A month in Ukraine in war – media coverage.

Ukraine journey publicity round up

I spent November 2022 in Ukraine to show solidarity, and see my friends, see for myself what was happening, and to tell people outside what it was really like. I travelled to and across central and south Ukraine to Zaporizhzhia and later Odesa. With thanks to the media who have let me tell the story of my independent visit, so that they can share with their listeners and readers direct factual information. Here is a round up of the media coverage. Feel free to look at any of the links just so that they get more ‘hits’. I remain in touch with friends regularly and with developments every day.

Links here, more on each below.

1. BBC Radio Merseyside, Tuesday 22 November. A ten minute long interview about the situation in Zaporizhzhia during the war. File attached with thanks to producer Leanne Harper.


[I am having difficulty uploading the audio file and will try again – for now here is a link to the file on YouTube]

2. British Liberal magazine, Liberator.

My article on being in Ukraine, with some more political content than in my social media posts: Liberator 415, 4 December 2022, at pages 12 – 14 https://liberatormagazine.org.uk/back-issues/

(click on the 415 icon to download) *

3. The Liverpool Echo, Sunday 18 December 2022. Ukrainians ‘always happy’ to speak to Scouser in Odesa about two things https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/ukrainians-always-happy-speak-scouser-25762505

As I said to friend James on Twitter, and others ..  Of course everyone knows I can’t actually claim to be a Scouser (though I was born in the Liverpool district of Walton 🙂 ). Note, 3/03/23. You can tell I was flustered the morning after I arrived in Odesa (in a blackout) as in the voice update I recorded – which the Echo reporter used – I kept calling the Eurovision song contest, ‘the European song contest’. I wasn’t used to the noise of generators then either which were going in the background. I’ve always argued that Odessa is the best Ukrainian city to host the Eurovision song contest (except the airport was too small before the Russians blew it up).

4. The Law Society Gazette, 6 January 2023 ‘Advice in conflict’.

The magazine of the Law Society of England & Wales published a feature interviewing Ukrainian lawyers, and me also. They make me sound a bit more dashing than I was in fact.


This is a good long read about how Ukrainian lawyers are coping during the war and helping defeat the Russian invasion.

5 The Deerfield Valley News, Wilmington, Vermont, USA. ‘On the road to Ukraine: Trying to maintain normalcy’, front page article 5 January 2023.

https://www.dvalnews.com/news/road-ukraine-trying-maintain-normalcy (subscription required).

Acknowledgments & background

1. BBC Radio Merseyside is the station for the Liverpool city region & one of the most listened to stations in the UK. This was broadcast at approx. 07:05 UK time one hour into the programme.

With thanks to Paul Salt and producer Leanne Harper. Knowing my experience in Ukraine Radio Merseyside wanted to interview me early in the war which I couldn’t do as I was working in a politically sensitive diplomatic job in the Balkans. So I missed talking when towns I knew were occupied, places I lived in bombed (Chernihiv, Odesa), cities I knew, Kyiv, Kkarkiv, & even the University halls where I usually stay hit in a Russian attack. The picture on the file (so I can upload the audio as a video) is President Zelenskyy’s nightly address in between the Schwarzenegger movie on one of my first nights in Zaporizhzhia (glitzy wallpaper). The conversion via the free service of https://voice2v.com/ On You Tube the thumbnail is with volunteers at World Central Kitchen in the city.

2. Liberator magazine. * Also see issue 412 (April) for my original 2019 article on the election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which was reprinted there, with some updated commentary. ‘Ukraine’s comedian president is no comic’. Pages 6-7, & see commentary pages 8 – 9.  https://liberatormagazine.org.uk/back-issues/

I also commissioned the article on the language question in Ukraine by lawyers Iryna Barlit and Vladyslav Bandrovsky, in issue 413 (June) ‘Speak as you like’, where in answering my questions the authors explain how propaganda of discrimination against Russian speakers is an invented grievance, not matched by experience.

3. Thanks to the Liverpool Echo & reporter Paddy Edrich for helping publicise what it is really like in Ukraine. Being from UK & Liverpool is popular 😊. Paddy crafted a balanced article from an audio recording I made in Odesa and our correspondence on Twitter, giving some exclusive insights for the Echo including my meeting British and American volunteers fighting with the Ukrainians. A shame I was in the city at the same time as Times correspondent and school friend Richard Lloyd Parry but we didn’t manage to meet. Richard went to the front lines to get his copy – I did not.

Only one funny thing slipped in the edit somewhere. One picture is from Zaporizhzhia, not Odesa. That is no different as you can see pictures the same of damage to civilian homes anywhere in Ukraine, it is typical. While the second to last quote which looks like it is from me is from President Zelenskyy from his nightly address after the then most recent missile attacks against civilian energy infrastructure, just after I left the city. **

4. The cover story of January’s Law Society Gazette (the magazine of the Law Society of England & Wales, professional body for solicitors). The feature by Eduardo Reyes, interviewing Ukrainian lawyers, also includes my observations after my 4000km (2500 mile) driving round trip & a month in Ukraine, 3 weeks in Zaporizhzhia, on the effect of the war there: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/features/advice-in-conflict-/5114716.article

Eduardo is an old friend from Liberal Democrat Youth & Student days in the mid 1990s.

5. The Deerfield Valley News, of Wilmington, Vermont.


The News Editor, Michael Eldred, is an election observer colleague and friend, from meeting in North Macedonia. Michael is also a former US serviceman – early warning station operator! The newspaper is available only to subscribers but for the week of publication viewers could a preview of the article on the front page, including a nice picture with volunteers at the World Central Kitchen public restaurant at Beluga restaurant bar in Zaporizhzhia.

** I explained on Facebook. The photo of missile damage is actually in Zaporizhzhia (a destroyed car showroom and all windows blown out in an apartment block next to where my friends live, and used to live). Civilian blocks had had their windows blown in by Russian missiles next to where I was staying, and where I used to visit, and stay. One glitch in the edit, the second to last quote in the Echo article you will guess is actually from President Zelenskyy’s nightly address, when the electricity in Odesa was totally off for days after the huge Russian missile strike on the power infrastructure, just a few days after I was in the city.

Final note.

Telling people what the country is really like (positive and negative) is what I have done during my regular visits to volunteer & professionally since first visiting in May 2014. I know the Russian propaganda is untrue as I worked in Ukraine many times since 2014. The people are united in these times.

Sad to be leaving Ukraine after nearly one month. I also met some of the men defending freedom against barbarism. Men I am proud to have met and look forward to meeting again.

Written in Odessa, 1 December. Sad to be leaving Ukraine after nearly one month, & not to be staying longer in Odessa. 3 weeks in Zaporizhzhia, two days in Odessa & in some other towns. The Ukrainian border guards & security services were polite, professional & very attentive. No imposters will pass here. I met in Odessa election observer mission colleagues & friends from 2015. And new friends, Ukrainian and foreign volunteers fighting for Ukraine, freedom & democracy. From America, Britain, Germany, Poland. A great bunch of men, highly professional, modest and fun. A privilege to be invited to spend time with such good people. I will be happy to tell families in Grimsby and Middlesbrough that their guys are ok (& Chicago, Kansas & Texas). For Ukraine’s victory.

Reposted here, from Bucharest, 3 December.

Postscript. Leaving Ukraine and Moldova turned out to be a lot harder than entering had been. Very thorough checks and long delays at each point. Having crossed so many borders in the last year I think I am quite an expert on border traffic management now. I will write more opinion on that anon. I remain very sorry for the lorry drivers stuck in a 8km queue to get from Moldova to Romania. As I crossed from Moldova into Romania, so the boundary of the old Soviet Union / Russian Empire the border policeman asked “You were in Ukraine. Did you have business in Ukraine?” I said, no I am a volunteer University professor and I was visiting friends. He said “I understand”. Finally, after a month, with the exception of my friends in Zaporizhzia and the volunteer soldiers who thought wanting to go to and being in Ukraine was normal, the first person who seemed to understand me was a Romanian border police officer :-).

Resignation from the OSCE – entry into Ukraine.

I have resigned from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Mission to Serbia so that I can speak & act freely against Putin Russia’s war in Ukraine, without the constraints of working in an international diplomatic organisation

And my friends, family & colleagues know that I am not very good at speaking diplomatically anyway. Russia is destroying the values of peace, stability, security, democracy & economic progress on which the OSCE is based.

I have this morning [today] crossed into Ukraine to go and see my friends. I won’t see all of my friends this trip but delayed birthday drinks (from the Summer) with some of them. And as usual if anyone wants to practice English I’m happy to talk. I’m the British guy from Liverpool with an Irish name driving a Serbian car

My visit is for solidarity. I have no time for anyone’s nationalism or national myths or ideology (or God/s given ethnic land) but I do care that people should be able to freely choose how to live their lives without being invaded by a brutal tinpot dictator.

Stopping the war, defeating Russia and its allies, is the most important thing in Europe now. It is necessary so that the democratic & whole World can face the giant challenges of environmental problems, food security and livelihoods for all that we must solve

So F*ck Putin I’m going to have a beer with my friends

Posted on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Monday 7 November, Posted here, Wednesday 16 November from Zaporizhzhia, where I arrived on Tuesday 8 November.

I am posting impressions from my visit to Ukraine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Some pictures from my current work

More self publicity (X3), a lot less serious than the War, but for people who know me who want to see what I’m up to (when not photographed in bars, and in reality not spending hours on Zoom meetings or administration):

This youth group in Preševo (a small mostly Albanian populated town in the very south of Serbia) are one I promote a lot. I feature in couple of pictures on their new website with our OSCE Mission to Serbia Ambassador. https://livrit.org/

Also in one picture currently on the front page of the Mission website at present from the rural municipality of Medvedja, the day the war started. https://www.osce.org/mission-to-serbia/513268

Not quite the lead story 😉 – It is one of the 24 scrolling photos on the front page at present, three of which are from my town (one of the others features my colleague Iljasa, translating at a press conference, on the left) https://www.osce.org/mission-to-serbia

Finally, there’s a bad but funny photo of me on this nice story (in Serbian Cyrillic) about interns Arbnor and Aulona from this region that OSCE arranged to be placed with the official Government Coordination Body that is responsible for liaison between Belgrade and local Municipalities here.
My sister made a very funny comment: “I approve of the Ukrainian colours Kiron, but otherwise that tie is somewhat bizarre. A 1970s throwback.”

The election of President Zelenskyy in 2019.

Small British Liberal political magazine Liberator republished the article I wrote in 2019 about President Zelenskyy’s victory that I had forgotten that I wrote. The pdf of the magazine, Liberator issue 412 can be downloaded here

The blurb says
Liberator 412 can be downloaded here . This is the April 2022 online-only edition of Liberator and we hope you enjoy reading it.
What’s inside this issue?
Alongside Radical Bulletin, Commentary and Letters, Liberator 412 includes:
Kiron Reid saw great hope on democracy’s eastern border in Ukraine when this article was published in Liberator 398 in November 2019 after the election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy as president. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we reprint it here, followed by some necessarily anonymous reflections on Ukraine now and the path to war from an observer who knows the country well

Reviewing this in 2022 I think that nearly every point is still valid. I could have made more critical comment on Volodymyr Zelenskyy (and in the last year too), and on his predecessor, who I like, Petro Poroshenko (I always buy his Roshen brand chocolates), and I could then & would now explain more problems with the inflexible EU trade policy towards Ukraine’s links with Russia (especially in the east) and a misguided nationalist language policy (which is getting to be quite a national myth now – ignoring that most people Russia is killing are Russian speakers). None of those points undermine the fundamental issue – that Russia invaded Ukraine unprovoked in 2014 and is carrying on unprovoked a barbaric war in 2022. In 2022. In Europe.


Note the original post of a text of this article, including photographs, is here: My article on the Ukraine elections, and new President, Zelenskyi. – Kiron Reid 

My latest short visit to Ukraine & election observation work.

What I was doing last week.
My 11th election observation mission for OSCE / ODIHR on behalf of the UK FCO observing elections in the Balkans & former Soviet Union. Deployed by David Kidger of SOLACE Enterprises as Short Term Observer (STO), and SOLACE / Godfrey Cromwell of BEWC as Long Term Observer (LTO), since February 2007. This time deployed as a Short Term Observer to Lviv. I observed the Parliamentary election with my partner and our local staff in the Peremyshlyani district, south of Lviv.

My 8th visit to Ukraine since 2014, as election observer & / or University volunteer, and occasional tourist, working in my 5th region of the 7 I’ve visited (& many regional level cities, numerous towns and villages).

The OSCE election observation mission final report will be published in a couple of months but it is reasonable to say, from the Preliminary Statement, that people in Ukraine were freely able to vote for who they wanted to, in an election which was largely very professionally run by the many people administering it.

More information on the mission to observe the Parliamentary elections in Ukraine can be found here: https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/ukraine/422585

OSCE /ODIHR Election Observation Mission to the Early Parliamentary Elections, 21 July 2019.

The demolition of the Coach House at 23 Aigburth Road, Liverpool (El Chocon)

(Destruction of) Local history, corner. In July I was horrified that the demolition of the only surviving historic building on the north east side of Aigburth Road was allowed. This is an area historically of large Victorian houses, with terraced streets opposite. At the back of one of the few remaining Victorian villas was a period old coach house, full of character. It was demolished on behalf of the Vinco Group property developers, with the permission of Liverpool City Council – the planning officers of Liverpool City Council recommended allowing it – and no objection from the country’s official conservation body, English Heritage. A ‘historic buildings adviser’ Peter de Figueiredo wrote the report in favour of demolition of this historic building. Local councillors made no representations, and only 5 local residents did (all objecting to the large scale development of the site). I suspect that virtually no resident of the Aigburth Road area had any idea that this vandalism was being proposed and would be waved through by the City Council, backed by a ‘heritage expert’ for hire, acquiesced at by the body supposed to protect England’s heritage. So that one of the few historic buildings in what is supposed to be a conservation area is now gone.

One resident objected to the proposed flats on the basis that they would be five storey in height, out of keeping with anything else in the area. That is correct and it is not considered in the Planning report at all. That could be because the planned block of flats on Aigburth Road was reduced in height (according to Figueiredo’s report) in a revised application “following discussions with the Council and Historic England.” The planning officials adopt a line of Historic England (did they used to be English Heritage?) “the location of the new building means that it will be read in the context of the surrounding modern structures, rather than the historic development along Alexandra Drive.” What this bizarrely points out is that demolishing an historic building (albeit one altered and with few original indoor features) will mean the new building will be read (on that side of the main road) in the context of other modern buildings. The fact the historic building was a feature and part of the cityscape seems lost on the heritage officials. My usual view that those tasked with conserving and celebrating Britain’s heritage care mostly about the large and very old, rather than smaller and newer or industrial, is reinforced. And that planning laws about conservation can usually be overcome if the developer and development is large enough, but not as often when commonsense is asked for in relation to individuals genuinely trying to do their best.

Culture days in Britain Summer 2018. Long report.

Culture days in Britain Summer 2018.


I don’t usually write about culture on this website. But this Summer in Britain I’ve visited by chance or design several exhibitions that have been really impressive. The Grayson Perry exhibition in Bristol, Tolkien in Oxford, the Singh Twins in Wolverhampton, and Japanese culture in Cardiff have been highlights. I didn’t think I would enjoy the Grayson Perry but I really did. It is very impressive. And very similar but very different was the Singh Twins’ banners that I saw in Wolverhampton. Highly important series of works by the three artists. While the Kizuna (friendship) exhibition in Wales and the Chinese warriors in Liverpool brought these sometimes very familiar seeming Eastern cultures closer to us. Well done to all involved. And if you have a day off, or a free afternoon think about going to one of your local galleries or museums or take a bus or a train to the next town or city and you will usually find something that interests you.


Longer musings follow but that short review is what I really wanted to say.


Culture days in Britain Summer 2018. Long report.


Long report.


I don’t usually write about culture. It is only as an advancing adult that I’ve made much of an effort when holidaying or working abroad to see at least one or two cultural things. A museum or two, a gallery, maybe two; I’ve quite gone off castles due to too much tragic or pathetic history but often a castle or two as well as they happen to be there. Normally I still love my European (city) breaks where you just soak up the atmosphere of the wonderful Hapsburg historic squares and the cityscapes. In Porto, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya / Zaporizhia, Vasilivka (Ukraine – definitely not Hapsburg), Alicante, Villajoyosa I’ve visited various great museums or displays in the first half of this year and seen some impressive cultural celebrations. In Britain I’ve made a little bit of effort when in a new town or city, or on a short trip, to see some cultural sites. It took me a few years to realise this was a good way to make sure when you went somewhere you actually saw some of the town, and got a break from the bubble of political conferences, which I never did at political or academic conferences when I was younger and concentrated on being seen and drinking in the bar(s). Also a useful break from the drinking.


This Summer, 2018, I happen more by chance than design to have called in to several excellent exhibitions in Britain. In late June in Bristol I decided to call in to the Grayson Perry exhibition at the City Art Gallery, largely because I thought I should. I didn’t think I would enjoy it and I really did. I was very glad I walked in and paid the reasonable fee. One large busy room with fantastic banners. Insightful, full of imagery of modern Britain. Very deservedly highly important art of modern times. A week later in Oxford it was the small packed Tolkien exhibition at the Weston wing of the Bodleian library. Lots of interesting detail that I didn’t know, and classic illustrations. Next door in the ‘Treasures’ collection or ‘Treasury’ room I was able to see a copy of the Georgian epic tale ‘the Knight in the Panther’s Skin’ by Shota Rustaveli. Plus some of the translation notes by Marjory Wardrop – this remarkable woman being why the illustrated manuscript was placed in a celebration of remarkable women. Back in Liverpool, it was the Terracotta warriors. An incredibly packed exhibition (packed with people), a dozen figures – enough to make an impact – many artefacts, animation (by my friends at Draw and Code) and useful illustration and interpretation. Unlike most historical displays I see there was enough detail and factual information, although much of course was speculation. Grayson Perry (‘the Vanity of Small Differences’ tapestries), Tolkien, the Knight in the Panther’s Skin, Chinese men. This write up was going to end there but since then I’ve been for the first time to Wolverhampton. I stopped in Wolverhampton specifically to see the Singh Twins exhibition ‘Slaves of Fashion’ that I missed in Liverpool. I was very glad I did. The exhibition – large banners like the Grayson Perry – is like the Grayson Perry rich in colour, interesting details, thought provoking (I can also use the over used word challenging), and has impact. One large room with the electronic hangings and two side rooms with connected exhibits from the Wolverhampton Gallery and from National Museums Liverpool, and the story of how the artworks are made. That shows the work and thinking that has gone in to create these pieces which like the Perry are of great importance for 21Century art in Britain, and a real contribution of British (and Indian) art to the World.


I stopped in Wolverhampton en route to Cardiff where I found a city hosting a National Eisteddfod. (A celebration of the culture and language in Wales). With my father-in-law, bookseller Nick, we took in some of the atmosphere of the stands and exhibitions there and then went to see the Kizuna exhibition on Japanese culture and Wales. There are banners proclaiming KIZUNA all around the city centre but I had no idea what this meant. It means bonds of friendship, and the interesting display, two parts in one long room, charts the history of connections between Japan and Wales which is longer than you might think. 50 Japanese companies employ over 5,000 people in Wales. Many antique, some very historic, and modern pieces of Japanese culture, design and technology are on display. A Japanese lacquered coffer (chest) has been at Chirk Castle on the North Welsh border for four hundred years, while 50 Japanese companies employ over 5,000 people in Wales today. Another first for me on this trip was a first actual day out in Swansea. On probably the wettest day of the Summer I had an interesting walk through the different ages of town centre and dock / river front regeneration, and got to the Egypt Centre at Swansea University (a couple of miles from the city centre) this time. So several other cultural locations to see on a future visit.


There is so much on in Britain each Summer now that you can experience high quality culture everywhere. You could watch theatre, outdoor and amateur Shakespeare every night and multiple times at the weekends. As I’ve spent much of the Summer at home I’ve enjoyed seeing the great numbers of tourists. Foreign visitors from all around the World taking advantage of the weak pound perhaps to enjoy a trip to Britain. It’s great to see them here. As local residents in a town we often don’t see the things the tourists do, this is a reminder to also be a tourist in your own town from time to time. Or visit the next one.


I went to the Tolkien and the Terracotta Warriors with Frances and Judy respectively, and the Japanese displays with Nick. These are my views but they were also very impressed by these exhibitions. My father was fascinated with China (and ancient Egypt). My sister has awed us with her story of seeing the Terracotta Warriors at Xian in China in 2000. And she brought back mini clay figures for each of us that were a rare site in Britain then. Seeing the figures in my home city was a nice way to see a small party of the immense culture of China.


The Japan (Kizuna) exhibition in Cardiff is on until 9 September.

The China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors in Liverpool until 28 October.

The Singh Twins’ Slaves of Fashion at Wolverhampton until 16 September.

advice for connecting with me on LinkedIn and any social media.

Especially advice for former students (UK / Ukraine), graduates including friends – wanting to connect online.

If you want to sign me up as a contact on LinkedIn send me a personal message so I know it is you signing me up, not an automatic sweeping of your address book. Send me a link in the app / site if it lets you, or an email. The same applies to friend requests on Facebook. And yes I apply this even to the good friends from the Liverpool Uni Law School who send me requests as I do to students and graduates from other places I’ve been.
The same for people wanting to connect for professional reasons – if I don’t know you I am not likely to accept a request unless I know it is a genuine personal and professionally interested approach. It’s so I can keep tabs on LinkedIn and keep this account professional, and try and manage the volume on Facebook (after many of us get carried away with signing up lots of people early on). Thanks. This is another reminder, to add to the section on my LinkedIn profile – though it is right at the bottom and I need to do more work on the profile being more concise 🙂