Special Episode: What’s Going On in Ukraine?

Gabriela Molina

Rustam Ahdierviev is the VP of Operations. He has worked in DistantJob for 10 years and has covered almost every single role. He is in charge of development and design for all internal IT projects.

Ukraine

Read the transcript

Luis:

Hey, ladies and gentlemen, this is Luis, your host on this podcast that’s usually about building and leading awesome remote teams. There is no intro song today, because I didn’t feel it was right. We’re dealing with a serious situation here.

Luis:

This is a podcast about Ukraine, and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. This is a podcast about war being at the gates of Europe.

Luis:

And the reason I’m doing this podcast is because, as part of a distributed team, as part of a company that has people from all over the world, this affects us greatly. And this affects people that we care for.

Luis:

I feel it’s my duty; in fact, we at DistantJob and also at ThinkRemote think it’s our duty to let the world know about these things. Because now, we claim that our business is built around the fact that we live in a global society. And this is the kind of thing that we shouldn’t allow, we shouldn’t take quietly when we live in a global society. So that’s the reason.

Luis:

The quality of this interview, one of the people in this interview is in a country that is at war, that is having infrastructure blow up. So please forgive if there are some hiccups. We try to clean up as much as possible. But there’s only so much you can do with unreliable internet, when there are missiles flying around and stuff like that.

Luis:

But apart from that, this will give you a real glimpse of what it is to live right there. Even from a relatively privileged position of someone that doesn’t have their job tied to Ukraine, that can do their job from anywhere around the world, it’s still a very tough situation, incredibly tough situation.

Luis:

And we all have, no matter how little power we have, there’s always something that we can do to make things better, that’s a bit over just putting a Ukrainian flag on our Twitter bio or our Facebook profiles.

Luis:

With that said, the following interview is with my friend, and the VP of DistantJob, Rustam, and he is in Ukraine right now. I hope that not that you enjoy the interview, but I hope that the interview proves insightful. And will motivate you to do whatever you can to make sure that the situation ends as fast as it can, and that it never happens again. Thank you.

Luis:

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. This is a special edition of the DistantJob podcast. We have war at the doors of Europe. Russia has invaded Ukraine, and this hits very close to home for DistantJob, because some of the key members in our team work from Ukraine, are Ukrainians; so this affects us a lot.

Luis:

And we wanted to really give you a show explaining what is it like on the ground, how this is affecting people that are working and living in Ukraine, and obviously also affecting the people who’s made friends with them through remote work.

Luis:

So I have with us today our VP of Operations, who’s been on the podcast before, Rustam. Rustam is in Ukraine and is going to give us the perspective of what it’s like being … and we’re not even talking about work.

Luis:

I’ve seen people say about work in Twitter and I’m like, “I don’t care if people are productive or not. If there’s a war going on, I care about the people being safe and their families being safe, and what we can do to help that.”

Luis:

So, yeah, Rustam, it’s been a crazy 24 hours, less than that, actually. Tell me what’s happening; what’s your situation? What have you done for yourself and your family?

Rustam:

Hi, Luis. It’s a pleasure to be here. And it’s always a pleasure to hear you, because I hear you pretty much every day. But still, it’s a pleasure.

Rustam:

Okay. So here’s the current situation. This wasn’t just a 24 hours. 24 hours just was like a nuclear bomb explosion. Thank God not yet, but it definitely feels like it. The problem with that, I knew that this is going to explode. I knew this for at least months something.

Rustam:

I’m not a seer. I don’t possess any super-special powers, other than maybe average intuition. But what I’ve noticed, the way Russia escalated everything. They figure out they don’t want to upset China, so they wouldn’t do anything before during the Olympics. You may argue and say, “How could you know that? Last time they invaded Ukraine in 2014 during the Olympics?”

Rustam:

Again, keep in mind, different time. Nobody’s ready for this in this regard or that sense. So things have changed. But something was really, all the business of data whatever was gathering, all the intel showed me that this is what’s going to be happening.

Rustam:

Prior to coming, I’m in the opposite side of Ukraine. I’m opposite side of Kharkiv. I’m in the Western side of Ukraine as of right now. I moved here I think last Thursday, if I’m not mistaken, because time kind of blurred, or Wednesday; I apologize, I can’t really immediately tell you.

Rustam:

And because I knew something is going to happen and I didn’t really want to do it last second, because I have a bunch of friends; I was literally talking every day. I was showing the facts, upcoming things. And you know, people prefer to say, “Nothing is going to happen. Nothing is going to happen. Come on Russia attacking Ukraine? That’s crazy. They’re brothers, they treat us as brothers.”

Rustam:

This is, by the way, the biggest misconception. Russians always called Ukrainians brothers. Ukrainians never called Russians brothers. For them, throughout the history, they’ve been penalized for free thinking, for desire any sort of independence. Even the Catherine the Great pretty much destroyed the Cossacks in Ukraine, tried to distort our history and oppressed us since then.

Rustam:

In fact, Ukraine been witnessing baiting by Russia since forever. You may argue and say that Ukraine had this moment long time before, even during the part of being Rzeczpospolita or Austro-Hungarian Empire. But it wasn’t nothing like that.

Rustam:

Living under certain kind of occupation of part of bigger empire comes with things. But you have to understand: It’s one thing to be part of Rzeczpospolita; you still have rights and laws, or Austro-Hungarian Empire. And it’s another thing being under the horde that doesn’t treat you like a second- class citizen. They treat you like something just in your way.

Rustam:

I’m not getting emotional here. I’m just quickly jumping through history from the point that has not really been … I don’t know, maybe not really known for the lots of Western listeners. But what’s happening?

Rustam:

Before this events, I was talking to every friend of mine and I’m telling him, “It’s time to leave. It’s going to be too late. You’re never going to make it because they’re going to close, et cetera, et cetera.”

Rustam:

And Luis, this is going to hit a home run to you as well, because you know what I was going through. I was doing my dental work. I actually had a lot of dental thing happening. Yeah, it’s most inconvenient time. It’s like the last thing you do, the dental. But dental is the type of thing you will do the teeth when the time comes, or the teeths going to do you.

Rustam:

I was in the middle of everything, and I literally had to pay premium and to get it done couple of days before. I remember getting these permanent implants installed, and even the chief of the clinic was like, “Yeah, yeah, is this the scary patient he’s running?” And he wasn’t trying to be an asshole, just to be clear.

Luis:

No; just in denial-

Rustam:

He just-

Luis:

… right?

Rustam:

Yeah. Yeah. Not of it denial. It sounded all too much surreal.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

Just surreal, surreal. How do you- [crosstalk 00:08:18]

Luis:

But don’t you think? I mean, don’t you think that part of that is because … look, if he has to run away, that’s done. That’s his job. I do think that people like us have an advantage because wherever we are, [crosstalk 00:08:32] we can take our job with us.

Rustam:

Yeah, I’m getting into this, I’m getting into this.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

You’d be surprised. The most people I interact with are people having remote jobs.

Luis:

Really? Wow.

Rustam:

This is the crazy part. They’re not some lunatics. Those are really senior-plus level Jews with seven, 10 years of experience in their field. System administrators, developers, business analysts. It’s just a problem of human nature. People would rather believe that nothing ever going to happen to them.

Rustam:

Just like, and I’m going to draw the parallel here, but in Nazi Germany. People like, “Yeah, he’s never going to do this. Yeah, he’s never going to kill Jews.” But this is what be happening right now.

Rustam:

I’m going to jump a little bit fast forward here. But this entire thing that is happening right now, if you open a blitzkrieg operation and you apply it to the situation, what Putin is trying to do right now, you get the exactly same picture. But we’ll get back to that later.

Rustam:

So I’m talking to all of these educated, smart people that have money. They have means; they have everything. But there is one thing people often don’t understand: is that people would rather die often in comfort with the possibility of disaster than leave and have a discomfort.

Rustam:

I’m not like that; I prepare. Luis, you know me for how many years already?

Luis:

Yeah. I think it was 2017. Right? I think that seven years now-

Rustam:

Five years?

Luis:

[crosstalk 00:10:03] … years, six years, five years, five years- [crosstalk 00:10:04]

Rustam:

… six years; oh my God. Ain’t this shit. Jesus.

Luis:

Six years almost. Yes.

Rustam:

Yeah. And-

Luis:

Yes, five, six years.

Rustam:

So you know me; like you as well, I prefer to see this patch in para bellum; if you want, please get ready for war. I’d like to have things done and prepared before time. Not the last second, because everyone postpone to the last second.

Luis:

Exactly.

Rustam:

And when I left, people like, “Yeah, it’s crazy. Doesn’t make sense.” I had even the arguments with my family because it didn’t seem like right thing, yadda yadda. But you know, I had to be convincing. I have to find a means. And again, remote work comes to an end.

Rustam:

We’re not advertising remote job here, but let me just blow your hat off. I have a friend in the city I am. For lots of reasons, I’m not going to right now give the city name.

Luis:

Yeah. Of course.

Rustam:

But I know him for eight years. He’s an avid board gamer. He has like 400-plus board games. He’s like-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:11:04]

Rustam:

He’s an avid board gamer. He has 400 plus board games. He’s like you, but of board games. For anybody you don’t know, Louis has an incredible video games collection with collectables. It’s just insane.

Luis:

Yes.

Rustam:

Just insane. Just insane, cool. I’m not going to tell you where he lives, just to be clear. For any money in the world.

Rustam:

But look, it happens that he’s a very talented guy, lives in a tiny village here pretty much, and he is fluent in English, his German is in pretty good shape. I mean, rusty on the sides, but still there. It doesn’t matter. And he was having a hard time finding a job. He was moderating some board games forum, doing 3D modeling, and other thing. But he couldn’t find himself, in a sense struggling, because it’s a situation where you are overqualified for the place where you live, but you have a family, you can’t move. So actually, one thing led to another, and distant job is just growing, it’s so immersively and insane. And I say, “Yeah, you know what? You actually look like a fit to become one of our sources.” He got an interview with the director of recruitment. And before that, actually, he played some board games with Tabletop Simulator with us, because it’s his big shtick.

Rustam:

Following that, I offer him the job. Igor, our director of recruitment, which is also right here with me, was living from under the Kyiv, and we touch with space part later. Again, he got the job and he have helped me to organize here the move, apartments, all the other logistical stuff. But to be honest, even if I wouldn’t know him, I would still go somewhere far away, because if there’s anything dangerous… But people, again, don’t want to think about, when shit happens, looting, big cities, and any closeness to the war objects is a very dangerous thing. None of the people other than our director of recruitment left from the places they’ve been. And now they deadlocked.

Luis:

Wow.

Rustam:

I was chatting with people in Kharkiv.

Luis:

How are they deadlocked? What’s happening on the streets that’s deadlocking them?

Rustam:

Well, first of all, Ukraine, you probably don’t know this, enabled the war regimen across the entire country so we cannot leave the places where you live. The cities are locked. But Kyiv, you can leave Kyiv, for example, but you just can’t because the lines are insane. From this morning, I woken up today to my wife crying pretty much, but saying that her city, Vovchansk, is 30 kilometers away from the Russian border in Belgorod, was under fire. They bombing it.

Luis:

Wow. That’s where her family is, right?

Rustam:

Yes. Her parents refuse to leave. They’re safe. Just going fast forward, they’re safe. They just moved in there. They seize the control. They put the Russian Aquafresh on the stick. In case, people, you don’t know, Russian flag is actually probably sponsored by Aquafresh. It’s a joke. No affiliation, obviously. Nobody is sponsoring fascism is like this. I hope so, at least.

Luis:

No.

Rustam:

But anyhow, people couldn’t believe. She spent a good 30 minutes just trying to believe this is real. For me, it wasn’t the news. I was preparing for this shit. I was getting ready for this shit. And that’s why I taken action before shit happens. Now, I talked to a couple of other friends, which one them actually got a stroke and was in the hospital just recovering from the surgery, and doctors are leaving, and it’s only his wife there. They had to fucking crack his head open. I apologize for the profanity. They had to crack his head open to get the aneurysm out of it. So do this recovering from the stroke, and the doctors are leaving and he’s alone in the hospital. This was really surreal.

Rustam:

Things been happening crazy. And it’s not remote job. And what I’m telling you… And this is… Look, I was talking about the people who had means, even not remote job, who had set money aside, but they’ve been delaying because it’s so much uncomfortable to take action to move somewhere, to break your routine. It’s definitely uncomfortable. But I guess I’m in a certain sense citizen of the world, because owning an apartment in Ukraine is like owning a Ferrari. It’s very expensive. Our like mortgage market is insane. We would be ending up paying like 40%. Not 30, but 40%, you heard it right.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

So not owning a lot of stuff, even though we had a small apartment in that city, is actually a benefit in that sense. And we still moved because there was no option. You’d rather be alive with no money than debt with all the money you carry. You just can’t carry them to the grave. I guess it really applies to stoicism and reinforces this philosophy in the action.

Rustam:

Smart people didn’t want to leave, weren’t convinced enough. And Louis, you know me, I can probably provide enough arguments to build my case around pretty much anything, but I was helpless and with the all grown-up people with families that take their own decisions. Some of them I message, I say most of them right now are sitting in the basements of their building in the bomb shelters. For real. My mom is in the bomb shelter as well. She also refused to leave.

Luis:

Wow.

Rustam:

But at least it’s in her apartment where she lives, in the building when she lives. It’s kind of safe. It’s in the area of it, and likely get bombed and everything. But yeah, this is the reality of things.

Luis:

What’s the situation? I mean, historically, whatever Putin and Russia grab, they keep. It’s safe to say that whatever happens, they’re not letting go of whatever parts they have occupied. And they keep occupying more. So what does this mean for the people working from the Ukraine a year from now? Something like that. What does this mean for people that are going to essentially live in Russian territory? Even if they don’t call it Russia, right? We all know that it’s in fact… Even if they call it the whatever, whatever Republic of liberated Ukrainians that didn’t want to be Ukrainians, we all know that’s just a scam, that it’s actually Russia. So what does it mean for the people that are going to be living there moving forward and working from there?

Rustam:

When you have a puppet regime, you always get one thing. You get a lot of propaganda, you get increased poverty, and increased people they’re going to be going trying to get into Russia because they’re going to get better jobs one way or another. People of semi called LNR and DNR, like Luhansk and Donetsk, so-called People’s Republic, they try to show that… Look, can you imagine there’s more ends? For real but try to show… but we actually have more demands for jobs than the people to be able to do jobs, which is mental, because they’re not the jobs people would want to do.

Rustam:

Easiest example, I don’t even want to go far, but go to Moldova. Because I have some Romanian blood in me as well. I’m a very multicultural child. I’m a mix of five or six bloods. And it’s not just some blend of like I’m one 25% Irish or whatever. It’s just a long story and deserves a different explanations. But anyhow, take Moldova and Romania. You go to Romania, it’s a European country with its own problems and everything, and Romania is very close in certain areas, especially connect with Russia. And Moldova is a crazy place. People that live in Moldova are brainwashed. Two days ago, you told me the story. You’ve been talking to the lady in Portugal that were telling that Ukrainians are killing themselves.

Luis:

[crosstalk 00:19:51] Yeah. Go on.

Rustam:

Yeah, yeah. And that she is… You tell the story, it’s going to be better. It’s your story. I don’t want to… [crosstalk 00:20:02]

Luis:

So we have a Moldovan community here in the town where I live, and the lady was just… The kind of propaganda that we were… I can’t believe. It feels stupid now because two days ago we were looking at Putin’s propaganda showing how the people were being mistreated in the separatist regions of Ukraine. To us, it was obvious that it was a fake, but then the lady comes here, she does some work around the house, and she totally believes it. She’s says, “No, no, no, it’s not. The Russians aren’t killing anyone. It’s the Ukrainians killing the Ukrainians.” And I’m like, “My God. This stuff actually works. People actually believe this.” Yeah, I guess that’s… You’re giving the example of Moldova, that’s basically a Russian client state, how life is so much suckier there compared to Romania. It’s basically the same place, except one is under the influence of Russia and the other is under the influence of the EU.

Rustam:

Look, Russia never was very original. We like to play by the old playbook. You took at Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia. You look at the Pridnestrovian or Moldava region. You look at… What else was it? Georgia. It’s always the same thing over and over again. It’s all about finding kind and happy people living in the smallest population, providing them with means for destruction weapons, and just telling them how oppressed they are. So as soon as they’re going to drop the chains and going to be free with the support of the great brother, that we’re going to have a prosperous life. But this is never the case. Anyhow, I think we’re getting maybe a bit more political here because we’ve still trying to talk from the perspective of ordinary people and how they live their…

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:22:04]

Rustam:

… from the perspective of ordinary people and how they live their life and how the things are going.

Luis:

How are things in the ground? That’s what I need to know. And of course, people will understand that we are recording this in war time. One of us is in a country that’s being attacked, that infrastructure is being bombed, et cetera. So of course the recording won’t be perfect, but people will understand that. So what was today like? What is like trying to live and work from a country that’s being invaded by Russia?

Rustam:

Okay. So let me just get back again to the start of event. So, like I said, 5:30 in the morning, just I have a scream. Pretty much screaming in history of that, what thing is happening, that they’re bombing the [inaudible 00:22:51] and they’re taking it over, right? No. By the way, it’s fully claimed, like I said before, by Russians and she’s just hysterical. And I see the news. I watched the Putler’s addressed message. The most cynical thing about it is that he released it during the UN summit and he prerecorded it on 21st. So when he gave his big speech about democratization of Ukraine, he knew it already he would be playing. The cynicism level that they not even tried to hide this is just beyond capacity.

Rustam:

The first my reaction was okay. It’s a good thing. I listen to nobody but myself, where everybody’s saying nothing is going to happen and they made a move. Next thing, I made all calls, parents, friends. I got a call from Sharon. I got a call from Mercedes. Sharon is the president of our company. Mercedes is the lead account manager and a bunch of other things. I call the people I knew and woke them up. I have current colleagues who were like others. I just tried to get in touch and make sure everybody’s safe. I wasn’t panicking because I was preparing for this. I was hoping I still had more time. Like I said, I was expecting this for the reasons being everything was boiling up to this thing.

Luis:

What’s the situation on the street? What are the dangers you face if you try to go out now for food, to get a doctor [crosstalk 00:24:19]?

Rustam:

Let me tell you the morning story. So what happens, this friend of mine, I told you before and the distant job, newest employee, it’s a funny thing to get a new employee during the war, but what gives? So I think around 7:30 maybe, we went out, his wife, jump in the car, go to the supermarket to buy some groceries, just to be sure. And the lines were already massively forming. People going to the ATM machines trying to withdraw the money. People driving streets very dangerously, nobody, with the situation like this, they don’t really watch how we drive, how they do things. All of this stuff was very, very, how do you say, unregulated. So I had to remind Alex, we really need to pack in the seatbelt, because people are not really pointing attention. So we got some supplies. We got some water obviously. When I talk to Duschen, our CTO is Boston Health Peruvian, and he knows what it’s like to be bombed, because of the situation with Kosovo.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

Actually, I think he’s a pretty, one of the most calm people I know, but I think it moved his situation, put the crack in his rock or more because it brought the worst memories for him. I was calmer than him because it brought the worst. Because what was happening in Serbia was a disaster. You can’t call it the other way around. So people just started to get back to me. Crazy thing is, a lot of these people are distant job employees. And I’m very blessed at the times like this, to realize how many people in the company are my friends and care for me. It wasn’t a politeness. Nobody just sent a message. People called, asked, wanted to get more details, et cetera. I talked to several people I know from the UN, from-

Luis:

I just sent a message and invited for you to call me. I’m the asshole.

Rustam:

No, no, no, no, no. I meant everybody pretty much did the same thing. Everybody inquired. And it wasn’t polite, “Is everything all right?” It wasn’t like that. People genuinely cared. I felt it through every moment. I felt the support and I felt advice. And it wasn’t like, “We care for you. We’re sorry.” Everyone tried to ask, “What can I do for you? For you eager…” Yes. There were no thoughts and prayers. There was people really asking, “What can I do?” Just by the way as we’re chatting, do you remember Roxanna? Roxanna [crosstalk 00:26:58]?

Luis:

Yes. Yes. Yes. I remember. She worked with us on marketing.

Rustam:

Yeah. She just messaged me. She just say, “I have a family here near this. This is the city. This is my phone number. If you need anything.”

Luis:

Yeah. Remember also we got Sharon’s our president’s expert assistant, Vanessa. She called me asking about you. She doesn’t have your contact. Yeah.

Rustam:

So this is what’s happening and this is crazy, but it’s actually amazing. Because I remember with Roxy, when she was living, it was rough. It wasn’t handled in the best way. But nonetheless, when the smoke gets down, we were still on the good terms and everything. And when shit happens and people generally start to get back to you, you really realize who are your friends and who are the people that care for you. And it’s very touching just having this, having people from all over the world calling you inquiring. I had people calling from Sweden, United States, Canada, like you, including Portugal, also in the country Ukraine, Romania, from a bunch of our team from Latin America, everybody was trying to get into touch. So I get Columbia, Argentina, Ecuador, pretty much from everywhere we have the team.

Rustam:

And it wasn’t a polite, “Hey, we’re sorry.” Everybody was trying to put their weight into the situation. And if there’s anything that shows what the right work culture brings, this is the result. I’m moved. I’m genuinely moved by our team, with empathy, but it’s put out there not just to show off. It’s put there as a strong support. I feel it. I feel it every second and that’s a lot.

Luis:

Well good. That’s great. That’s great to know. So people ask obviously, why don’t you just get out? What is preventing people that have remote works? What is preventing them from leaving Ukraine?

Rustam:

Well, as of right now, because the war regimen is enabled, you cannot leave, because we might be called in reservists. And we don’t allow anybody pretty much to leave. The borders are closed. The military is semi-controlling the street. So your car’s going to be searched and everything. The closest missile that landed to where I am was 90 kilometers away. Russians, for people that don’t know, in less than five hours, they destroyed almost all of our airports, or damaged at least, very severely lots of warehouse for ammunitions and everything. And then they started to attack actual civilians.

Rustam:

I’m trying to cover this through my Instagram account. It’s [email protected][crosstalk 00:29:56] probably link it there. I’m trying not to be biased. Just to be clear, I don’t hate Russia. I have lots of friends there. There’s a bunch of smart people there that are also hostages of this thing. And just to be clear, by the way, let’s just check the reality. Russia, as of today, banned any news from Ukraine about the war. There is no war. So deny, deflect, and the fourth one, fourth D, I’ve forgotten it.

Luis:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:30:27].

Rustam:

Deny, deflect and disbelief. Yeah. Four pillars of Russian diplomacy. But this is what’s happening. When I opened the Russian news to check what’s happening, ooh, that’s a lot, they are doing deliberating war as we speak right now.

Luis:

[crosstalk 00:30:47].

Rustam:

As we speak right now, we’re trying to take Chernobyl. Do I need to remind anyone here what Chernobyl is? Did you guys see this TV show? I was born in 1985. I was in hockey about that the time. I was lucky.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

A bunch of people in Kyiv weren’t. Its exploded. It exploded at a different time, but a lot of children at that time, I wasn’t affected by these events. And right now, in Russian news, the angle they’re given, they’re protecting Chernobyl, atomic reactor from Ukrainian fascist and nationalists that they’re trying to destroy. And just to be clear, for people that not Ukrainians and that’s maybe… I don’t know your location, map of Ukraine. So above Ukraine, there is a country called Belarus who’s also run by dictatorship. And their lead dictator pretty much sold his country to Russia due to the debts and they’re joining and becoming the one thing. And Russian troops invaded from Belarus. And the Chernobyl is-

Luis:

Yeah. Belarus, as in Belarus as a staging ground.

Rustam:

Exactly. Exactly. And right now we’re being held hostage and Putin that, “You need to guarantee us before demilitarization and then we can talk.” He wants to destroy any sign. This is not just to put us in place. If some of you listening and you’re from Russia and you think you’re just putting us in place. No. You guys clearly want to destroy us. Erase the meaning what it’s like to be Ukrainian, because according to Putin explanation, Ukraine was invented by Lenin. But I want to remind to every illiterate person who was misdirected or simply doesn’t want to see the truth, that in 1996, Moscow was a wild forest, but [inaudible 00:33:02] what persisted to Ukraine.

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [00:33:04]

Rustam:

… wild forest, but [inaudible 00:33:03] what persisted to Ukraine had the first already-built church, and it was a big one. Up until and even 1105, the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery cathedral, still one of the oldest in Europe, and in the world I think. No, no, no. It’s St. Sophia’s Cathedral at 1011, but still, and Russia was nothing. The whole point, like [inaudible 00:00:32 ], in Russian it means Rus. This is the word Russian is coming from.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

They stole everything. They stole our history, and call us the invaders and fake. I didn’t have any beef with that to start with right now. What I do care right now is the fact that we are trying to be destroyed by a big country who doesn’t want to solve its problems and rather outsource them to us, bring hell and destruction here as a base ground and a foundation for the destruction. And I just want to remind everyone, through the last month, we’ve been talking, you and I personally, and I said, “This really reminds me of Munich Agreement.”

Luis:

Yeah, it does. It does. But before that, it was a real back-stab because I’m old enough to remember that Ukraine was a nuclear nation. You had all the [crosstalk 00:34:28]-

Rustam:

I can tell you even more. In [crosstalk 00:34:30]-

Luis:

You had the deterrents that you would ever need, and you handed it to Russia, the Soviet-era ballistics, nuclear ballistics, you handed it to Russia on the promise on the promise that they wouldn’t invade.

Rustam:

The Budapest Memorandum. Yes, exactly. Signed in 1994. The thing about this, I wanted to highlight something specifically. The city, by the way, I’m from the Donbas. I was born in Donbas region, so you can hardly call me [inaudible 00:35:03] pro-Ukrainian separatist. If there’s anything, I should be the one running around, and the word for, it’s called vatnik. It’s somebody’s just undereducated, like a redneck, that’s just illiterate and just running around just saying, “Russia is great, Russia is great.” I’m sorry for my Russian accent; I really need to practice it.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

Well, anyhow, in the city, in Kharkiv, where I live a big part of my life, we’re actually divided [inaudible 00:35:32]. We cannot give the [inaudible 00:35:35] to the nuclear as a thing. The institution, the hard sciences there, the institutions for nuclear and everything, they’re massive, just from the [inaudible 00:35:44] perspective. And yes, Ukraine had a lot of nukes. And it was the biggest stab in the knife, you’re right, when we gave it away, but because it was the right thing. I honestly say, I want to say it again: if this shit would happen, we’re dealing with lunatic. I’m not sure, even right now as we speak, because right now Ukrainian forces are trying to fight and push them back. We didn’t expect this. The next thing they also might do is just going to [inaudible 00:36:11] everyone with a nuclear weapon.

Rustam:

We’re dealing with Chernenko here. For people that, again, don’t know the Soviet history, Chernenko was a KGB general, the last one died before Gorbachev, and he was very ancient. There was a moment where Russian office here stop nuclear war. So US, United States, they had the maps of the nuclear warheads available, and this dude, he was sitting on his ship, and he sees that, I think, several warheads are disappearing. The instruction says he needs to call up the chain of commands, and he knew he would do that, Chernenko, because he was a fucking old, communist lunatic. He was like, “Call for retaliation strike.” And everybody knows, in nuclear war, the only people who are winning are people that are collecting Nuka-Cola bottle caps. It’s for Fallout lovers out there. I’m sorry I’m adding a humor here, but you can’t just be all serious.

Luis:

If you want to live in Mad Max world, you’re pretty happy right now.

Rustam:

Exactly, exactly. But I’m telling, so this person stop it. And Putin is like this Chernenko because he’s a lone dictator.

Luis:

By the way, that guy who didn’t make the phone call, he was fired.

Rustam:

Yeah, he was fired. He was discharged with some bullshit charge. You know what he got? He lives in a small, very humble apartment. And yes, the world peacekeeper award was given him. To be honest, I was really pissed when I found out. Seriously. This man should be put on the life support in terms of any money he needs, anything for him and his children. He saved the world. It wasn’t just you bring a crystal award, but that’s another conversation. Well, all I’m saying, we are dealing with the same level of dictator as Chernenko was, that Putin is.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

He’s isolated. I know people maybe weren’t watching. He gathered his [inaudible 00:38:11], pretty much a war council, and he made them where he’s accompanied in this crime. They had to go, everyone, on stage, and they said in the camera that they support all of his motions. This is what Stalin did, because when this documents, and Gorbachev talk about this when he read the documents. I’m not sure if Hitler did it, but Stalin did this. Let’s be honest. KGB is something was created in the Soviet Union, and still follows the same principle. So Putin really wanted to make everybody his accompanies in this crime to make sure it can get out.

Luis:

Yeah. So now- [crosstalk 00:38:49].

Rustam:

Yeah, go ahead.

Luis:

Okay. Yeah. So I think that this is a good place to wrap up so we can edit this fast and put it out there as it needs to be. We’ll keep you updated.

Rustam:

Let me add a couple of things to the closing remarks.

Luis:

Well, I know you’re doing regular updates, so we’re going to add links to your socials.

Rustam:

Yes. Another thing I would like to ask everyone, if you listening to this, you here, the best thing which you can do, spread the word. You need to become an activist. And we going to write, [inaudible 00:39:20] is going to write a piece about this, what it’s like to be an activist. Just have to be clear, being an activist, just putting I’m with Ukraine on your Facebook account, that’s all beautiful and great before the war starts. But if you really want to help, you have to go further. You need to donate money, and you need to shake your governments and institutions to actually do something about it. What you don’t realize, guys, is the war, what we having right now, the blitzkrieg, it’s exactly the same thing that Hitler was doing with Poland, and Polish people would understand this right now because we lived through this shit. There is no easy-peasy.

Luis:

Yeah. What you do is you call your representatives. That varies from country to country, from democratic system to democratic system, but if you look, you don’t even have to look that hard. You’ll find an email address, you’ll find a phone number that you can call to someone to whom you can make your concerns heard in your government. So it’s not that hard, and it makes much more difference. Not to say, feel free to put the Ukrainian flag in your Facebook profile. The Ukrainian flag will probably be on this podcast’s icon, but that’s not what makes the most difference. Right? Unless you have a big audience, which, in that case, posting matters, but what really makes a difference is calling your local politician.

Rustam:

That is very true. The time for diplomacy, calming the beast, is over. Right now is the time to tame the beast.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

And really put the actual security in Europe in place.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

Or the next episode is going to be in your local language, because Russia is not going to stop just in Ukraine.

Luis:

I think it’s time to wrap it up. Thank you so much, [Rustem 00:41:12]. Stay safe, keep your family safe, and keep us posted on your socials. We’re going to be following and boosting the signal.

Rustam:

[Portuguese 00:41:23], Luis.

Luis:

Yeah.

Rustam:

Thank you, Luis.

Luis:

Bye-bye.

Early in the morning, Russia launched a military operation over Ukraine, and according to authorities, more than 200 attacks have taken place in less than 24 hours.

During this special podcast episode, DistantJob´s VP of Operations, Rustam Ahverdiev shares his first-hand experience of the latest events and what he and other Ukrainians are currently going through.

Episode Highlights:

  • What’s going on in Ukraine?
  • What the Russian-Ukraine conflict is about
  • How is it affecting people working and living in Ukraine
  • Insights about how these past days have been in the country
  • How to support Ukrainians during these times

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