I worked for the Rubezhnoye Board & Packaging Factory between 2001 and 2013 on a variety of projects, including three major investment plans implementing world class technology. This involved heavy analysis, strategic planning, financial modeling and customer interviews and research all over Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other countries with some of the leading FMCG companies in the world, and in the region.
One project invoked marketing and sales restructuring for RKTK’s 60-strong sales and logistics department. For that project, I was in Rubezhnoye one week a month for 20 months. (Photos in a FB album).
Severodonesk is where we had our occasional bowling events for team building. If you ever want to try something unusual, do a long vodka dinner and then go bowling with Ukrainian, Russian and British engineers.
The plant owner, Gennadiy Minin, is one of the most brilliant engineers in the world in this sector. Russian by birth, he was setting up the plant in Rubezhnoye when the USSR broke up. He managed to finish the project under incredibly difficult circumstances and build it into one of the most modern plants in the sector, with three production sites, serving some of the most demanding clients in the world.
In all the years I’ve spent in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia since 1997, I have never heard anyone normal expressing the kind of garbage that got Ukraine occupied and partitioned in 2014 and now invaded.
This was nothing less than a criminal enterprise in 2014. Today it is magnified a thousandfold.
It is a total shame to see an “elected” leader take such a decision. The consequences of this will affect millions of Russians for long after Vladimir Putin is gone. As it will for millions of innocent Ukrainians.
The terrain here, by the way, is absolutely brutal for an invading army using conventional armored columns. It gets even worse in the spring with the rains and in the summer when the forest cover renews.
As with the German Army’s retreat from Greece in 1944, it is important to reflect that reaching your target is only half the battle. You have to occupy. And then you will eventually have to withdraw. That won’t be pretty.