Looking back over the past ten years, I can't even begin to describe all the experiences I've had in Ukraine.
For a while, I actually owned a business based here. I've been travelling here frequently for years. I still have many friends here. Some of our employees are based here. And Kiev is one of the cities in the world that I know best.
Yet even after all of that, I still can't make heads or tails of this place.
Consider this: by 2004, people in Ukraine were desperate from economic hardship and de facto mafia rule.
They held a runoff election in November of that year-- an illusion of choice-- between Viktor Yanukovich and Viktor Yushenko. Yushenko was viewed as the breath of fresh air. The 'change' candidate.
And when it became clear that Yanukovich had rigged the election in his favor, people went out into the streets to demand change.
They called it the Orange Revolution. And it ended after two months of bloodshed when Yushenko, the 'good guy' was finally sworn in as president. Happy days were to follow. Hope and change, all that jazz.
Fast forward a few years.
By 2010, Yushenko had proven himself to be an utter disappointment. Corrupt. Incompetent. Out of touch. When he ran for re-election that year, President Yushenko garnered a pitiful 5% of the vote.
This is amazing when you think about it: the candidate that the people of Ukraine went out into the streets and spilled their blood for received just 5% of the votes in his re-election.
So who did the people elect that year? Viktor Yanukovich... the very person they had fought against in 2005.
Yanukovich was a known criminal. Literally, a convicted felon. Ukrainians spilled their blood fighting against him in 2004... then elected him President in 2010.
Unsurprisingly Mr. Yanukovich spent the next several years pillaging the country of every possible resource for his own benefit. And a few years later-- revolution #2.
People went back out in the streets to fight against government forces and oust Yanukovich. Since then, the currency has tanked. Banks are nearly insolvent. GDP is falling. And there's insurrection in the East.
Now they have a new President-- a chocolate billionaire who formerly sat on the executive council of the Ukrainian central bank. And he's mobilizing the entire country to fight the rebels, fight the Russians.
People are forced into serving in the very same government forces they were fighting against just months ago, all to re-annex a region of the country that isn't even of Ukrainian ethnicity.
The entire world is getting involved now. With the downing of MH-17, it has become impossible to stay neutral... and the US in particular is doing everything it can to escalate the situation.
Actions have consequences.
And just as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand 100 years ago led politicians to make a series of pitiful, short-sighted decisions that led the world into the most destructive war it had ever seen, today's 'leaders' are raising the stakes towards an even more destructive kind of war.
This new kind of war is fought with bits and bonds rather than steel. But it's one that affects almost everyone on the planet.
Change is very clearly afoot. And it's time to start paying very close attention to the canary in the coalmine.
Just as I was in Iraq a few weeks ago to see the ISIS mess for myself, I had to come back to Ukraine and see what's happening with my own eyes.
Join me in our newest podcast episode to explore this further-- what to watch out for, how it may unfold, and what you can do about it: