"Then why save the pipes," Erica asks. Hmm. Good question! Save the pipes, freeze the people. A catch 22 Ukraine story.
I ask Vasyl, the regional manager for region 6, which includes my oblast, Lugansk, and also Khargiv oblast, about this. He says Ukraine goes through this crisis year after year after year.
On December 31 every year the government makes decisions about gas and oil and prices, and every year it's the same result. Vasyl thinks the government just wants to spoil the holidays that fill the calender in January, beginning with New Year's and orthodox Christmas. It's nothing new. It's the same old thing.
Are there any options? Vasyl says yes, and cites the example of the Baltic countries after gaining their independence. They invested in energy options and self-sufficiency. Why not Ukraine, then? Because of the relationship with Russia. It affects prices and availability. Russia is obsessed with the pipelines and wants to control them. They want to save the pipes for themselves.
Save the Pipes is a cause without a constituency.
All the people want is to be warm in winter, to be able to turn on the heat when the temperature drops to the point where schools and institutions have to be closed and you can't go to work.
Makes sense. But then, common sense is often in short supply when you need it the most. Maybe a common sense solution that meets the needs of the people is just a pipe dream afterall, as Vasyl thinks.
Nah, the Amerikankas say. It's just a matter of time. New leadership. Hope.
"To dream the impossible dream....to right the unrightable wrong....to reach the unreachable star....this is my quest," sings Don Quixote in "The Man from LaMancha," the musical version of Cervantes' novel.
The spirit of Don Quixote lives on in Ukraine, through the quest for adventure of its Peace Corps Volunteers. It might be the best thing we do.