We thought we’d share an internal view by one of our colleagues about what is going on in the Ukraine.
As you may know, our team is a bit like a little ‘United Nations’ – a diversity that allows us to see things from the ground, through the eyes of locals.
On many occasions, being on the ground has given us an edge. When Kenya had it’s moments of political turbulence, we could tap in to our own local perception or when Dubai went through its financial challenges, being there helped us stay focused on the facts that really mattered. But what truly made us understand the value of being local is our presence in Egypt. It allowed us to see through the ‘smoke screen’ of popular media and helped us to make better investment decisions.
Although we are based in different locations across our investment territory, it doesn’t keep us from being in constant contact with each other. There are always insightful email discussions that ‘snowball’ though our organisation and compound our insights on key developments and trends. It is the sum of these diverse perspectives that shapes our world view and defines what we are all about.
What we are sharing with you here is a comment written a couple of days ago by Jamil Akhundov, one of our colleagues who has a close personal connection with the Ukraine.
“The situation in Ukraine is really troubling. Because I have relatives from the Ukraine, we have been following the escalating crisis very closely, especially over the last 2-3 months.
Below are some of my observations:
We were watching the media and it was interesting to see the same story interpreted from different angles:
The Western media perspective: traditionally supporting the “Euromaidan” movement, which “stood up to the tyranny of a dictator and enemies of freedom” while the president was on the run.
The Russian media perspective: Quick to identify the “thugs” and nationalists which overthrew a democratically elected president, while the Russian ethnic minority needs to be protected from fanatics and nationalists financed by the
The Western Ukrainian media: overall disappointment with the corrupt and inefficient government and perception of Russia as trying to create a divide and split the country up.
I have spoken with many Ukrainians and have been to the country many times, I have seen people increasingly angry with their government. People simply wanted a fairer society with opportunities, less corruption and more prosperity, but each new government ended up being worse than the previous.
Finally, the people had enough, took to the street, fought and spilt blood in protest. And now that the goal has been achieved, the ‘old master’ is quick to stir up trouble and impose control with brutal force.
One sad part of the story is also now unfolding. Like with Georgia and Moldova some years ago, it is now becoming clear that the West is not going to provide real help to the Ukrainians. Although the Ukrainians spelt blood and fought hard for the European and Western values, it seems like Ukraine cares about the West more that the West does about Ukraine.
At this stage it is hard to make any predictions. However, it seems like for Ukrainian people things will get harder economically and politically before they can get better. In my opinion, the reasons for a Russian invasion are to simply show its power in the region and make sure that any new government in Kiev will need to “consult” with Moscow on all aspects.
I do not think in the Russians will stay in the Crimea for long, but before leaving they will take serious concessions such as exclusive rights over gas pipelines, Russian minority participation in the government and high gas prices. In addition, I also think politically Ukraine is going to experience some volatility.
In this current moment, it is therefore very important for the West to support Ukraine financially and politically. If a stable government is established under a strong leader, in the longer term, I think Ukraine could recover rapidly and become one of the fastest growing economies, because it has some unbelievably strong assets, including educated workforce, the largest by territory country in Europe, access to the Sea, one of the most arable lands, strong diaspora across the world, rich natural resources, geographic location and beautiful tourist destinations.
I hope this happens sooner than later.”