Ukraine Unlocked

David And Goliath: How Ukraine's Military Is Fending Off Russia

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Week of 4/8-4/15

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. 
Special congratulations to Ukraine Unlocked's co-founder Philip Kopatz for successfully defending his master's thesis at The Ohio State University this week. The thesis focuses on Soviet Ukrainian writers living in Kharkiv in the 1920s and 30s.
This Week's Takeaway...
Ukraine's ability to fend off Russia's invasion surprised many outside observers. On paper, Russia's military dwarfs Ukraine in nearly every metric including the number of troops, ships, and aircraft. However, NATO-member countries have been providing military training to Ukraine since 2014 and have been integral in transforming their armed forces. Like many analysts in the West, Putin thought that Russia's armed forces would easily overpower Ukraine's smaller military. The 2022 invasion of Ukraine has shown that the Ukrainian military has evolved since 2014 by maximizing their personnel, allowing them to stymie the Russian offensive. 

How has Ukraine utilized cutting-edge strategies to repel Russia's military? Read more here.
A Request from Philip and Gabe (Co-Founders of Ukraine Unlocked): If you are enjoying this newsletter please consider forwarding it along to a friend, colleague, or neighbor. As the situation in Ukraine continues to evolve we are hoping to give folks the context they need to understand the various developments coming out of the country. 
Smoke from a rocket attack in Mariupol Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Strategic Update – Week 7 of War
  • Chemical Weapons? On Monday, Ukraine’s Azov battalion alleged that Russian troops used a poisonous substance in Mariupol, leading to respiratory issues among civilians. UK and US officials said they could not verify the claims, and President Zelenskyy only said they are seriously investigating allegations. However, chemical weapons experts and investigative journalists expressed skepticism about the initial reports, pointing to a lack of verifiable evidence.
    • Battle for Mariupol Rages On: Ukrainian officials sounded the alarms on Wednesday and said that Russia was preparing to re-concentrate its forces on taking Mariupol. Kremlin officials claimed that a brigade of 1,000 Ukrainian marines surrendered on Wednesday, but the report is still unverified. The Kremlin’s announcement comes a day after the same Ukrainian marine unit reported that “there is no ammunition left. There will only be hand-to-hand combat from here on. There will be death for some and captivity for others."
  • Carnage in Kramatorsk: On April 8th, a Russian artillery strike on the Kramatorsk’s railway station, located in the Donetsk oblast, killed 50 civilians and injured another 98. Civilians were trying to flee to western Ukraine after reports of Russian forces indiscriminately killing and torturing residents in Bucha. Official Russian media accounts at first claimed the attack but quickly deleted the posts after it became clear that civilians had been killed.
  • Saving Zoo Animals: The Feldman Echo park in Kharkiv announced on April 5th that they might have to euthanize their tigers and other large predators because Russian artillery had damaged enclosures. The damaged enclosures meant that predators could escape and put workers’ lives in danger. However, the zoo has since received enough monetary and logistical support to transport many animals to other zoos safely.
  • Blasting Russia’s Flagship Vessel: On Wednesday, Kremlin officials reported a fire aboard the warship Moskva after an ammunition stockpile exploded. However, Ukrainian leaders said that the explosion came after a successful missile strike on the ship. The vessel has been an integral part of Russia’s war effort in southern Ukraine and analysts expected it to play a crucial role in Russia’s renewed effort in the Donbas.
Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy take a walking tour of Kyiv. Credit: Flickr
Diplomatic Tour Continues 
  • Johnson’s Surprise: Winston Churchill famously flew around Europe during World War II on numerous occasions, often with no fighter escort. In an unexpected visit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson channeled his best Churchill impersonation by visiting Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Further showing his lack of fear the PM even opted for a short walking tour of the city. Johnson used the opportunity to heap praise on Zelenskyy’s leadership and pledge further military support from the UK.
  • Baltic Backing: Kyiv also had a visit from the leaders of Poland and the Baltic nations. The group reaffirmed their political and military support for Ukraine during the trip. The Baltic nations have been closely following the situation in Ukraine. The invasion has stoked new fears in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia that Russia could attack them next because of their shared borders. The Latvian Defense Minister has even requested a permanent presence of US troops in his country to deter the threat of invasion.
    • Back in Estonia: Outside of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn, protestors stood with bags over their heads and red paint running down their legs. The protest comes after reports of Russian soldiers raping Ukrainian women.
  • Biden Calls it Genocide: Last week in our analysis piece we discussed the implications of world leaders calling the atrocities in Bucha a genocide. On Tuesday, Biden said “I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be Ukrainian.” Yet Biden seems to be falling into the same trap of inaction. After he called the events transpiring a genocide, his staff went on CNN and said there would be no change in policy from the administration. 
Artwork cover for Pink Floyd's new single "Hey, Hey Rise Up." Credit: Pink Floyd, Brooklyn Vegan
Music of War
  • Defiant Pianist: In Moscow, musician Alexei Lyubimov performed a recital of Ukrainian music in front of a small audience before police arrested him in the middle of the concert. Police claimed that someone called in a bomb threat for the building, yet a search of the area did not turn up any explosives. The pianist finished his song before officers led him away.
  • Pink Floyd Reunion for Ukraine: Legendary rock band, Pink Floyd, reunited to write and record the song “Hey, Hey Rise Up.” The song features a Ukrainian artist turned solider who was injured by a mortar strike. This is the band’s first single in nearly twenty years. Proceeds will be donated to Ukrainian humanitarian efforts.
  • Modern Art Captures Ukrainian Traditions: Ukrainian photographer Anna Senik has used her camera to capture her fellow countrymen and women in traditional garments. Like many others, Senik has stepped away from her day job to serve in Ukraine’s military.  You can see her portraits here.
The war has negatively affected economic growth projections. Credit: The Copenhagen Post
Economic Woes
  • War could cause a Global Recession: The World Trade Organization announced that the average projected growth of the world’s economies is already down from 4.1 percent before the war to 2.8 percent. Sanctions, disruptions to food supply chains, and the refugee crisis associated with the war only exacerbate economic issues related to COVID. The World Bank said that “the war has added to mounting concerns about a sharp global slowdown.”
  • More U.S. Aid to Ukraine: President Biden announced Wednesday that the United States would be sending another $800 million in ammunition, weapons, and other forms of security assistance to Ukraine. The package includes helicopters, artillery systems and munitions, and armored personnel carriers. Some of the items had been designated for the Afghani military before its collapse following the US withdrawal from the country. The aid will likely be used to fight off renewed attacks in Ukraine’s east.
The war is causing disruptions in the global food supply chain. Credit: Orissa Post
Humanitarian Crisis 
  • Global Humanitarian Ramifications: The United Nations announced that the war is putting 1.7 billion people at risk of experiencing  “disruptions in food, energy and finance systems that are triggering increases in poverty and hunger.” Those individuals are spread across 107 countries and are already experiencing issues with food, energy, and financial institutions. The war’s impact transcends Eastern Europe and may exacerbate the situation in many countries who are still reeling from COVID. The ripple effects are likely to have some ramifications for Western countries that receive goods from the 107 countries.
Some Human Moments Prevail
Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding the war in Ukraine, videos shared over social media show that humanity still exists.  
  • Ukraine sunk the Russian battleship Moskva this week. The ship became infamous after Ukrainian troops told Russian sailors aboard the vessel to “Go f*ck themselves” after they demanded a surrender.
    • One meme of the event.
    • Ukraine’s postal service developed some stamps surrounding the event.
  • Washington DC based Chef Jose Andres’ non-profit World Central Kitchen continues to serve Ukrainian refugees hot food in Poland. 
Want to Help Ukraine?
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
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. 

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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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