Tag Archives: Ukraine

Olga Reznikova Wants to Help You Find a Ukrainian Wife!

I’ve recommended readers to check out Olga Reznikova’s blog, Discover Ukraine before.  In it she discusses customs and traditions in Ukraine that can help the foreign bride seeker navigate the dating customs in this area of the world.  So it was already a good resource.

Olga Reznikova

I turns out that she gets many questions about dating Ukrainian girls and marriage agencies and she decided to offer consultation services starting at $50.  If Olga can spare you from being a victim of a scammer, bogus agency or green card girl, then I think $50 is well worth the investment.  She can also investigate the legitimacy of agencies and help you arrange flower delivery.  You can read more about the service in one of her recent posts.

Olga has also interviewed Michael Mordinson from the Mordinson’s marriage agency.  I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Michael when I was in Kharkov, Ukraine on my bride search, so he’s the real deal.  The interview is about 20 minutes but worth checking out.

 

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Love in Odessa

I recently returned from a week vacation in Odessa, Ukraine with a Ukrainian girl who is now my fiance.  Not to get too mushy, but I’ve fallen in love with her.  I’m no longer a horny 20-year-old man so I have a clear enough mind to see that this relationship is working well on several different levels.  We have the same temperament and level of commitment.  Our dreams and goals are also similar.  In this day and age of frivolous divorces and out-of-wedlock pregnancies, that’s the best thing a man can realistically hope for.

It’s interesting to me how we both look at our relationship pragmatically.  My fiance, for one thing, recognizes that there is no hope and no future in Ukraine.  For one thing, they are coping with a Russian invasion with little indication that it will end favorably for Ukraine.  Second, even if there was no invasion, the Ukrainian government is corrupt and has utterly failed to provide opportunity to its citizens of even to raise their standard of living.

On the other hand, I realize that I will never find a woman as beautiful and even-tempered as my fiance in the US.  I’m in love with her (truthfully), but she has made it very easy for me to do this and trust her.  My parents are concerned, of course.  But I tell them that I must take this chance and enjoy every minute I am with her for as long as our relationship lasts.  A man was not meant to be alone.  I think my generation and my parents generation have forgotten this fact.  I’m convinced that a lot of problems we face as a country comes down to the fact that American men don’t have much to live or fight for anymore.  It took me a few trips abroad to understand this myself.  We are blessed as a country and it took foreign women in other countries for me to realize this and live life to the fullest.

What About Odessa?

I would highly recommend Odessa.  It is a beautiful, historic and charming city on the coast of the Black Sea.  When I went there earlier in July, the weather was perfect.  We took an excursion into the city to see some sites and a cruise on the Black Sea and witnessed a very beautiful sunset that made the trip much more romantic.  However, most of the time was spent in nightclubs and near beaches and pools.

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Romantic sunset on the Black Sea

I still recommend that your first visit abroad to be in the girl’s city.  But Odessa will make a nice second or third trip, because it’s a nice romantic city where you can build a relationship and still be in Ukraine.  I think a man still needs to be careful about taking a Ukrainian or Russian girl abroad.  Or be careful if she pushes a trip abroad too forcefully.  She can become spoiled a little too quickly and you don’t want this.

Odessa is about a 9 hour train ride from Kiev, or you can fly there directly.  We ended up taking the train and I trusted my fiance to make the arrangements that we needed.  I struggled with this because, as a man, I should be taking care of the plans.  However, I realize that the fact that my fiance was so willing to help and make some of the plans spoke volumes for me.  I never had a girl do this for me and it really was a big testament of how much she valued time with me.

I highly recommend checking out the club scene in Odessa with your girl.  I’m not big into clubs myself, but between the clubs, beaches and swimming pools, you’ll get to see how sexy your girl can dress and express herself.  As an American man, this is unusual to see.  Most American women don’t do this, and the ones that do only dress sexy for alpha cads and thugs.  There’s nothing like a woman dressing sexy for her man to make him appreciate what he has, and this is an art that has been lost for the American woman.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve been on dates with women in America and they simply don’t put in the effort.  Consider my article about Ashley McDonald to get an idea of the lengths American women will go to NOT, make a good impression on a date.

The only thing I will caution you about Odessa, is that they’re not yet up to Western standards of hospitality.  It’s a beautiful resort town, and the people are helpful and hospitable, but they haven’t heard of all-inclusive.  So there’s a feeling that they are nickel and diming you for every little thing.  Granted, this often means a few bucks here and there, so it’s not much.  But part of a good vacation is paying one price and enjoying yourself without having to worry about anything else.  This is why the West came up with all-inclusive accommodations.  The customer is even willing to pay a little bit more than he normally would just so he won’t have to worry about any additional costs as he enjoys his vacation.  Maybe one day, Ukraine and the rest of the FSU will understand capitalism.  But don’t let this discourage you from falling in love.  In the long run, it’s worth it!

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Add Kiev to Your List

Kiev always had a special place in my heart.  When I decided to look abroad for a wife, Kiev was the first city I visited.  It was exciting to travel and meet the first girl that I was corresponding with over the internet.  Kiev is a very charming city with beautiful churches and a lot of history.  The parks were nice to walk through and very romantic.  At the time I visited, Ukraine was celebrating their Independence Day and I watched a spectacular fireworks show on Independence Square in the city center.

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Firework show at Freedom Square during Ukrainian Independence Day

The relationship with the girl I visited didn’t work out.  She was one of those girls who felt that the best way for us to bond was to go on a shopping spree at my expense.  Things didn’t last to much longer between us after that and it was a long trip home, but it seems that Kiev has a special place in my heart.

My first trip was several years ago, long before the revolt that would run President Yanukovich out of the country and lead to war with the Russians/Separatists in the east of Ukraine.  I have recently returned, and while the city seems to have retained much of it’s charm, it’s baring some scars of it’s recent turmoil.

For one thing, it is nearly 25 grivna for a dollar.  This is a big jump from the 8 grivna per dollar that I received when I first visited Kiev and the 13 grivna per dollar when I visited Kharkov last year.  This makes things very affordable and cheap for Americans, but it’s distressing to know that Ukraine’s economy is teetering in the brink of collapse.  Ukrainian ladies will likely be distressed also and reevaluate their future and consider moving abroad for the right man.  Kiev has a reputation among bride seekers of being an overfished location, but I sense a change in attitudes during my recent visit and I think Kiev should be added to your list.

Other scars are much more physical.  Independence Square is very much the same from when I last visited, but seems to be a shadow of its former self.  There are broken windows that were hastily repaired with whatever panes of glass that could be salvaged.  Granite facades have been cracked, broken and lost.  Paving stones have been plucked from sidewalks and foundations and carried off.  For example an interesting monument that I visited during my first trip showed mile markers and directional arrows designating distances to various cities throughout the world.

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Mile marker as seen during my first visit to Kiev

Today, that mile marker has been picked clean of stones.

Mile marker with missing stones

Mile marker with missing stones

Remember it has been at least 14 months since the assembly of Ukrainian people at Independence Square demanding change in their government.  However, if you’ve heard nothing from the news about the recent past, you can tell that something happened here and the authorities seem to be too preoccupied to do repairs.

Kiev Connections Apartments

It’s not just public areas that seem to be in decline.  I reached out to Brett Ousley from the Marriage Agency, Kiev Connections to rent an apartment.  The girl I was meeting wasn’t from the agency but Brett and I had a nice dialog over email where he answered a lot of my questions about his agency and conditions in Kiev.

Unfortunately, I didn’t ask Brett about the conditions of his apartments.  I should have because the apartment I was living in was atrocious.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I’ve cautioned my readers that Western standards really means conditions you might see in Western Europe, but Americans should still find this adequate.  I’ve been on my mission for a foreign bride for several years and this took me to many cities and apartments.  The apartment that I ended up getting was the worst apartment that I ever rented.  Tile was lose and popping from the floor.  Many of the lights weren’t working.  Furniture was stained and threadbare.  The standing shower was no longer working because wire was tying the doors shut.  It seemed to be this way for a while.  You were forced to use a handheld shower head in the bathtub.  The towels actually seemed like they came from a hotel that went out of business right after the Berlin Wall fell.  Fortunately, there was hot water or else the place would be unlivable.  And toilet paper, there was barely enough toilet paper.

When I asked about Brett, I was told by Tanya (the site claims she is a Matchmaker, but she’s really just an office manager) that Brett has been in the states for a while, so Brett is managing the business remotely.  I don’t even want to guess when was the last time he’s seen his apartments.  But if they look anything like the one I was in, then he needs to fix them up, pronto!  I would also suggest that he move back to Ukraine.  I don’t see how you can manage an agency from the states and uphold the same standards that resulted in him gaining such a great reputation among other bride seekers.

The silver lining is with Kiev Connections’ driver.  If you use Kiev Connections, ask for Victor to pick you up at the airport.  He has great ideas about romantic places to take your ladies and gives some pretty solid advice on how you should act and behave with them.  Most of the advice can be summarized as being the man and be willing to lead.  A Ukrainian woman has to be able to look up to and respect her man.  I agree with this advice, so don’t be afraid to pick his brain.

Considering all that has happened before and during my trip to Ukraine, I met a girl that seems to be an angel and took the setbacks with grace.  So I would consider this trip a happy one and feel that the future is bright.  No matter what Kiev has been through, it will be a special city in my heart.

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Ukraine Watch: History Repeats Itself

Another cease-fire has been negotiated in the conflict between Ukraine and the seperatists.  Tell me if any of this seems familiar to you.  It should because we’ve been down this road before with a previous cease-fire and the firing never ceased.  There’s an airport sitting in Donetsk that contains all the physical evidence one would possibly need about how effective these cease-fires have been.  Why did anybody think this would work in the first place.  In fact, reports have indicated that the fighting has only intensified since the Minsk Agreement.

Recent events this week have made me reflect on the idea of history often repeating itself.  It’s not that I think that the countries involved in this struggle don’t know this, but I wonder if they are really learning the right lessons from history.

The United States

obama

Obama is reportedly thinking about giving “lethal aid” to Ukraine to aid in their fight with the seperatists.  Other officials in government have called for the same thing, but now that Obama is thinking about it, it may become a reality.

And why not?  US military aid to the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan during the 80’s was effective in driving out a Soviet invasion and possibly facilitated the Soviet Union’s collapse.  It wasn’t the only factor.  The Soviet Union also had a stagnant economy, food shortages, an escalating and expensive arms race with the West, and loss of revenue during plummeting oil prices that pretty much doomed the country.  In other words, the same economic and political factors that Russia and Putin are facing at this very moment.  So military aid to Ukraine should be a no-brainer.  Putin has already accused the US of intervening in Ukraine’s struggle to drive out the Kremlin-friendly Yanukovich so what would the US have to lose?

The only difference I see is that Russia had no cultural ties with the people of Afghanistan, but they do in Ukraine.  Ukraine and Russia go back a long way, and while they may be two independent and sovereign nations at the present time, there are a lot of similarities culturally that will complicate things.  This is something I hope that the authorities can grasp.  Putin has already demonstrated that he will not allow the seperatists to be defeated by providing unmarked troops and vehicles to turn the tide or stabilize the situation.  So any aid the US gives will be matched by Putin causing an escalation.

Germany

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Merkel thinks that military aid to Ukraine is a bad idea.  Considering the historical factors involved, who could blame her for thinking this?  Nazi Germany may have lost against the combined might of the Soviet, American and English armies during World War II but not without mauling the Soviet Union in the process.  Post war assessments by both Stalin and the West revealed total devastation on the Eastern Front, and in the end, Germany became a divided country.  Plus there was the holocaust.  Every nation has sins in it’s past, but the holocaust was a doosy, and it happened relatively recently.  This isn’t the first time that Germany had plunged the entire European continent into war either.  World War I was pretty much blamed on Germany, and if we were to go even further back, The 30 Years War devastated German territory.  I can’t imagine the historical guilt and reservation that Germany has, but I can understand it’s reluctance to endorse any military solution to the problem.

But if Merkel isn’t careful, she’ll join Neville Chamberlain as one of history’s great appeasers.  To be honest, I don’t think Merkel has the political and diplomatic skills to successfully negotiate this latest crisis.  When times were good, I’m sure people liked her, but since Europe’s economic problems and tension with emerging right-oriented political groups, her performance seems to be lackluster.  It took a hell of a lot of arm twisting to try and stop France from delivering warships to Russia’s Navy. She even opposed sanctions with Russia until an airliner got shot down.  She can’t really stick her head in the sand and wait for things to blow over.  As the leader of Europe’s largest economy she needs to send a clear and unambiguous message that resonates with the entire European continent.  If this was done a lot earlier, such a unified front might have caused Putin to think twice.

Russia

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Their economy is going down the tubes due to a combination of sanctions, low oil prices, a devalued ruble, high interest rates and capital flight.  Most nations can cope with a crisis in one or two of these factors, but all of them makes for a perfect storm.  Russia will face a recession coupled by a decline in living standards.  It’s just a question of how bad it will get and for how long.  Despite all of this, Putin’s approval rating remains well above 80%!  This would be unheard of in a Western country where economic growth and approval ratings tend to correlate more directly.  Only a strong nationalistic fervor coupled with a skillfully executed propaganda campaign has kept public opinion high.

Russians historically endured many hardships and it’s left an imprint on their pysche.  I’ve also found them to be very patriotic so I’d expect their resolve to erode very slowly.  But Russia’s leadership has often assumed that since Russian people have endured much, then they can put up with anything.  Not so.  It seems that Russian’s are more than willing to give up some of their personal freedoms and civil liberties as long as the authorities can deliver some stability and guarantee a decent standard of living.  And if there’s clear rules and expectations about what behaviors will keep them out of trouble, then Russians seem to be willing to live with this.  It’s just that when the authorities fail to uphold their end of this social contract is when revolutions break out–bloody ones.  That’s for the home front anyway.

Internationally, the West has always found Russia to be an irrational actor of the world stage.  You never know what they are up to and why.  While I was reading about a study the CIA had done in regards to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, I found it interesting that the CIA new everything the Soviet Union was doing leading up to the invasion.  The CIA noticed reserves being called, troop buildups and they intercepted communications.  However, they concluded that the USSR wouldn’t risk escalating tensions by invading, but they were wrong.  That’s exactly what happened.  I also found it interesting that Soviet authorities were initially reluctant to send forces into Afghanistan, but they had convinced themselves of American attempts to take advantage of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan when, in reality, the US have very little interest there.  The Soviets ended up believing their own propaganda and it led them into a quagmire that ended up ruining them.  The idea that two adversaries with nuclear arsenals can be so far apart as to fail to agree on objective reality is potentially very dangerous!  The fact that Russia continues to deny that Russian troops and tanks have been crossing the border into Ukraine is pretty big evidence of this distortion of reality.  Recent comments made by Lavrov (Russia’s version of Bagdad Bob) also strongly suggests this.

Ukraine

porshenko

Ukraine is in a tough spot with no way out.  They are fighting a war that they can’t win on their own territory.  One of the conditions of the cease fire is Ukraine’s recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk as autonomous zones.  What that means in reality is that they are independent countries but Ukraine still needs to pay their pension.  It’s a condition that no country in their right mind is willing to accept so I don’t picture Ukraine accepting it. It can be argued that the cease fire that they agreed to was made under duress and only made to keep more Ukrainians from being killed, and therefore, invalid.  But what then?  Their only option is to stick it out and hope that Russia goes broke before they do.

China

xi

China must be loving this.  Between the Ukrainian conflict and the trouble caused by Islamic State, the US’s attention seems pretty occupied and China may try to assert some regional claims.  They are also closing energy and trade deals on very favorable terms for the Chinese with Russia because Russia needs the markets.  There’s even discussions among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries to create a global monetary system to compete with the West.  I can’t help but find this idea laughable.  Neither of these countries has a stable enough currency to function as a reserve or universal exchange for value like the dollar or euro is. Plus, China would be the biggest economy in such an arrangment while Russia thinks they’re a world power and they should be running the organization.  I sense a lot of friction here while Russia desperately searches for economic alliances with disfunctional nation states.

What this means for the bride seeker?

If you avoid Donetsk and Lugansk, everything should be fine.  Of course, everybody is worried about escalation, but I think things have been kept pretty local so far.  I visited Kharkov, Ukraine last September and everything was very quiet with the exception of the people pulling down Lenin’s statue in Freedom Square but it was a peaceful assembly.  Just follow the news carefully and consult with the American State Department.  Make sure you register with the American embassy in case you need to leave in a hurry. Americans are very well received since we are standing up to Russia and punishing them.  And these events have probably given the Ukrainian people doubts about the future.

But I can’t say how well received Americans would be in Russia.  I’ve tried to read about people that have traveled there and expats that live there and I get mixed reviews.  I certainly wouldn’t talk about the political situation between Russian and Ukraine.  I’ve had this experience already and it got very tense.

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Ukraine Watch: Who Will Blink First?

The ending of a nominal cease-fire has escalated new tensions in southeast Ukraine that may make a foreign bride seeker reconsider his pursuit in this country.

Rebel controlled Lugansk and Donetsk provinces held elections for parliament members and ministers a couple of weeks ago.  Turn out was reportedly high and Russian president Vladimir Putin has recognized the results.  The rest of the world rejects the legitimacy of these elections, but the key factor is that from Putin’s perspective, perhaps he sees both Lugansk and Dontesk as independent, sovereign nations.  This will complicate the issue of ending the war in Ukraine.  Ukraine will not want to give up this territory but attempting to take it back may be the casus belli that Putin needs to commence and all-out invasion of Ukraine since he’ll see “Western-backed fascists” violating the sovereignty of nations full of Russian speakers.

russian trucks

Putin has recently sent additional troops and vehicles into rebel-held territory so this crisis isn’t going to end anytime soon.  First, it seems that anytime rebel progress stalls or experiences setbacks, Putin commits forces and equipment to turn the tide.  Putin is stated very directly that he won’t let the rebellion be defeated.  Second, the Russian economy has been taken a beating from the falling ruble and oil prices.  Russia has also been experiencing the largest capital outflow since 2008 and there’s an indication that Putin isn’t flinching.  He has currency reserves built up so the average Russian isn’t likely to feel the effects of sanctions for a while.  It all depends how long the reserves hold out and how well Russia can source various proscribed goods domestically.  The average Russian might feel the effects eventually, but it will be while.  Putin is obviously playing the long game.  He doesn’t have to worry about a reelection bid for a few years yet, and he has been very effective in the past of marginalizing his opposition if the opinion of the Russian public ends up souring.

Meanwhile, US president Obama has only a couple of years left in his final term.  Other European leaders may also not be around for long if their European economies don’t recover from recession soon.  Will the next group of leaders still have interest in maintaining sanctions this long or will they lose interest?  Perhaps Putin will eventually get his way.  That would seem to be a best case scenario.

A worst case scenario might see things escalating into a full-out regional war, if not, a full-scale global one. Putin and German Chancellor Merkel have ramped up the rhetoric.  Russia has expelled Polish diplomats.  And the Russian increase in air patrols has nearly led to some midair collisions because Russian planes aren’t using transponders and flying in aggressive and provocative flight paths that may trigger a shooting war according to some security experts.

All this means is that a bride-seeker still needs to exercise caution when flying to Ukraine because things are heating up once again.  There’s no guarantee that the war in Ukraine will remain local or end anytime soon, so follow the news updates when planning your trip.  An exit strategy may not be a bad idea either!

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A Review of Mordinson Marriage Agency

After a couple of years of being out of the foreign bride search, I finally went back abroad.  This time I went to the Mordinson Marriage Agency in Kharkov, Ukraine.

mordinson_office

To provide you with a little bit of history, I started looking for a foreign bride several years ago.  I used websites online that specialized in international dating.  Generally, this approach is well suited for the write many, visit one (WMVO) approach that I initially adopted.  I wasn’t quite the seasoned traveler so it seemed to be too overwhelming to date more than one girl at once overseas.  I made several trips and ended up becoming engaged to a Russian woman (RW) for some time, but the engagement fell apart.

It seemed that a new approach to foreign dating was required and I decided to give the agencies a shot.  Marriage Agencies or Introduction Agencies are services that assemble a database of ladies for you to write to.  The agency provides translation services, apartment rentals and function as de facto tour guides when you visit their city.  Most men are reluctant to use them because a lot of agencies turned out to be lucrative scams, and even if the agency was honest, men would lose a degree of freedom during their correspondence and meeting since personal information and the correspondence tends to be strictly controlled.

What is Mordinson Marriage Agency?

Mordinson has been in the marriage and introduction business since 1999.  Longevity is a good sign in this industry.  They also are a registered business in Ukraine and have contact information on their website (another good sign).  They also enjoy a good reputation among other bride seekers on the internet and that’s what matters the most; how clients rate the agency and would they recommend it.  So you should definitely do your research about any agency that you may be interested in using and get people’s opinions about it.

The agency is being run and managed by Michael Mordinson.  He was more than willing to answer any questions I might have had.  He personally meets the ladies in his office and interviews them before accepting them in his agency.  The ladies are notified that Mordinson is an international agency which means that the male clients are men that live in other countries, so the ladies are aware that they may need to move abroad if they get married at this agency.

Some of Mordinson’s services

Mordinson has a good reputation among foreign bride seekers on the internet but many believe that he’s too expensive for some reason.  Mordinson has an introduction package that covers a 10-day visit for $2,650 which many think is a little pricey.

In my opinion, you have to think about value.  The introduction package includes apartment rental, unlimited translations and dates, transportation to and from the airport and a cellphone that Michael provides you during your stay that you can use to call him at any time if you need anything or if you get lost.  The apartment is pretty spacious but lacks a kitchen.  But fortunately Kharkov is a pretty inexpensive city.  Meals were typically only a few dollars and I wasn’t spending more than $30 each day.  You will still need to cover your own airfare.  For an American, that price can be significant.

I think what sells the service is that there is no limit to how many ladies you can write to and date.  So to get good value, you would have to adopt the write many, visit many (WMVM) strategy.  I think the price also keeps many looky-loos and keyboard romeos from swamping the ladies with attention so the ladies won’t get too jaded and think that you’re a serious man. Also, when your in town, Michael will show you around and give you advice on how to impress the ladies and what they expect, so you might as well listen to him.  You’re paying for his advice too.  Michael seems to be a humble and energetic person and is good company to be with.

The best thing I could say about Mordinson was how fast the translations were completed.  Even fairly lengthy letters were translated within a day and there were often times where I would receive a lady’s reply withing 24 hours after I sent her a letter.  But your mileage may vary.  But it seems the main factor that affects the reply time is the lady herself.  The agency isn’t sitting on the letters and milking the subscription service. So if you ended up subscribing to the monthly translation service ($175) and write to several ladies, you will get your money’s worth!

I’ve always been puzzled about some bride-seekers attitudes about price.  Even if you’re thrifty in this bride search, it will cost more than you think.  But in order for an agency to stay in business, it has to make a profit so that the owner and employees can make a living.  Many men will agree to this sentiment (of course).  But they still complain about outrageous pricing and agencies ripping them off.  To be sure, there will be some sketchy agencies that do this, which is why research is important, but I think Mordinson has a good price structure for now.

The ladies of Mordinson

The agency is exclusive to the area, so they don’t have a large database of ladies which might be bad if you like a lot to choose from, but on the positive side of things, the agency interviews each girl personally and determines if she really wants to be married and is willing to marry a foreigner.  The ladies also don’t seem to be listed anywhere else that I can tell.  I’ve been to other websites looking for women from Kharkov, Ukraine and don’t recognize any Mordinson ladies.

Mordinson seems to have started out in professional photography and it shows.  The photos of the ladies are fantastic.  Some men have expressed skepticism about whether or not studio glamour shots end up being a misrepresentation of the ladies, but I’ve found that I’ve still been able to recognize the ladies in person.  You are just seeing the best of themselves in the photos and they are still quite beautiful when you meet them in person.  I think Mordinson knows what everybody else knows, that men judge women with their eyes and the agency that takes the best photos of their ladies will have the advantage in this market.

It’s not just appearance.  As near as I can tell, the women seem genuine.  The first meeting is usually at a cafe so it’s not an expensive date.  Even during second or third meetings, the ladies aren’t trying to take you to expensive places or shopping sprees.  They are very nice to be around.

What can you expect?

In my case, I took advantage of the unlimited correspondence and wrote to every lady that interested me.  I would say that I received about a 30% positive response.  This is much better than a typical man would get from dating in the US unless he was a pickup artist or an alpha male (celebrity, business man, professional athlete, etc).  I’m more of an average Joe so this seemed to be a good response for me.  Your mileage may vary.

Ultimately, I met about 6 ladies.  This seems to be an ideal amount but you can meet more of them.  There were others I was interested in meeting, but they cancelled.  This happens sometimes–you click with a girl and make plans to visit her, but on the 11th hour she gets sick or gets married or moves to that village with no name where all the grandmothers in Russia and Ukraine live that has no cell phone reception. In fairness, this is a risk when dating internationally, but this seems happen more when dealing with agencies and my trip was no exception.

You’ll spend the first few days of your trip meeting the ladies and use the rest of the trip build a relationship with who you like.  Of the six that I met, about three of them weren’t interested in another meeting with me.  One of them seemed like she really liked me but I couldn’t return her affections.  There ended up being one that seems to like me as much as I like her and I hope we can keep the relationship moving forward.

Basically, it seems if you have realistic expectations, things may turn out well for you, but nothing can be guaranteed since you’ll never know how the girls may feel about you because it’s only letters at first.  It might be worth doing a video conference with the ladies that reply to your introduction letter to see if there is any chemistry before you visit them.  I didn’t use this service, but it might improve your success rate.

Safety

I was in Kharkov during the end of September 2014 and everything seemed peaceful and quiet at this time.  The Russian-instigated rebellion that has been covered in the news has been confined to the southeast of the country while Kharkov is further north.  The American government has opposed Russian activity in the country and the Ukrainians like this so Americans seem to be well received.  Most people I talk to are in favor of a unified Ukraine.

The apartment and the Mordinson office are located about a 10-15 minute walk from the main square (Freedom Square) and is in a gated courtyard that requires a key to enter and it seems to be manned with a watchman.  You will also need a key code to get into the building and a separate key to enter the apartment so the apartment seems pretty safe with these three secure entry points.  I also recall hearing children playing in the playgrounds nearby so I thinK this is a pretty safe area.

It was odd that on the same day I left, a popular demonstration had pulled down the Lenin statue on Freedom Square.  I had walked past this statue several times during my visit and probably took the last pictures of this statue while it was still standing.  It’s a reminder that anything can happen when you travel abroad, but there’s obviously so much anti-Russian sentiment that there won’t be much meddling in this area of Ukraine for the foreseeable future.

Anti-Russian demonstrators pull down the Lenin statue on the same day that I left; September 28, 2014

Anti-Russian demonstrators pull down the Lenin statue on the same day that I left; September 28, 2014

I highly recommend the Mordinson Marriage Agency in Kharkov and stress for you to do your research and follow the news carefully when planning your trip to this region.

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Ukraine Watch: Donetsk’s Last Stand?

It’s been a while since I’ve written an article about the potentially unstable conditions in Ukraine’s eastern territories that might threaten a Western man’s bride search in that country.  Judging by some replies from marriage agencies in Ukraine, life seems to be proceeding normally despite some escalation in violence as the provisional government was trying to establish order in regions that supposedly voted for succession from Ukraine.

My read on the situation was that May 25th, the day that Ukraine was to elect their new president, would be the milestone that determines how this latest crisis in the FSU would play out.  Despite global news coverage, it seems like the world was holding its breath while government leaders around the world hastily formulated strategies to be implemented based on the outcome of Ukraine’s election.

Then something interesting happened.

Rinat Akhmetov

Rinat Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine, took action by mobilizing his employees to work with the police in confronting the rebels in Mariupol and Donetsk.  That, in itself, is something you don’t see everyday.  What makes this turn of events even more remarkable is that Akhmetov seemed to be more effective at quelling the rebellion than the Ukrainian military!

With elections still to come, Akhmetov’s actions indicated to me that most Ukrainians in the east of the country favored a unified Ukraine.  I doubt that a rational player such as Akhmetov wouldn’t have done what he did if he wasn’t certain that public opinion was on his side.  Plus, this would make it far more difficult for President Vladimir Putin of Russia to rationalize that this latest development was the result of meddling from “western fascists”. Putin’s propaganda machine likely suffered a significant setback as well as making any sort of overt Russian military action in Ukraine unfeasible.  How can Putin justify “saving” Russian speakers in Ukraine that don’t want to be saved while the whole world is watching?  Putin was already softening his stance by suggesting that he would abide by the election results.  It wasn’t long after Akhmetov’s civil activism that Putin withdrew the forces that he deployed along Russia’s border with Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin

Well, the final nail was driven in on May 25th when Petro Poroshenko won an open and transparent presidential election by such a large margin, that it wouldn’t have mattered if the separated regions voted or not.  Poroshenko is being portrayed as a pragmatic man who campaigned on closer ties with Europe while trying to mend the political rift with Russia.  So his victory is as clear a mandate by the people as anyone can hope for, and he has started to hit the separatists hard to bring Donetsk back into Ukraine where it belongs.

Whatever hope Putin had of acquiring new territory or influencing autonomous regions in Ukraine vanished on May 25th.  This isn’t a defeat for him by any means.  He seized Crimea and recently signed an energy deal with China, so he can at least call this a win.

RUSSIA-SOCHI-XI JINPING-VLADIMIR PUTIN

It’s hard to know what is going on in Putin’s mind.  He most certainly wants to reconstitute the Soviet Union or Russian Empire in some way.  It’s not a matter of if he tries again, but when and where.  He most certainly knows by now that any overt attempts to do so in Eastern Europe will only push those countries further into NATO or the EU’s sphere of influence.  If he wants influence there again, it will cost him time and money and Russia doesn’t really have much of either.  He might decide to move south next time, perhaps in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan or Georgia.  The 2008 Georgian War with Russia demonstrated that the West can’t really do much but watch if Russia decides to nibble away at some territory on its southern frontier, and most of the countries along Russia’s southern border don’t have a clear foreign policy for their citizens to rally around and resist any attempts at annexation by Russia.

What does this mean to the bride seeker?

Surprisingly, very little.  The only significant change that I might see is that a bride seeker from the West will likely need a visa if he wants to meet girls in Crimea since it’s effectively Russian territory now.

Otherwise, there’s not much difference.  Mordinson’s marriage agency in Kharkov, Ukraine is as close to the border between Ukraine and Russia as a bride seeker is likely to get and they are still open for business and accepting clients.

Kharkov hosted an international marathon on April 12, 2014 that seemed to go off without a hitch.  Click to see the video. (the video’s privacy settings won’t allow me to embed the video here)

Brandon from Canada seemed to hit it off with a cute blond on May 24th, the day before the election! Click to see the video.

Lloyd from the UK found this raven beauty on May 16th.  Lloyd even mentions that none of the unrest seems to have hit Kharkov.  Click to see the video.

If anything, this is great news!  Despite the unrest being reported, it seems very localized and not in much danger of escalating.  But these events will be a reminder to the Ukrainian girls that life in Ukraine still has the potential to change for the worst at a moment’s notice and they will likely be more receptive to marrying foreigners and immigrating to stable western countries than they might have been in recent years.  I can see no reason why a western man can’t find love in Ukraine.

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