Sometimes an image says more than words ever can. I rarely write anything around politics – the subject bores many, often creates strong arguments and is generally best to avoid in business. I hope you will indulge me for this one-off.

But it is very difficult to ignore what is going on right now in front of our eyes in Ukraine. Of course, in our lifetime there have been many regional wars with attendant atrocities. Many are ongoing. But the events of the last two weeks feels very different – not because it is in Europe, but because the Russian invasion is based completely on a number of false pretexts that Putin and his cohorts have flagrantly ignored all international laws – especially those conventions regarding the conduct of war. He is effectively writing his own rule book.

Now, according to the UN, there are 2 million+ people who have fled Ukraine. It is (another) genuine humanitarian disaster. And it will affect everyone in some way. The Aviation and Travel Retail sectors will not remain untouched.

This war is largely a direct extension of a continuing problem. It centres on global freedom and, according to the ‘Freedom in the World Survey for 2022’ by Freedom House, the aggregate has fallen for 16 years in a row. ”Freedom has declined not just because of the rise of authoritarian powers such as Russia and China, but also because of the turn towards populism, illiberalism and nationalism within long-standing democracies such as the US and India”. Globally freedom and democracy – in the true sense of the word ‘democracy’ – are under threat. The recent China/Russia pact must be regarded with real concern – politically, militarily and economically.

A friend of mine recently sent me an email: ”Russian linguists say that ‘Paskudnyak’ is ”the most potent and offensive insult known to man”. So, with cluster bombs, shattered hospitals, schools, apartments, (historical buildings and the unrelenting bombing and killing of completely innocent people), it would seem that Putin has now earned the title of Paskudnyak. This will accompany him as long as there are historians to record the deeds of despots, dictators and war criminals. Unlike Stalin, whose deliberate famine in Ukraine starved 3.9 million to death far from the prying eyes of an indifferent world, Putin’s actions are being caught on every smartphone and being transmitted around the world. No matter how much his collaborators try, no matter how much propaganda his state-controlled media produces, there will be no denying the actions of this man”.

Many countries and businesses are supporting Ukraine in different ways – whether through supplying defence systems or through oil, gas or commercial disengagement as we all have read. But there will be no direct military intervention for fear of escalating the war. The fate of Ukraine – at least in the short term and unless there is a meaningful (though doubtful) breakthrough in the next peace talks scheduled in Antalya, Turkey on March 10th – looks perilous.

But there is something that many in travel retail can also do, and this stems from an excellent initiative from The Moodie Davitt Report. They have just announced a new publication – Travel Retail United – which is exclusively dedicated to fundraise and help provide emergency relief for the displaced women and families of Ukraine. All revenues will go to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal in association with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and Care International.

According to Moodie Davitt: ”This digital publication is strictly humanitarian and not political in nature at all. All content will reflect that fact. Donations will help families living as refugees with food, water, hygiene items and other vital supplies.

”Instead of traditional advertising, publication partners are being asked to provide an image (photo, painting or drawing) or a piece of writing (poem, excerpt or original message) that expresses a theme of humanitarianism or peace. There is no fixed price for any advertisement, but we recommend a minimum of US$300 – 500”.  Moodie Davitt will also be making a substantial cash donation and they are also absorbing all editorial, production and distribution costs. ”Every cent raised will go to the fund”.

It is a more than worthy cause which has my wholehearted support. It is the hope of the Moodie Davitt Report Founder and Chairman, Martin Moodie, that their contribution will help alleviate the suffering in Ukraine and that ”we will earn the support of individuals and companies in the global travel retail community”.

We should all help in some way.

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Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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