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Count upon Sir Richard Branson, Britain’s successful entrepreneurial buccaneer of almost everything, to be on the cutting edge. but what, pray tell, is one to glean from Sir Richard’s choice of attire? Has “MM” on the back…..richard_branson

“MM”?? What’s this about?

Many might think first of Mars Candies, “M&Ms”, the colorful, tasty drops of chocolate covered with a colorful glaze. But now, the ampersand is absent. Sir Richard’s all about something else.

piano photo

Recognize the scene? The Maidan Square, the heart of Kiev, Ukraine.

The pianist seated at the piano (painted in the colors of the Ukranian flag) is young Mr. Markiyan Matsekh, a budding Ukrainian pianist.

In his own brave, powerful way, he’s demonstrating both to the riot police and his Nation that Ukraine deserves to be free to set her own course, join the free world, align with the European Union and, finally, return to civilizational sanity.

Mr. Matsekh proposes to do this peacefully, likely knowing full well that when set against Russia’s 270,000-strong Army, possessing the most modern firepower available, Ukraine is, frankly, only a bit more competent than the pocket nation which Peter Sellers led in “The Mouse That Roared”.

Ukraine’s armed forces, ill-equipped, under-trained and lacking funds, arms, ammo, etc., amounts to only 77,000 troops. The debacle of any “engagement” is made worse by orientation. All Ukraine’s forces are positioned in the West, as if to blunt an attack from NATO, rather than in the East, facing Russia.


Have a look at this video.

When Ukraine’s young interim Prime Minister urgently traveled to Washington to meet the American president, who had promised in advance that the American Nation was, indeed, Ukraine’s ally, no doubt his hopes were high.

Amongst Allies, words do mean something, after all, right?

Apart from his quick meeting with Mr. Obama and the usual photo-op (two leaders seated in front of a White House fireplace), in the end Mr. Obama offered only words, tea, sympathy, and, oh yes!! “MREs” or “freeze-dried meals” (known to U.S. troops not as “Meals Ready-to-Eat”, as branded, but “Meals Refused by Ethiopians”).


Firepower? No. Ammo? No. Logistical or communications equipment, battlefield vehicles, training, etc.? No. Tick the box for “None of the above”.

Instead, MREs.

Another lesson to the Ukrainian people. Look eastwards to the Russian bear about to devour chunks, if not all, of your Nation and thereby recreating the “glory”, as Putin sees it, of the Soviet Union.

During World War II, the bloodthirsty Russian supremo Joseph Stalin permitted his troops to trample Ukrainians in the most brutal fashions imaginable.

One Spring morning, amidst the piles of dead peasants at the Kharkiv Market, an infant suckled the breast of its mother, whose face was a lifeless grey. Passersby had seen this before….that precise scene, the tiny mouth, the last drops of milk, the cold nipple. The Ukrainians had a term for this. They said to themselves, quietly as they passed: “These are the buds of Socialist Spring”.

That was then. Today, Ukrainians look West and see the promise of pre-packaged disrespect: MREs.

Likely the young Ukrainian Premier spent some time on his flight back home leafing through the most up-to-date Ukrainian-American English dictionary for the meaning of “ally”, “friend”, “stalwart”, “dependable”, “credible”, or for starters.

Or, perhaps he sought the solace in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and smiled bitterly when he read the Mad Hatter’s comment: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.”

Is Hatter’s world so far removed from that facing Ukraine after what was, in truth, primarily a “photo-op” in Washington?

In an effort to enlighten the world about the depth and breadth of what the ordinary Ukrainian faces, intrepid volunteers gathered together the remains of this historic stance on the Maidan loaded it up and trucked it all the way to Vienna, and into a powerful exhibition now on display at Vienna’s “Kuenstlerhaus Wien”. The title of the exhibition? “I Am a Drop in the Ocean.”

Back in Ukraine, however, the situation becomes ever more dire by the day.

When young Mr. Matsekh played in Maidan Square, I’m aware that amongst his recital pieces were choices from another great European who knew “suffering”, though mostly self-imposed and absent the harsh future facing Ukrainians, or if the Western “leaders” continue to confuse condemnations with facts-on-the-ground.

Perhaps the West’s “plan” is to adopt a ferocious blitz (“lightning” in German) of written and spoken “condemnations”, a furious shaking of the heads, but while hands are firmly stuck in their pockets. Meanwhile, the new Tsar’s armies will effect a blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) against such sitting ducks.

The German “Sprichwort” (proverb) “Man denkt, Gott lenkt” comes to mind: “Man proposes, God disposes”.

From where I sit, American abdication leads to provocation and predictable results.

When the Pole Frédéric Chopin composed his Prelude, Opus 28, Number 4, he did so while temporarily in residence at a monastery in sunny Majorca in the Balearic Islands off the south coast of Spain.

Despite the sunshine outside, Opus 28 is perhaps most notable, or to my mind, for Chopin’s own sense of huge, heavy despair.

In his own hand, Chopin’s last dynamic marking in this beautifully telling, intelligent but haunting piece is “Smorzando”, or “dying away” in Latin.

When I hear this piece now and hereafter, I shall ponder the noble niche of Christendom that has been Ukraine which, I fear, today is also “dying away”, and so unnecessarily so.

Prelude, Opus 28, Number 4

And the whole world is watching


Hat-tips to:

“The Wall Street Journal”      http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303603904579491433856069104

Kuenstlerhaus Wien, http://www.k-haus.at/  If you are in or can get to Vienna for this exhibition, you’ll also enjoy all their other exhibits. The Kuestlehaus is on Karlsplatz near the Ringstrasse and next to the Musikverein, one of the most glorious musical performance spaces on earth.

After the exhibition stroll or take a taxi to the ancient environs of the Goesserbierkeller, on the Graben, either for a restorative beer or their Wiener Schnitzel which my Bride declares to be “Vienna’s Best”.   http://www.goesser-bierklinik.at/