back to article Coding in a war zone: A Ruby developer's life in Kharkiv

Victor Shepelev, known as @zverok on Twitter and GitHub, is a Ruby developer and software architect who lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Since Russia invaded his country on February 24, 2022, he's had more pressing concerns than writing code, such as keeping his family safe and helping his fellow citizens survive. In a blog post on …

  1. First Light Silver badge

    нехай Ви та Ваша родина залишаєтесь у безпеці та здорові - May you and your family remain safe and well.

    I can't imagine what it's like. Know that there are many, many people around the world supporting your country.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      A downvote?

      I did not know Putin frequented El Reg

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: A downvote?

        The second downvote was Lavrov.

  2. Yes Me Silver badge

    Spreading the news

    I'm sure that not all the news is spread, but if we (in the West) watch largely unbiased sources like Al Jazeera, we see plenty, and that allows us to see that most Westerm media are telling the truth too. (I still wouldn't trust the notoriously right wing media; they are confused because they tended to like the look of Putin as well as of tRump, and right now they are in conflict with themselves. And of course RT tells nothing but lies, as always.)

    What I'd like is a pipe right into every home in Russia, to pump the truth to them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spreading the news

      Yes, the Russian public does know to an extent, just not enough of them. The constant flow of coffins and calls from their captured sons is starting the same phenomenon that ended the Soviet debacle in Afghanistan. The 'Russian Mothers' are already causing a lot of noise, to the extent that Vlad Hitler had to address them directly on Television, an unprecedented act that illustrates he knows he's dug himself a hole.

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Spreading the news

      I'd like an unfiltered truth. Al Jazeera has it's own biases, as do many MSM outlets. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if that's intentional, or not.

      I saw an example last night. Bbc have a story from 00:11 today in their live feed. There's a Getty image of a 'destroyed Russian tank' outside a nice looking building in Kharkiv. Tag's now been updated as 'destroyed armoured vehicle', presumably because someone pointed out it was a Ukrainian BTR-4. One of the things Kharkiv is famous for is the Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau that designed most of Russia's tanks and AFVs.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: Spreading the news

        > Tag's now been updated as 'destroyed armoured vehicle', presumably because someone pointed out it was a Ukrainian BTR-4.

        The trouble with the BBC website is that the people labelling the pictures frequently have trouble distinguishing arses from elbows let alone a Russian military vehicle from a Ukrainian one.

        Coupled with their frequent inability to distinguish between a random string of words and a grammatical English sentence, the site can often be pretty bizarre first thing in the morning until some more experienced hands arrive to review the night desk's rubbish.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Spreading the news

          Yep, it gets tricky, ie figuring out T-72 variants & operators when both sides are using (roughly) the same kit. I had some fun with BellendCat's 'fact checkers' during the 2014 drama when they were claiming new ERA modules = Russian tanks. Even though they were designed and manufactured in Ukraine.

          It's one of those sad ironies where Ukrainian armour design & heavy industry once helped save Russia, and now it's being used to kill Ukrainians. Also if it's part of the reason given Ukraine beat Russia for some large export orders. As designs diverge, recognition gets easier, and the BTR-4 is pretty distinctive. Curious if Russia's Armata have made an appearance as well.

          1. F. Frederick Skitty

            Re: Spreading the news

            "Curious if Russia's Armata have made an appearance as well."

            Unlikely, since it's not been put into production. The cost was prohibitive, and despite its sophistication it is as vulnerable to modern anti-tank weapons as the older tank models already in service.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Spreading the news

              Yep, seems like Armata are in production, but not enough to really field them. I guess one aspect of modern conflict is the ability to gather intelligence. Especially now we have social media providing high resolution images of destroyed or damaged vehicles showing how they're armoured.

              1. F. Frederick Skitty

                Re: Spreading the news

                From what I've read, they only really made prototypes or development machines, and actual series production has been postponed for years since the last economic crisis. Unit cost is critical for Russia, since their military doctrine is to use massed tank attacks that require large numbers. That doctrine has failed in Ukraine, since the muddy terrain prevents mass tank attacks and the Ukrainians have adopted "hit and run" tactics against the columns that are limited to using roads - remarkably similar to the Finns in the 1939-40 Winter War.

      2. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

        Re: Spreading the news

        Yup, I saw an article a few days ago that NATO had reconiassance/surveillance planes flying near Ukraine, to provide some information (radar coverage) on what all was flying over. The system was advanced enough to ID each plane type, but Ukraine and Russia both use MIGs so it pretty much showed a bunch of MIGs without it being clear whose they were. Does make it interesting if they capture any hardware (probably not capturing planes, but tanks, guns, vehicles, etc.) that the parts will all be ineterchangeable.

    3. Insert sadsack pun here Silver badge

      Re: Spreading the news

      "What I'd like is a pipe right into every home in Russia, to pump the truth to them."

      "We" already have access, uncensored access free and easy, to the truth about the Saudi war in Yemen, and the support of the UK and US for it. What are "we" doing about it? Let's not get too sanctimonious about inactivity of ordinary Russians in a police state.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: Spreading the news

        In regards to Yemen, I think one of the key differences is that there's a pretty significant population of highly-educated Ukrainian emigres in the West who can boost the signal regarding what's happening, and, indeed, Ukraine is much more connected to the rest of the world, so we're seeing more information in the news and, critically, on social media, often on real time. I have not seen the same kind of reports coming out regarding Yemen.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Spreading the news

          There have been, but Saudi's perhaps been more successful at controlling the narrative. There were videos from the Houthies showin attacks on government and Saudi forces, but then it seemed like YT started to censor those.

          I have mixed views about that. Some were pretty graphic showing the effects of human ingenuity at killing fellow humans. Not pretty, but counters spin that 'our' wars are fought humanely because wars are increasingly inhumane.

  3. Zolko Silver badge

    The unity that Ukrainians show from the very first days

    this doesn't seem to concern the 12 000 Ukrainian deaths in the Donbass by Ukrainian bombs during the past 8 years though.

    I'll give a dissenting voice here: Ukraine has forbidden local languages in their country, including Hungarian which is the native mother-tongue of several hundred-thousand Ukrainians. This doesn't justify the current deaths in Ukraine, but shines a dubious lights on the Ukrainian nationalist mentality. And this interview doesn't really help to dispel that uncomfortable feeling.

    Maybe I am being selfish here ...

    yes, you are: there is a war raging in Yemen with much more deaths than in Ukraine, did you give your support to those people ? Make peace with your neighbor and stop complaining that the entire world should rush to your rescue. Nobody came to Hungary's rescue in 1956 either.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      "12 000 Ukrainian deaths in the Donbass by Ukrainian bombs during the past 8 years though"

      [citation needed]

      "Ukraine has forbidden local languages in their country"

      [citation needed]

      "Make peace with your neighbor"

      Advice best given to Russia and Putin, surely?

      "Nobody came to Hungary's rescue in 1956 either."

      So, two wrongs now make a right?

      It's definitely interesting reading the justifications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and arguments against Western intervention. In this case, we see two of the common tropes, victim blaming and whataboutism. The victim blaming is almost exactly the same as you see applied to rape victims, that Ukraine was not morally perfect and therefore deserves what's currently happening, also that they should just "lay back and enjoy it" in terms of allowing themselves to be invaded without offering resistance. The whataboutism we see manifested in the claim that, because there is or has been unjust war elsewhere in the world, this unjust war should proceed without objection. The countries of the West clearly perceive this invasion as both unjust and a more immediate threat to the rest of Europe, one which might well lead to further Russian military expansion. Whether one believes this perception is accurate or justifies military intervention is, of course, a matter of significant debate, but it's not one that can be hand-waved with reference to other invasions. In fact, the reference to Hungary 1956 is, if anything, an argument for intervention in this case, to prevent the fall of a new Iron Curtain across Eastern Europe.

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Per citations below plus other info:

      Point 2: Language homogenisation requirement. Removed 4yrs ago.

      Point 1: Very serious problems with your misrepresentation attempt here. The number is roughly accurate, but:

      A/ You're pretending Ukraine killed all those people. That's what experts call A Lie. It is a joint figure: Russia-backed forces, Ukrainian forces, and Ukrainian civilians. Technically, there, I should say "Russian forces" -- international bodies have investigated and determined the reality of the incursion to be Russian not locals.

      B/ You are assuming and declaring that it is immoral and wrong to defend yourself. That the fact of being attacked means you are in the wrong, are the lesser people, must comply, must do as you're told. Sane people regard this attitude as foul, as repugnant.

    3. Muppet Boss
      Thumb Up

      Do not feed the troll they say but just cannot resist it, русский сетевой хомячок, иди нахуй.

    4. Danny 2 Silver badge

      There is a war


      I was moved by this article partly because I see the similarity in coding and poetry - both are about removing redundant characters and leaving meaning.

      The USuk involvement in the Yemen invasion is appalling, but the difference is here we can call that a war. Russians can't call the Ukraine invasion a war on penalty of a 15 year prison sentence. Freedom of thought, freedom of expression is vital and instructive.

      "There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say there isn't" ~ Leonard Cohen

      Make peace with your neighbor and stop complaining that the entire world should rush to your rescue.
      When a neighbour bursts into your house, kills your wife and children and sets fire to the house, is a peaceful response rational?

      You then mention Hungary was betrayed by the west in '56, as if that is justification for betraying Ukraine today. That's a logical fallacy, a coding error, it proves the opposite of your point.

      Thanksgiving (1956) by E.E. Cummings

      a monstering horror swallows

      this unworld me by you

      as the god of our fathers' father bows

      to a which that walks like a who

      but the voice-with-a-smile of democracy

      announces night & day

      "all poor little peoples that want to be free

      just trust in the u s a"

      suddenly uprose hungary

      and she gave a terrible cry

      "no slave's unlife shall murder me

      for i will freely die"

      she cried so high thermopylae

      heard her and marathon

      and all prehuman history

      and finally The UN

      "be quiet little hungary

      and do as you are bid

      a good kind bear is angary

      we fear for the quo pro quid"

      uncle sam shrugs his pretty

      pink shoulders you know how

      and he twitches a liberal titty

      and lisps "i'm busy right now"

      so rah-rah-rah democracy

      let's all be as thankful as hell

      and bury the statue of liberty

      (because it begins to smell)

  4. Morten Bjoernsvik

    Ukranian keyboard Heroes

    I've had the pleasure of working with brilliant people from since 2015. We have been i Kyiv and they come to Norway 4 times a year for planning, social events and knowledge sharing. Most of the people have been with us for years, and even during war they work and deliver. They are real heroes. Infopulse have helped relocate their employees and their families out of Kyiv to more secure parts in the west. I'm really impressed by their morale, discipline and how they care for each other.

    Україна назавжди

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Citation for number of deaths:

    Citation for local languages being outlawed in the Ukraine:

    The West itself has announced that it would not intervene in the conflict.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Cool, thank you. What I take from these references is that there have been approximately 13000 people killed overall, not 13000 people killed by Ukrainian Army forces exclusively, and that the Ukrainian legislative body attempted to pass a law banning languages other than Ukrainian but was rebuffed by the Supreme Court. What these facts together suggest is that Ukraine is a country in conflict and perhaps a country divided. They do not suggest to me that Ukraine is a terrible country and needs the tender guiding hand of Russian autocracy to straighten itself out.

      In regard to the point about the West staying out of the conflict, that's pretty consistent with Western policy: stay out of civil wars unless genocide is occurring.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        The language is like a lot of issues, ie complex. Eastern Europe had a LOT of them, and in typical Soviet fashion, solved it by creating the Cyrillic alphabet and expecting everyone to use it. But the original language was probably Old Slavic, and things got lost in translation. Like 'yats'. Then trying to transliterate Kiev / Kyiv from Old Slavic to Cyrillic, then romanising it with a letter that's fallen out of usage.

        But an old challenge. When Kyi and his brothers came back and told their sister what they'd called the new settlement, she was Lyvid.

        (On which point, Netflix has a fun show called 'Crakow Monsters', which includes some Old Slavic & folklore )

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Before anybody gets too sanctimonious about what Ukraine may or may not have done regarding languages, it's worth noting the status of languages such as Welsh and Breton, that are now starting to do better after many years of oppression (Welsh starting to be accepted somewhere in the early 20th century, Breton in the 1960s, and this recentness means that it's still an endangered language).

        I note also that BSL is about to receive official language status. What took so long?

        So that the government of a country tries to restrict and deny minority languages isn't good, but it's nothing we haven't tried in the fairly recent past with our own native minority languages, never mind those of immigrants.

  6. W.S.Gosset Silver badge


    Good luck, mate. To you, your family, all Ukrainians.

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge


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