Beyond Tax Returns: How the IRS is Combatting Cybercrime

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The Week of May 8th - May 15th

This Week's Takeaway in 30 Seconds...
Cyber criminal overlaying the Ukrainian flag. Credit: Jernej Furman via Wikimedia Commons
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Check out our new Twitter account!
Performances and speeches are the major themes this week. In Liverpool, Ukraine’s Tvorchi performed in the 2023 Eurovision Contest moments after learning that their hometown had been attacked by Russian rockets. In Moscow, Russians saw a scaled-back victory parade highlighting the huge military losses the Kremlin has experienced during their invasion. While there was only one Russian tank in Red Square, American tanks are being stripped of their top-secret features before they are shipped, providing Ukraine a slight edge on the battlefield. That’s not the only help the U.S. is providing, as the IRS is training Ukrainian tax enforcement officers on cryptocurrency investigations.
All this and more in this week's newsletter!

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.

Victory Day Parade in Moscow last year. Credit: Presidential Executive Office of Russia via Wikimedia Commons
A New Look for Victory
  • Zelenskyy Talks Trump: Zelenskyy is again traveling around Europe in hopes of drumming up support for the Ukrainian war effort. During a stop in Italy, one member of the press asked about Trump’s recent commitment to end the war in 24 hours if he became president again. Zelenskyy commented: "Trump was the president, we had a meeting. There was no full-scale invasion at the time, but there was a war. ...I'm not sure whether he was deeply involved in this issue at the time, but he didn't solve it.” As the 2024 presidential campaigns start to heat up in the U.S., it will be interesting to see if Zelenskyy or other Ukrainian politicians weigh in about who they want to work with next.
  • Scaled Back Victory: Russia traditionally celebrates May 9th as "Victory Day," marking the Soviet Union's defeat over Nazi Germany. Typically, the Kremlin uses the holiday as a reason to host military celebrations around the country, but most prominently on Red Square in Moscow. Past parades have included large displays of military equipment but this year was noticeably different. Absent were Russia’s air force, paratroopers, and the entirety of its tank fleet. The only tank that made it into the parade was a T-34 which had been first used during WWII. The Institute for the Study of War has said that the scaled-back parade shows just how bad Russian losses in Ukraine have been.

Human Moment:

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, honors the moms of Ukraine.

Ukrainian band Tvorchi. Credit: UAStepan via Wikimedia Commons
Not the Eurovision We Were Expecting
  • Tvorchi Performs as Hometown is Attacked: The Ukrainian pop duo, Tvorchi, performed their song “Heart of Steel” at Eurovision on Saturday. Before and during the performance, Russia launched rocket attacks at Ternopil, the city that Tvorchi claims as its hometown. The attack left two people injured and prompted Ukraine to accuse Russia of intentionally launching the attack to distract from the performance. Ultimately, Tvorchi fell short of repeating Ukraine’s victory last year at the competition. The Swedish group Loreen won with their performance of “Tattoo.”
    • Zelenskyy Barred From Speaking: To the dismay of both Ukrainian and British politicians, President Zelenskyy was not allowed to deliver a televised speech to Eurovision’s audience. The European Broadcasting Union, the group that televises the competition, said remarks from Zelenskyy would risk jeopardizing its “non-political nature.”
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A decimated Bakhmut in February 2023 Credit: via Wikimedia Commons
The Changing Tides 
  • Ukraine’s Advance into Bakhmut: In mid-March, analysts believed Russia was on the brink of capturing Bakhmut and forcing Ukraine to withdraw from the war-torn city. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s army broke through enemy lines, forcing Russia to play defense for the first time in months. Russia has not captured a Ukrainian city in 10 months, with Bakhmut being the center of fighting for the last six months. A Ukrainian victory would likely persuade its Western allies to ramp up aid, whereas a prolonged stalemate may revive urges for Ukraine and Russia to negotiate for peace.
  • U.S. Secrecy: In January, the Biden administration gave into months of external pressure and pledged to supply Ukrainian forces with Abrams tanks. A cohort of Ukrainian soldiers recently began a 10-week intensive training program, with the tanks slated to see the battlefield in early autumn. In the meantime, Pentagon officials are stripping the Abrams of their more advanced technology, such as targeting systems, since Russians will likely recover an intact tank on the battlefield after deployment. Regardless, Ukrainians will receive a lower-tech version that still boasts a formidable 120mm gun, giving them an edge over Russian equipment. 

🪖 Human Moment: 🪖 

A Ukrainian soldier recreates the coat of arms using bullets.

Bitcoin, the most well-known crytocurrency. Credit:

Fighting on the Fringes of the Economy

  • Crypto Chronicles: On Thursday, the IRS began a week-long training program to teach 50 Ukrainian law enforcement officers advanced techniques in cryptocurrency investigation. Amassing cryptocurrency is one avenue that Russian oligarchs are using to sidestep sanctions. By the end of the training, the officers will have licenses to use the crypto investigation tool Chainalysis Reactor. In the past year, roughly 100 pro-Russian organizations have solicited crypto donations for a total of $5 million.
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
Historical development of Ukraine's flag Credit: Visuals non-profit via Wikimedia Commons
Persevering Through the Centuries
  • Erasing a Language: In temporarily occupied areas of Ukraine, Russian officials have forced businesses to switch to Russian and schools to adopt a Russian-language curriculum. Furthermore, Russian forces have destroyed 473 uniquely Ukrainian cultural sights over the past year. The moves are informed by erroneous Russian beliefs that Ukraine does not have its own legitimate culture. Some background below on Ukraine’s struggle for recognition under Russian rule:
    • The 19th Century: Russia’s onslaught against Ukraine’s culture is part of a long history that spans hundreds of years. In the 1860s and 70s, the Tsar of the Russian Empire issued decrees banning publications, stage performances, and readings in Ukrainian. The language survived in everyday use in the villages and small political circles. 
    • Soviet Life in the 20th Century: In the 1920s, Ukrainian culture had a short yet intense revival under Soviet rule. However, Joseph Stalin repealed “Ukrainization” in the 1930s, arresting and executing most Ukrainian writers, playwrights, and intellectuals. Another short revival in the 1960s gave Ukraine’s language and culture enough energy to survive until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and an independent Ukraine formed. However, there were long-lasting impacts: for the next 25 years, Ukrainian television, music, and other industries were dominated by the Russian language. Over the last ten years, a new generation has adopted Ukrainian again, and Russia is trying to stop that transformation.
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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