Ukraine Unlocked

Germany Jams Up Tank Delivery

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The Week of January 16th - January 23rd

This Week's Takeaway in 30 Seconds...
The German Leopard 2 Tank which could be sent to Ukraine. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Ukraine's Minster of the Interior lost his life after a helicopter carrying the official and his team crashed out of Kyiv. The cause of the investigation is still under investigation but this has been the most senior official to have died since Russia launched its invasion. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is trying to keep things from spinning out of control in his own country and Europe as he faces increased pressure to allow allies to ship the German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. While Scholz struggles, U.S. Secretary of State is trying to get out ahead of any issues that may arise within the Ukrainian diaspora community in America. He spent two days this past week in Chicago speaking with leaders of the community and thanking them for all they are doing for their family and friends back in Ukraine. On the businesses front,  SLB, a massive oilfield firm, has been undeterred by sanctions against Russia, growing their operations in the country by 25%
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.

Secretary Blinken visiting the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago. Credit: U.S. State Department
Meetings, Sit-Downs, and Chats
  • War Tourist: Brian Wang, an American firearms instructor, traveled to Ukraine to help train soldiers on how to use weapons. However, when it was time to fight he was left back at camp due to his lack of battlefield experience. While back at base, he overstated his expertise, claiming to be a medic while treating a dying Ukrainian soldier. There are other allegations that Wang has trained Ukrainian soldiers in areas he has no background in, leading some to believe Wang is in the country for his own glory, not Ukraine’s.
  • Blinken Visits Diaspora: In a tour of America’s Windy City, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sat down with leaders in Chicago’s Ukrainian diaspora community. He used the visit to thank local groups for the support they have provided to family and friends in Ukraine. Blinken also provided an update on what the State Department is doing to ensure aid continues to flow into the country. After the meeting, he checked out the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art’s newest exhibition, which we featured in one of our previous newsletters.
    • Personal Connection: Antony Blinken also stopped by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics (IOP) to help commemorate the organization’s 10-year anniversary. Our co-founder Gabe Pimsler is a current staff member at the IOP. You can watch the interview that Blinken did with IOP founder David Axelrod here
  • In Davos: World leaders gathered for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland this past week to discuss a bevy of issues and opportunities that are facing economies around the globe. While support for Ukraine has been prominent in conversations among leaders participating in the gathering, some have said that in private talks amongst business leaders there has been lackluster interest in Ukraine. Representatives from Ukraine have been requesting lethal aid and asking that corporations pledge to support the country as it rebuilds after the war. 

 Human Moment: 

Brave Russians continue to bring flowers to a pop-up memorial in Moscow for victims of Russia’s attack on Dnipro, Ukraine despite facing arrest.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization logo. Credit: Free SVG Image
World-Class Protection
  • Stop The Looting: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is hoping to prevent looted Ukrainian art from being trafficked throughout Europe. UNESCO teamed up with Poland’s Ministry of Culture to develop a three-day workshop for law enforcement agencies in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova to help them identify stolen pieces. Poland knows the pains of having its culture stolen: during WWII the Nazis and Soviets stole many famous pieces of art.
  • Jailed Over a Song: Belarusian artist Meryem Herasimenka, a well-known singer in the country, is facing up to four years in prison for singing a Ukrainian song. Herasimenka performed the song at a bar in Minsk back in August and initially faced 30 days in jail. Following her arrest, authorities launched a larger probe which resulted in her being accused of “actively participating in group actions that grossly violate public order.” Belarus is a close ally of Russia’s and has no qualms about jailing perceived threats to the Lukashenko regime.
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Helicopter crash in Brovary, east of Kyiv. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Mid-Winter Mayhem
  • Crash Kills Top Officials: On January 18th, a helicopter transporting top officials in the Ministry of the Interior crashed just east of Kyiv next to a kindergarten and apartment complex. The crash claimed the lives of all ten people onboard, including the Minister of the Interior, as well as four people on the ground. Denys Monastyrsky, the interior minister, is the most senior official to have been killed since Russia invaded last February. 
    • What We Know So Far: The group was enroute to Bakhmut, which has been a deadly fighting zone since August. The security services office has not established a cause, but an investigation is underway that will take several weeks to conclude. Authorities are considering several possibilities, including technical malfunction, pilot violation of flight rules, or foul play. Some witnesses on the ground have said the weather that day had intense fog-cover.
  • Search for Survivors Ends in Dnipro: On January 17th, authorities ended search-and-rescue efforts in the rubble of a destroyed apartment building in Dnipro. A Russian missile decimated the building last weekend. As of Saturday, there were 79 reported injuries and 45 confirmed deaths. There are still 19 people missing, but the security services office does not expect to find any more survivors. 
  • No Decision on Tanks: Despite mounting pressure from NATO allies, Germany has still not committed to sending Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine. Kyiv officials have been asking their allies in the West to send tanks for months which would give them a major advantage over Russian forces, who still use Soviet-era tanks. Due to German national law, European countries such as Poland, Spain, and Finland, need explicit permission from Germany to transfer the equipment, despite their willingness to send the equipment. 

Human Moment: 

Olaf Scholz doing everything in his power to avoid sending tanks to Ukraine. 

Natural gas field in Russia. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Working Around Sanctions

  • Exploiting the Exodus: SLB, the world’s largest oilfield firm, has boosted its business interests in Russia by taking over service and equipment contracts from rivals who left the market after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company’s Russian reservoir division grew by 25% last quarter, which was double the growth of their other divisions in north Africa and Asia. SLB has not violated U.S. or European sanctions because the measures taken do not completely restrict Russian oil production. SLB is able to sell oil to countries that have not imposed sanctions on Russia, including China, India, and Pakistan.  
    • Tunnel Vision: Members of the international community have levied sharp criticism against the company, with a Ukrainian official warning that its employees might get pulled into Russia’s mobilization efforts. However, SLB is not backing down. The company added 70 employees to its workforce of nearly 10,000 within Russia in late 2022 and has no plans on slowing its growth.
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
Ukrainian woman on oxygen. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Surviving Power Outages
  • Living with Disabilities During Blackouts: For many residents in Kyiv, the long stretches of electricity outages are challenging but not life threatening. However, for people living with disabilities, the blackouts can be deadly. There are roughly 2.7 million people with disabilities living in Ukraine, and the regular power outages make day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning, exercise, and even leaving their homes more challenging.
    • Close Calls: Yeva Venhlinska, a 75-year-old woman who has been battling lung cancer for five years, depends on an electric stationary oxygen tank to breathe. During blackouts, she uses battery-operated portable oxygen tanks. However, during an outage on December 18th, she was down to 30 minutes of battery left. Her daughter made the decision to call an expensive private medical company to transport her to a hospice facility, where doctors told her she was down to 80% oxygen and could have suffocated. 
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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