An Interest in Ukraine Led to Romance


Isaac Webb could not have imagined, back in high school in Maine, that his desire to avoid physics and calculus would eventually lead him to a career, love and marriage. But, it could be argued, that is exactly how it happened.

Mr. Webb still wanted to be attractive to competitive colleges, so after reading Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” he thought he might have found an alternative path toward evidence of his merit. Instead of signing on for advanced placement courses in high school that didn’t interest him, he enrolled in Russian language and history classes at a nearby college.

“I thought if I could show some sort of uniqueness, that might compensate,” said Mr. Webb, who is now 28 and graduated from Washington & Lee University. He also received a master’s degree in Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian studies from Stanford, and, in May, received a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. “Honestly, it was a bit of a gambit, but it paid off, like so many things,” he said.

In 2014, he was in Kyiv, Ukraine, on a Fulbright scholarship and writing for the English-language newspaper Kyiv Post, when Linda Kinstler, who then worked at The New Republic, contacted him hoping for a little of his time. She was there to cover the civil unrest in Ukraine, known as the Euromaidan movement, which had evolved into a full-scale revolution.

Ms. Kinstler, who is now 29, is a freelance writer and doctoral candidate in rhetoric at Berkeley. She graduated from Bowdoin College and received master’s degrees in literature, from the University of Cambridge, and in research architecture, from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Mr. Webb remembers that she came to their appointed meeting place on Independence Square in Kyiv, and, already swayed by her work, he found himself attracted to her as well. “She was obviously a very talented writer and reporter,” he said, “and she was cute.”

The two had acquaintances in common in addition to their professional interests. They spent much of the next week getting together again and again. “She’s a Russian speaker as well, so we just had this whole world of interests that overlapped,” he said.

He had already planned to land in Washington, where she then lived, a few months later, at the conclusion of his time in Kyiv, and she invited him to stay in touch. (Mr. Webb is to begin later this month at the State Department’s office of the legal adviser, where he is to become a lawyer-adviser.)

A correspondence between the two ensued, and she started to get the feeling that his motivation wasn’t solely their common interests. “But you don’t want to make it something that it’s not,” she said.

When he arrived in Washington, he asked Ms. Kinstler if she would like to get together some afternoon.

“I wasn’t sure if it was platonic or not, and I was very concerned that this was just going to be a professional interaction,” Ms. Kinstler said. “So I upped it to a drink.”

After a second date, he walked her home and two shared their first kiss. Their relationship evolved quickly. “Summer was becoming fall, and we were trying to spend every waking moment together,” he said.

On Aug. 11, at the shore of Panther Pond in Raymond, Maine, the couple were married before a dozen or so guests. Charles McGowan Boyle, a childhood friend of the groom and a member of Maine’s bar, officiated.

They had planned an October wedding with 170 guests in Washington, but scaled it down because of the coronavirus.

The couple were married on the same day that Mr. Webb’s parents celebrated their 36th anniversary, and his grandparents celebrated their 64th. That made 100 years of marriage on that date already in his family. “It ended up being quite nice,” Mr. Webb said.



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