Just too banal? Saab blogging in times of war!

Last Thursday the readers waited in vain! No new post went online, it stayed quiet on the blog. The Russian army launched its attack on the Ukrainian neighbor on Thursday night. The next morning it seemed too banal to write about Saab. As if nothing had happened. I took down the article scheduled for the morning. Talking about cars while Europeans are dying a few hundred kilometers away? I couldnt do that!

War in Ukraine

I was coldly surprised by Putin, although I had given him credit for a lot. But despite all the war rhetoric, I didn't expect aggression on this scale. A coup d'état in Kyiv and the installation of a government loyal to Russia seemed conceivable to me. About the complete annexation of the two “republics” that Putin had forcibly detached from Ukraine years earlier. But a big war?

The Russians seemed too intelligent for that

A little over 80 years ago, it was German tanks that rolled through Kyiv for the first time. Two battles, in 1941 and 43, were fought around the city, and both sides claimed more than 141.000 lives. I hoped after 80 years people would be wiser. But learning from the past seems impossible. We have no idea how many people will pay for the defense of Kyiv with their lives over the next few days and weeks.

In the days that followed, I was frustrated by the German government, which wanted to continue the appeasement of its predecessors. Looking the other way, like in Crimea, like in Syria and Libya. Do not leave your comfort zone at any price, because who will explain to the German voter when the heating stays cold and companies are at a standstill? The appeasement strategy was only buried on day 4 of Russia's war against Ukraine.

Due to considerable pressure from the allies

What is clear is that the war in Europe will change everything. He brings old issues back on the agenda that have been completely neglected. The naïve idea that a large industrial nation does not need a powerful army is history. As is the strategy of being able to trade with any system in the world and simply turning a blind eye to the partners' black pages.

War shows us limits. Ukraine is, in the cities, a highly modern and digital democracy. Their digital vulnerability is demonstrated by Russian attacks using wiper malware. Data is hacked, effectively erased and never recoverable. The damage is immeasurable and, should the state survive the war, almost impossible to repair. Digitization works and is useful – in an ideal world. But not with an envious neighbor who lets tanks roll flanked by digital attacks.

Saab scene in Ukraine

In Ukraine there is an active Saab scene - as well as in Russia. So far, vehicles from both nations have been seen parked peacefully next to each other at international meetings. How the whole Saab scene is transnational and peaceful. This has given me hope for the past 10 years since I've been writing the project. When nations that once stood against each other talk to each other and share their hobbies - like the enthusiasm for a brand like Saab - then that can only be a good thing. I thought to myself…

On YouTube you can find a Saab video that probably comes from Tschernihiv (Chernihiv). It shows a Saab meeting in the summer of 2021, and were it not for Ukrainian flags in the background, the film could have been set anywhere in Russia or Belarus.

The video shows young people just having fun with their cars and friends. Just like anywhere in the world. And only a few months later the idyll is over. It's war.


Chernihiv is currently east of the Russian army's corridor of entry towards Kyiv. The city is said to be an important base for the Ukrainian army, which does not make the situation any easier. I have no idea how the Saab community is doing there as heavy fighting was reported in the area today.

Are the people sitting in the bunker, are they still alive, are they on their way west? Maybe they're fighting the invaders, guns in hand? You have thoughts and worries - and you are there in spirit and heart.

I am touched by this war and my powerlessness bothers me. Nothing justifies a war. We should be intelligent enough to solve our problems in other ways. The fact that tanks are rolling towards Kyiv again after 80 years is a declaration of bankruptcy for our species. Because years ago there would have been dozens of ways to stop development.

Of course I will continue to write about Saab. Even in times of war (as well as times of pandemic) we all need a dose of normality and banality. Something that takes us away from our worries. Constant alarmism is not a solution. That's why there are more car stories, even if it's difficult for me at the moment. I would be happy if you also want to continue reading Saab.

28 thoughts on "Just too banal? Saab blogging in times of war!"

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    A big gamble

    Dear Tom,
    Without going into the topic again, I would like to express my thanks explicitly and exclusively - for the article itself and the platform that it offered to moved readers and also to the blogger himself in the course of the comments.

    A lot just had to come out. Thoughts, feelings, fears, personal concern. The comments are full to the brim and the topic is very emotional. It could have escalated here too. It's not, but it was a big gamble.

    Would the readers maintain good manners with each other? How wide, perhaps uncomfortable and radical, would the spectrum of opinion become? It's probably the biggest gamble this blog has ever taken. A war of life and death on the subject. It doesn't get more existential than that.

    I find the discussion in the comments surprisingly peaceful, informative and thought-provoking. It was good for me personally and I can read from the comments and thumbs that a majority of readers probably feel the same way.

    It was a gamble. Thank you for being aware of it. I think it was worth it.

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    Amazingly written. You're far closer to the situation than I am over in the UK currently, but this is a disaster for humankind altogether. As you say, old rules have been lost forever now and nothing can or will be the same again. I have many many readers of Saab vs Skepticism in both Russia and Ukraine and my thoughts of safety and peace are with them all

    Thanks for sharing this and let's hope out small Saab community can somehow provide some much needed normality in the coming days, weeks and years

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    Putin's test run

    @ F Weber. That's correct. Putin understood the annexation of Crimea as such. And that's right, it all started much earlier and you're always smarter afterwards...

    And yet I feel that the reluctance of the EU and NATO at the time was the right reaction. It was also a test run for “us” and even more, it was also a message.
    But Putin didn't understand them. On the other hand, many people in Russia, right down to the organs and the extended state leadership, do. According to the Russian interpretation, Crimea was a test run of how far NATO and EU interference in “internal affairs” would go. The annexation received a surprising amount of support from the Russian population and, importantly, from a significant proportion of Crimeans themselves.
    The Western reluctance was clever in that it has refuted claims of a threat to Russia from the EU and NATO. That was the message at the time, but Putin didn't get it.
    Against this background, many Russians perceive his war against Ukraine as a completely senseless and “private” aggression on the part of Putin, which cannot be justified by anything. Perhaps the western reluctance to join crime wasn't all that wrong after all?

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    I'm afraid it all started much earlier. One should not have simply accepted the occupation of Crimea. That was Putin's test run. Nothing happened apart from mock outrage and blatant sanctions.

    This is probably how Putin was encouraged to take the big step. We are always smarter afterwards.

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    @ Saabansbraten: Clever words, such clever words and so finely chosen. Thanks for that.

    I also remembered good old Plato, who called for looking at things from two sides. And that reminds me of a friend who, as a career soldier, had known for a long time that he had to go to a long-term NATO maneuver in the Baltic States at the beginning of this year, long before anything happened on the Ukrainian-Russian border, and who knew that this maneuver was against existing Violates NATO treaties with Russia (keyword: NATO eastward expansion). Every page has a lot of dirt stuck to it.

    Either way, such conflicts also begin in all of our heads, in our thinking. By thinking negatively, expressing ourselves negatively (the bad Russians, the others, the enemy, the slob) we have started a process of isolation and exclusion. On a small scale the other is “the idiot” and on a large scale he is “the enemy”. In fact, the idiot lives like the enemy in us and only when we recognize this and act wisely will something change on this planet. Until then, the murder, desecration, enslavement, exploitation, robbery and and and ……………… will continue. and we sit back, talk about the bad guys and pretend we're the good guys.
    Just between us and quite frankly: unfortunately it doesn't work that way.

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      That maneuver is bullshit. The maneuvers are (were) announced by both sides. Permanent stationing of NATO troops is not allowed, so they rotate. Otherwise, each state is free to join the alliance of its choice.

      What is not allowed is the occupation of Crimea, the bombings in Syria, Georgia and so on. Unfortunately, the Russians are the “bad guys”, so even reading Plato doesn't help the 600.000 Ukrainians who have fled.

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    I think both are good and right. So that we continue to write about Saab and that the topic of Ukraine is reflected here in a column - as usual factual and thoughtful.

    You just can't get around the topic. I'm thinking about showing solidarity and flag on my cars and how best. Of course, I would prefer the conflict to end with a withdrawal of Putin's troops before I wrap a wide blue and yellow stripe over the hood and roof of the black SC...

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    thanks tom As always, it couldn't have been expressed better.

    We are indeed looking too long…. until one day it's on our doorstep. It is shameful to what extent we do business with dictators and murderers in order not to jeopardize our bubble of prosperity. Personally, here in Spain I'm surrounded by desperate Ukrainians - and no, I'm not gender them - my Polish family lives 120 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, and streets full of tanks are part of my experience. I am sad and angry because of my powerlessness and the stupidity of mankind. But despite everything: I want to read about Saab. And I want to write about Saab. Questioned all projects in the last few days. And everyone involved unanimously decided to carry it out. It would be a hasty little victory for an insane despot to abandon our normality. And “carpe diem” never made more sense…..

    The Lizi

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    My 15-year-old currently has an increased need to talk...

    He speaks to me several times a day and before school on weekdays - today on Monday and before that last Friday.
    I don't really know about the puberty at all. Fear of WW III makes you unusually talkative...

    It's not that easy to dispel and put this fear into perspective, but the AW is in the article and my puberty even figured it out himself. He wrote me that the enemy is not the Russians, but Putin.

    Hopefully there will be Saab meetings again soon, in which Russians and Ukrainians will take part together.

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      Yes, you say it: Putin is the enemy, not the Russian people. Holding on to that is all too easy to lose.

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        Dear Ones,
        isn't that already war rhetoric to describe someone as an "enemy" whom nobody from here has probably ever met or spoken to in person? To identify a person as his enemy?
        Words in the article say it:
        We are smarter - better still wiser - to solve this. Even in times of a “pandemic” that doesn’t even stand up to its own definition, that’s exactly what needs to be learned: not to go into a split and (even unknown) condemnation, to get out of the scapegoat behavior – and instead into something new together .
        For that you have to start with yourself. Despite all the anger, all the sadness, all the worries, all the dismay.
        'I know I don't know much' - but I feel what is right. And then my heart tells me clearly that calling someone his enemy does not suit him.

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          Unfortunately, and I regret that, it is reality rhetoric. If you look at the pictures and facts from last night, people died again, more than on the previous nights. The enemy is Putin, the attack and killing is unjustifiable, and even on day 6 of the war there is little hope. But on the contrary. Things escalate.

          We “fine” Central Europeans have to learn to deal with it. We have to look reality in the ugly face and address issues clearly. I don't see any other way.

          Only the Russian people will be able to end the war. It alone can show its “President” the red card. Whichever way.

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            Well said. again...

            And rhetoric can save lives. It can isolate Putin and encourage an overthrow. And it can unite and build bridges – to the Russian people, thousands of whom are being arrested at home and dying in Ukraine.

            It is not only legitimate, but imperative to rhetorically isolate Putin while building bridges across Russia. Bridges for a peace and a friendship in freedom once the war is over.

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              Dear Volvaab Driver/Dear Herbert,
              because I'm trying to understand more:
              How would you like to do that – isolate someone rhetorically? ask him individually? leave him alone? And: how does that feel?

              At the same time I also notice:
              It doesn't turn a war into a peace if we assume what is right and what is wrong in the distance with possible sovereignty of interpretation and interpretation.
              What good does it do people there when people here say: "I condemn that in the strongest possible terms." What leads to more peace when I declare and see my counterpart as an "enemy"? Do we know from afar what is really like – does anyone know the interests of those who are currently carrying out the orders (or: 'are they just doing their job?') – has anyone spoken to Putin and asked him what he wants? To whom exactly does this image of the enemy refer, and what does it solve if I use it?
              I'm back to that point again: someone is taking the first step in a better direction. And that doesn't happen by walking on the path that I see as the 'wrong' one.

              That's what makes me all the more angry: all the talk about what's happening far away, and portraying oneself as 'the knower' and the one who may decide and influence it with words from afar. And then waits for someone to do it for you... right?
              A big HMPF.

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                Yes, in fact, that's exactly what I want. Confronting Putin and leaving him alone seems necessary to me at the moment.

                It could save a lot of lives, Russian and Ukrainian. Do you think that's morally wrong?

                Very, very insightful!
                Thank you for this openness.

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                  And then, do you think, everything will be fine - and no one "bad" will be around anymore (because Putin does it all completely alone)? 🙂

                  Sleep well.

                  It's a pity that my other comment above was deleted without comment - it was not very different in its way and contained similar questions.
                  Well, since I don't think that biting each other is expedient either, I won't go into it further at this point except to express my wish that questions and different views can be endured.

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                    The comment to clarify has not been deleted. The AI ​​recognized it as spam and did not approve it.

                    I took the trouble to read the comment. And I agree with the software.

                    The comparison of the "Corona walkers" as freedom fighters is serious nonsense.

                    The difference: in Ukraine, people are being killed by Russian soldiers. Every day and more than ever.

                    In Germany, people go for a walk because they see their rights at risk. I'll spare my opinion on that, it should be well known. But what happens to the people who do this? Are you at risk? Are they imprisoned, tortured, killed? I think that is not the case.

                    If you want to defend the Russian invasion, then I recommend an experiment:

                    Stand on Red Square in Moscow. Demonstrate against the war. The secret police won't look on, and you'll quickly be sidelined for a long time. Or, most recently: You write against the state in a medium like this. What is happening? It goes offline.

                    Hence the request, so that the topic can remain open: Stay on topic. Do not mix up facts and do not glorify the “walkers” as heroes. They sure aren't.

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                      Thanks for the explanation Tom.

                      To make that clear as well: I had used what I felt was an appropriate quote. If the first sentence is jarring, is the rest just as inappropriate?

                      Who benefits from war?
                      who suffers
                      Who emerges as the winner?

                      what is peace

                      I stick to:
                      Peace is not the narrative of or distinction between the good and the bad.

                      In order to get out of the head and argumentation level - and because I don't think sticking to facts is expedient for a real harmonious and peaceful coexistence - I prefer to ask questions for other levels. May everyone first find their own definition of peace, truth, respect, solidarity, etc.
                      Then you can approach each other more clearly and calmly when you are together.

                      If we can't do this, how is it going to work “out there” (which is bitterly real)?

                      I wish you a nice, a quiet and as hate-free weekend as possible.

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                      I'm sorry if I have to write it like this. At the moment only the facts count. Please tell the people under Russian artillery fire from the head and reasoning level, they will not be able to follow you. Sometimes it's time to face the truth. Especially when it comes to life and death. There is no room for sophistry in between.

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                Unfortunately, I have to answer this again: You don't have to ask Mr. Putin what he wants. He shows and says it clearly. Anyone who stands in the way of him and his plans can expect nuclear weapons as an answer. Germany too. Isn't that clear enough?

                And: 'Are they just doing their job?' there is not any. This is reminiscent of the rhetoric of the “order emergency” after 1945. Luckily, jurisprudence has come a long way in recent decades. Soldiers become accomplices and the international community brings war criminals before a tribunal. Mr. Putin is also threatened with this fate, as well as his generals.

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                  For my sake you can answer as much as you want - I think the exchange is good 🙂

                  Okay – so no communication as a way. And how does 'no communication' resolve a conflict?

                  Regarding “they are just doing their job”: I wish that this would never be used as a reason for one’s own actions, because it is not a real reason… in my eyes it is hiding behind orders, directives or something similar (depending on the environment) , and giving up one's own (also moral) responsibility.
                  In any case, I've heard this saying too often in recent years - and I have the impression that many people act the way they do because they feel they have to do it... or because of the fear of the consequences if I fight for morals and heart admit is too big. I am also sad that this is the case.
                  "Imagine it's war and nobody goes there." – that is also my great wish. Don't do it if it's clearly not good.

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                    I think the questions you ask of people and their motives are mostly good and correct.
                    The motive behind it, rather asking two to four more questions, going one or two levels deeper in the search for mutual understanding, than hastily reaching an opinion, even taking advantage of other perspectives, than being honorable per se ...

                    But what irritates me is that your partly personally addressed questions imply exactly that. You're supposed to justify how you came to an opinion without ever having met Putin personally. Using the example of Putin of all things, you accuse other readers of a know-it-all tendency, prematurely developing enemy images and more of the same...
                    This is also nothing more than a prejudice that you live out openly towards your fellow human beings. Your comments are a manifesto of moral and philosophical superiority and your purely rhetorical questions (whether you have ever met Putin personally) are a stylistic device of isolation. Behind this is nothing other than the intention of discrediting everyone who has no personal knowledge of and no personal experience with Putin as incapable of a valid opinion and to exclude them from forming an opinion. That's really tough stuff. And it's brimming with internal contradictions...

                    You can have an opinion about Putin even if you don't have any friendly or financial ties to him. The sovereignty of opinion is certainly not in better hands with a G. Schröder who would be qualified by your standards.

                    I could give 20 other examples of why your rhetoric offends me, but I'll leave it at that. The fact that you want to undermine Putin's rhetorical isolation at any price and at the same time and of all things operate the rhetorical isolation of comments and commentators versus Putin is, as I said, irritating enough.

                    Practice what you preach looks different to me.

                    Your standards for critics of Putin are alarmingly high. Not every widow, every father, every orphan has to meet this man personally in order to be able to express an opinion like G. Schröder. And Putin doesn't have to poison every doorknob personally,
                    not shooting every bullet yourself, not personally taking away every demonstrator before the victims are allowed to form an opinion. In your comments you have set up some very questionable standards of how you think your moral standards can be met and how you can have an opinion based on your standards.

                    As I said, by your own standards I find this all contradictory. In any case, there is no saving on prejudice and allegations. And all of this so that Putin wouldn't be too harsh on rhetoric?
                    Poor Putin...

                    Imagine it's war and nobody goes. Imagine it's war and Putin imprisons every child holding a peace symbol and shoots every father who doesn't go...

                    That's the reality. And the joke is that the kid may have been demonstrating against “Jewish Nazis” in Ukraine, believing Putin's propaganda that the invasion was a peace mission. It's funny when you demonstrate for peace during an ongoing peace mission and still end up in jail as a minor...
                    Find the mistake.

                    If you want to generate morally superior,. you should reset your priorities. I feel on the safe side with thousands of victims.
                    And by the way, a desperate and isolated dictator does not make an "enemy image". It's not about nationalism or racism. But even at this point you have resisted comments that explicitly sought to close ranks with the Russian people's desire for peace.

                    Also a rhetorical warfare, which other commentators are so willingly and skilfully assuming. You will not be able to avoid having to take a clear position at some point. And there you can only choose between Putin on the one hand and those imprisoned, murdered, orphaned and widowed on the other hand...

                    I really hope that you don't hesitate for a second.

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    Thank you Tom You hit the right note.
    And I fully share your thoughts on this, including those with a view to German politics. What happened here within a few hours yesterday left me speechless and full of hope. Maybe that's a small spark of hope that everything that's happening just a few hours' drive from us is also moving something in a positive direction.

    I was actually supposed to start a job for a customer in Kyiv in four weeks, which should last until 2023 with short interruptions. I had already planned to drive there with my SAAB; a little adventure and stuff for our blog.
    A young Ukrainian has been working with his colleagues from a Polish company for a year and a half now and again next door to the neighbor who is extensively expanding his house. We became friends over time, now and then he comes over to me, we have a barbecue, drink beer, talk. Through me he now also knows that there are two Swedish car brands. I took him in my 9-3 and we drove around a bit with us.

    We had agreed that I would occasionally visit him at his home in western Ukraine at the weekend when I don't have to be in Kyiv. He showed me pictures of ice fishing or a summer fishing weekend near the place where talks between a Russian and a Ukrainian delegation took place today. Unreachable distant places, areas where the Russian army is now cavorting.

    We both had a lot of credit for Putin. But no war of aggression against Ukraine. He'll be with me again tomorrow.

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      Oh man, you are affected relatively directly...

      A supplement to hope. In Sweden and Finland, the debate about joining NATO is experiencing a renaissance with growing approval. Their outcome is open, but if these accessions did come about, Putin would finally be seen as a geostrategist who had failed across the board.

      Still neutral 73 years after NATO was founded. But maybe not for long now. Also a NATO eastward expansion. It would be entirely on Putin's account. And the border with Finland, at 1340 km, is almost twice as long as that with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania combined...

      Putin could no longer declare the invasion of Ukraine a success even if the occupation succeeded. I hope we are witnessing the beginning of Putin's political end. And I think he miscalculated.

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    The video makes it even harder. Saab drivers like us - and now something. That gets to me, too. Terrible…

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    In October I saw the Saab driver from the video is still at the Saab Session Slovakia and now this. I also have a hard time finding words for this situation.

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    It's hard for me to leave a comment that doesn't sound too euphoric and funny. But I'll try it like this: "I would be happy if you wanted to read more about Saab." –> definitely!!!
    And I want to commend you for your choice of words. Emotional and yet adapted to the current situation. Really well done.

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      The priority for us Europeans is now to help in very different ways and depending on the possibility and preferably in coordination with the official contact points such as clubs, companies and other organizations. I can already see a great willingness to help in Germany and Europe. Ukraine belongs to us and we help as much as we can. It's going to be a long road. Hopefully a path of deeds and not just words...

      The causes of this escalation and the violation of international law by Putin and his regime are certainly complex. The brutality of his actions is unbelievable - above all against the civilian population of Ukraine but also against his own country. He's definitely not going to let that go...

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