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Ukraine's 4A Games lands in Malta: 'We are not betrayers'

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Less than 24 hours ago, the leadership of 4A Games landed in Malta, fleeing the ongoing conflict that ravages Ukraine. The studio announced the move in May, just two months after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Eastern Ukrainian province of Crimea.

"Malta offers fantastic incentives for game development, and we are confident 4A games will be able to attract the very best talent from Ukraine, Malta and beyond," said head of business development Dean Sharpe.

In the months since their decision to move the leadership of the company abroad, tensions with Russia have increased. A passenger airliner was downed, killing hundreds and sparking global outcry. The Ukrainian government has reported that Russian forces are crossing its border on a regular basis, included recently in the guise of a humanitarian convoy. Russia denies the claims.

Just a few days before the photo above was taken on the tarmac in Malta, the owner of the studio, Andrew "Prof" Prokhorov, went to his personal Facebook page to discuss his mixed feelings about leaving. Sergey Galyonkin provided the following translation.

"Dear motherland," he wrote, "this morning we're leaving you for some time. Not because we don't love you, but because we have to — otherwise 4A Games will cease to exist — it's really hard to get investors while we're at war with [Putin]. We can understand publishers, but our hearts are sorrow and we feel like betrayers, because we're leaving our country in turmoil. We're not betrayers, we love you, Ukraine and we'll have with us a new part of Ukraine in not so distant Malta. 4A Games Malta is a Ukrainian company."

Prokhorov ended his post with what Galyonkin says is a turn of phrase traditional in the Ukrainian military.

"Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes! Death to enemies!"