Ukraine Unlocked

Amnesty International Faces Global Tribunal

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The Week of August 8th - 15th

This Week's Takeaway in 30-Seconds...
As Russians continue to freely travel abroad, a debate is arising over whether citizens should be held accountable for their countries' actions. Back in Ukraine fears are growing that a nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia could be further damaged, running the risk of contaminating the local environment. Amnesty International already poisoned its reputation with its most recent report, according to its former in-country director. In the cultural space, leaders of the Arsenal Museum fast-tracked a new exhibit to color the emotions surrounding the war. 
Keep reading below to learn more!

A Ukrainian soldier in Mykolaiv walks through a damaged school. Credit: New York Times/David Berehulak
Ukraine Unlocked is a weekly newsletter providing a roundup of the cultural, political, and economic developments in the country. We hope to provide students, professionals, and the casual reader with greater insight into Ukraine as its role on the global stage evolves throughout the 21st century. 
Passport control point in the Netherlands. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
 Holding Countries and Citizens Accountable 
  • Are Citizens Responsible for Their Government? Ukraine and its supporters have been making a concerted push for European countries to ban Russians from entering their countries. In an interview with the Washington Post, President Zelenskyy said that closing borders to Russian citizens is “the most important sanction.” The Czech Republic has been the most strident supporter of this move, as they banned visas for all Russian citizens, except in humanitarian cases, following the invasion. Estonia has also backed this measure, announcing this week that it will refuse entrance to Russian citizens with E.U. visas. Estonia is a major transit hub for Russians to access the rest of the E.U.
    • Pushback: Not all countries are on board with this tactic. German Chancellor Scholz said that “this is Putin’s war.” He added that targetting everyday Russians would reduce the effectiveness of the sanctions that Western countries have already implemented. The U.S. took a similiar position through the State Department, where officials said they do not want sanctions to harm ordinary individuals. 
  • Victims Demand Justice: In January of 2020, the Iranian Revoulitary Guards shot down a Ukranian International Airlines plane leaving Tehran and heading to Kyiv. All 176 people on the flight were killed in the attack, with almost all the passengers either being Canadian or Iranian. Now families of the victims in Canada are marching to the capital of Ottawa to demand greater transparency and accountability during the investigation from the Iranian and Canadian governments. 
 Human Moment: 
 One company in New York is making action figurines of President Zelenskyy, with proceeds going towards Ukrainian refugees. 
The Arsenal Museum in Kyiv. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Contextualizing War
  • More Celebs: American film producer and actress Jessica Chastain made a visit to Kyiv and met with Zelenskyy during her trip. The actress is well known for her various roles in movies such as The Help and Interstellar, but she also starred in the war drama Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. 
  • Capturing the Current Through the Past: The Mystetskyi Arsenal museum in Kyiv inaugurated a new exhibit on June 10th, which aims to capture a national response to Russia’s invasion. But instead of commissioning new work, the museum is using art pieces created from the 1960s to the 2010s to try and evoke emotions about the country’s changing landscape. Organizers put the show together in a month, a much shorter timeline than the usual two years it takes to produce a new exhibit. 
  • Documentary Coming Soon: This week the makers of the documentary Against All Odds released a trailer for the upcoming screening this fall. The film is focusing on the first month of the invasion and is being coproduced by the Organization of Ukrainian Producers and Gingers Media.
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Amnesty International is receiving tremendous backlash for its report on Ukraine: Wikimedia Commons
Reaching the Unreachable
  • Condemning Amnesty International: On Saturday, Oksana Pokalchuk, the former director of Amnesty International’s office in Ukraine, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining her decision to resign, which we highlighted last week. She emphasized that Russian forces are trying to attack urban spaces and that it necessitates in some cases the Ukrainian military to set up defensive locations near civilian infrastructure. The authors of the Amnesty report did not confer with the office in Kyiv, nor did they give Ukraine’s Defense Ministry a chance to respond to the allegations. Ms. Pokalchuk underscored the effect of the report: “Far from protecting civilians, it further endangered them by giving Russia a justification to continue its indiscriminate attacks.”
  • Nuclear Blackmail: Multiple fires have broken out on the property of the Zaporizhzhian nuclear power plant. Russia is currently using the location as a military base and staging attacks near the plant to make it appear as if Ukraine’s military is conducting the strikes. According to Ukraine’s state energy company, Energoatom, Russia is using the threat of a nuclear meltdown to weaken Western military aid for Ukraine. 
  • Decisive Blow: On Tuesday, Ukrainian authorities destroyed eight Russian aircraft at an air force base in Crimea. Kremlin officials tried to deny the losses, but satellite images confirmed the destruction of the aircraft and several buildings. Russia has been using Crimea as a military staging zone for offensives in Ukraine. Russian officials previously believed that Ukrainian missiles could not reach the base. 
 Human Moment: 
An artificial intelligence system was given a few words about victory in Ukraine and produced a piece of art
Skyline of Tbilisi, Georgia, which has accepted thousands of refugees from Ukraine. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Humanitarian Crisis
  • Georgian Blues: Refugees in Georgia (the country) are struggling to find adequate housing after the government ended a free-housing program in hotels on August 1st. While Georgian authorities made it clear that the program was temporary, the refugees were only given a two-week notice to find new housing. Instead, the government offered a three-month temporary-aid program, which amounts to about $110 per family plus $46 for every member. However, rent prices in the country are about two to three times higher than what families are currently receiving.
Looking to lend support to Ukraine? Below are some ways you can help:
  • Help forPEACE, which seeks to connect foreign donations with on-the-ground organizations in Ukraine
  • Donate to the Ukrainian military (will need google translate on your computer)
  • Donate to Ukrainian NGO Come Back Alive
  • Help Ukrainian refugees in Poland
McDonald's in Kyiv. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Economic Hope
  • McDonald’s to Reopen in Ukraine: After a nearly six-month hiatus, McDonald’s announced that it would begin to reopen restaurants throughout Kyiv and western Ukraine over the next few months. The international company has paid its nearly 10,000 Ukrainian employees over the last six months in a sign of support. Proponents of the decision hope it will help stimulate the war-torn economy. 
  • Default: After international creditors gave Ukraine a two-year freeze on its loan paybacks, the global credit raters S&P and Fitch announced that Ukraine had entered selective and restrictive default. S&P said that the loan freeze was “distressed and tantamount to default.”
  • More Ships Leave Ukraine: Over the past two weeks, fourteen ships have left Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. On Friday, the first ship with wheat intended for human consumption left the port and headed towards a  province in northwestern Turkey. Ukraine has an estimated 20 million tons of grain left over from last year, most of which has been stuck in harbors because of Russia’s blockade.
    • Virtuous Distraction: While the grain deal was momentous, it does not address another core issue: Russian artillery destroying agricultural fields in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Eduard Stukalo, a farmer from the city of Sloviansk located in eastern Ukraine, believes he lost nearly 75 acres of wheat because of artillery fire. He also emphasized, “No one wants to go there to harvest, because everyone is afraid of incoming missiles… We were risking our lives also when we sowed the fields in April and May this year.” 
To help people pursue their passions about the Eurasian region we are collecting jobs that are connected to the area. If you have a relevant job you would like posted here please contact us. 
Entry Level Mid-Career Senior Level 
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. We always look forward to engaging with our readers. 

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