for refugees, and it is also a place where refugees can find official information about how to get medical services, find jobs and obtain asylum in Romania (this is for long term- because immediate help is provided at the borders).

Romania is also sending medication, hospital beds and medical equipment into Ukraine.

Photo: Romanian Government/Facebook

According to UN, as of March 9th here is how refugee are distributed across Eastern Europe:

  • Poland has taken in 1,412,502 refugees
  • Hungary 214,160
  • Slovakia 165,199
  • Russia 97,098
  • Romania 84,671
  • Moldova 82,762
  • Belarus 765

Other 255,000 people have gone to other European countries, the UN says.

For more information about Ukraine’s refugees check the UN website by clicking here: UN/Ukraine refugee situation.

All wars are destructive. ALL! I am not sure where and how this is going to end, but seeing people pulling together for the ones in need is a ray of sunshine in a gloomy world.

Ukraine War and the elephant in the room

by Andrada Costoiu

We live in unprecedented times, not because wars did not happen before but because the military power and the weapons’ sophistication is far beyond what nation states had at hand before. If you’re watching TV and reading the news you hear politicians, economists and journalists giving their opinions. Some of them are extremely offensive, some of them have smiles on their faces.  I do not enjoy any of it, and I find myself in political impossibility. 

I would like to see a reasonable end to the madness we are all part of. I have been trying to, but people who are knowledgeable of Russian politics do not say good things about how this is going to end.

Fiona Hill, an expert in Russia politics says in an interview that was published by Politico: “Every time you think, ’No, he wouldn’t, would he?’ Well, yes, he would. And he wants us to know that, of course. It’s not that we should be intimidated and scared…. We have to prepare for those contingencies and figure out what is it that we’re going to do to head them off.”

You can read her interview if you clock here: Fiona Hill Politico Interview

Thomas Friedman, an author that has penned well known books on world politics, says that he sees 3 scenarios about how this war ends. None of them are rosy, but the less likely of them it’s called …. “the salvation.” You can read that New York Times article here:

And, just yesterday, US gov is offering advice on how to survive a nuclear blast.  Here it is : Nuclear Explosion

Ok, so, first, people in Ukraine are dying. That’s right, children, old people, women and men are dying.
Second, if the government is kindly offering us advice of how to survive nuclear blast, they should also know that nobody survives above the ground in the area of the blast.  We also do not have the kind of houses that would offer protection against the penetration of gamma radiation, in case we are not in the blast area. And….in California there are no basements.
So, no, I am not smiling. None of us should. Perhaps the ones smiling on TV and in political and in other kinds of circles have a plan B. But us, regular people, do not.

Biden said yesterday “We’re ready.” 
I am asking, ready for what? 
What are the checks and balances in the situation that is unfolding right under our eyes?
Is there a logical, tactical plan that would end this or at least minimize the damages and the risks?

I am never pessimistic, but right now I need someone to help me out of the gloom. 

From the Lion King that my kids love so much, to Star Wars, the Edge of Tomorrow and you name it, everyone likes to think they’re a hero. Right now, I and us all are looking for that kind of hero, but in real life. We need somebody wise that would be able to de escalate the conflict. 
If he shows up, god bless him/her/they (or whatever the pronoun the hero would like!). We should call him: The man/woman who saved the world.

May we all see the light.

More about the crisis in Ukraine

By Andrada Costoiu

First, I would like to offer a little background on this, for people who are not familiar with this part of the world.
I think that what is happening right now was brewing for a while.

Putin was deeply bothered (for a long time!) but more so since the Revolution of Dignity.
Back in 2013, Ukraine’s pro-European trajectory was abruptly halted in November 2013 when Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine at that time, bowed to intense pressure from Moscow just days before the association was to be signed.

Protests took place over the next months, people were jailed, scores of others were killed until in February 2014 when Yanukovych and his regime were ousted. It was great, because the Ukrainian economy and politics were struggling with oligarch-controlled manufacturing industries and with the same kind of control in political life.

The same year, in the aftermath of this revolution, Russia attacked and annexed Crimea. In that conflict only, when Russia invaded and occupied Crimea, over 13,000 people died.
I am not sure what is going to happen now. Nothing is surprising anymore. I won’t be surprised if Putin wants to bring back the former president Viktor Yanukovych.
I won’t be surprised by any twists and turns in this ongoing war.

Second, I am worried about the escalation of the curent conflict.
If a missile goes wrong, in the wrong direction…let’s say towards Romania or another NATO member, the situation can get seriously out of control. Not that anything is in order now, because at Romania’s and Poland’s borders there are already thousands of refugees. And I can’t even think of what is on the ground in Ukraine.

And, there is one more thing…..the situation in the Black Sea is not very good. According to news outlets , Snake Island is now controlled by the Russian army.

The island itself is Ukrainian, but, for a long time, Romania refused to legally recognize it as an island so as not to lose sovereignty over the surrounding waters. The territorial limits of the continental shelf around Snake Island were finally delineated by the International Court of Justice in 2009, and Romania has 9,700 square kilometers of the continental shelf around the island.

To be continued…….

Ukraine attack

by Andrada Costoiu


Do you agree with this?
And now, it is time for a second question: WHO ARE THE HOUSEKEEPERS? 

I was born and raised in Romania. We were communist for so long, and it wasn’t the greatest time of our history. Then, the Romanian Revolution came in 1989 followed by waves after waves of corrupted politics. It’s been 30 years and although the new society and political structure was not built at all levels the way that it was expected (lots of Romanian industry landmarks and natural resources have been sold to foreign companies for pennies, by corrupt leaders, while their accounts were loaded with money), Romanians are free. Romania is a democracy, a beautiful country with beautiful people that live their life in peace. Everybody is doing the best they can, living and speaking their minds without the fear of being jailed or killed. I cannot imagine going back in time, to the old ways of life. I can’t.

Now, let’s go back to Ukraine.  How do these people feel and most importantly, who is there for them? Them, themselves only?  What should they do, while Russia is on one side and NATO on the other side? They are part of none, but they’re in the middle. 
How much time do you think they can hold in this position? 

Photo credit: Paul Michelman, MIT Sloan Review

Yes, unfortunately, the geopolitical situation of Ukraine sucks. It really does, and there is nothing drastic that can be done about it, unless the world is ready to risk war expansion and massive loss of life.

Unfortunately, the way our world is built it places value more on institutions than on what it actually happens on the ground. It is the same whether we consider the macro and micro scales. When planes throw bombs, they do not imagine families in those buildings, mothers crying next to her children, and old people huddled in bed praying for their lives. They throw bombs in the name of geopolitics, in the name of balance of power, and not in the name of humanity.

What is happening right now in our world is not only about Ukraine, about Russia, about NATO. It is about everything, including geopolitics, big corporations and interest games that are sucking our souls, the people.

There are, for example, approximately 40,000 oil fields globally and 6 million people that live or work nearby. If not done carefully, drilling pollutes local soil, water, and air, which in turn causes cancer, liver damage …and in general, the destruction of our planet.  In the game corporations vs cost of human lives, who wins? Us, people?

There are many such examples, but without loading this post with much information, I want to go back to the simple statement and the simple question I posed above.