Drinking Vodka With Russian Separatists: Russian Road Trip (Part 1/3)

Drinking Vodka With Russian Separatists: Russian Road Trip (Part 1/3)


This is blood. And there’s something about it that’s
just firing up my brain right now. Vodka! There’s lots and lots of
different kinds. -I like this bottle aesthetically.
-No, no. It’s disgusting! Okay, something good. Something good
that won’t make us sick. Whoa. That’s an amazing shirt. I’m getting this. We live in nuclear times. Not long ago, the mushroom cloud was
an antiquated fear. Something that belonged in the age
of Kissinger, cold wars, Reagan, and your grandparents. But now it’s back. With Trump and Kim both publicly flirting with the
mythical red button, is it time to learn to stop worrying
and love the bomb? We’re on a mission to confront this
nuclear reality. And to do it, we’re heading to the
Polygon, the birthplace of the Soviet Union’s deep relationship
with the doomsday machine. It’s a place of destruction
on a biblical level. A place where life was worth little
more than atoms. Where people were destroyed. And governments transformed a
landscape to hell itself. The Polygon is located at
Semipalatinsk in northeast Kazakhstan. And was the site of over
400 nuclear tests. During these tests, the people who
lived there were exposed to the most terrible long-term effects of
nuclear science. And the place remains highly
radioactive, even today. On our quest to see the Polygon,
we’ll drive across Russia through Siberia and into Kazakhstan
to learn about the former Soviet Union and the present day effects
of their nuclear past. I’m traveling with my two
co-workers, Dina and Danielle, who luckily for me
both speak Russian. Our first stop was Novosibirsk. A city once built around
a single bridge, but is now Russia’s third largest. We arrived on Russia Day. A holiday that does exactly what it
says on the label. Russia Day is a relatively new
holiday. We didn’t have it when
I was growing up. So, I guess we’re going
to find out more today what this holiday really is. But it seems like
it’s very patriotic. Oh, this is intense. The speakers ranged
from Russian military to new wannabe
imperialist groups, while some of the crowd
carried anti-US signs. Much like in America
and Western Europe, Russia’s nationalist sentiment has
been growing over the last decade. And today, the nationalist message
also carries with it a strong anti-American sentiment. On the face of it, not a great day
to be an American in Russia. We were due to hang out at a
compound deep in the Altai mountains where nationalists and military
veterans barbecue together and bond over patriotism. We wanted to bond too. So we brought some vodka. Because if there’s one thing
Americans and Russians can bond over, it’s getting wasted. We don’t exactly know
what to expect. Or how they’re going to perceive us
for that matter. Which is a little bit scary. I’m not sure how they feel about
Americans or Jews or Muslims which is what we all are. I’ll bet you money I’m the first
Pakistani guy who has ever set foot in this place. I’m from America. From America? From New York. But don’t worry, we’re friendly. Our tour guide, Sasha, seemed like
a pretty chill guy. And he hospitably invited us to have
dinner with him and his friends to learn more about their mission
and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. To the ladies! To our lovely ladies. Cheers to you. Awesome. Is this pork? -Oh, this is fucking good.
-It’s good, right? Little haram, little haram. Sasha says he return from
the war in 2015. News reports indicate that this was
when the Russian military was trying to repatriate Ukraine. Although the United States officially condemns
Russian’s invasion, Sasha believes America has played a
role in inciting the conflict. What’s the next frontline
after Ukraine? I can’t speak the lingo, but Sasha and Danielle seem
to be getting along pretty well. So through the haze of a hangover,
they went for a boat trip. We’re going to die like right now! What’s over there? My time with Sasha was
surprisingly moving. It was apparent that he’s haunted
by the realities of war. And regardless of our
conflicting beliefs, as a person, I do hope
the best for him. Beyond the lines drawn by
geopolitics, history, and war, we’d all made friends. We said goodbye and continued our
long journey towards the Polygon. We are at an antler blood farm. Cheers!

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