Letters from Ukraine: 20/03/22

Corresponding from Krakow, on the route to Ukraine, George Gittoes shares reflections on fellow travellers and companions, and the work he and Hellen Rose are undertaking as artists entering a scene of conflict and violence.

We have arrived in Krakow and are already feeling the good vibes of the Polish people. On the plane from Frankfurt to Krakow an older lady, Helana, sat next to me. The coffee is not free on Lufthansa and she did not have a credit card – so, I naturally bought her the coffee with my card. She was an engineer, now retired, but her ambition as a child had been to be an artist. Helana was infinitely cultured in the old world sense. We chatted through the flight and I learnt a lot from her about this very old city, which was already a centre of trade and culture in the tenth century. By the end of the flight, she wanted to assist us in any way possible.

I have an Australian friend here, who runs and partially owns a coal mining company for coking coal, on the border. He had a chauffeur collect us from the airport . . . the driver’s name was Luka, and he was as affable and informative as can be. Again, we learnt a lot, and it will probably be Luka who takes us to the border where we hope to get a train to Kyiv. Yes, the trains are still running. All the trees and fields are grey and leafless, but the sky is blue and sunny – Luka tells us that in two weeks it will all be green and full of spring blooms. We look forward to experiencing that transformation in Kyiv.

If only China can be persuaded not to supply additional arms and finance to Russia this war will end quickly. We could see the end of it within just one month. But if China joins in as a full supporter of Russia, we will all be in for a terribly long and drawn out war that could expand. My hunch is that China will hold back, as it is not in their interest to become a pariah like Russia now is, and it would be very bad for their exports.

We feel we are meant to be here, and it is this kind of work we were designed for. 

Latest  /  Most Viewed  /  Related