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.
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This Week's Takeaway...
War reporting often overlooks one of the most consequential actions of combat: gender-based violence. While there are reports of Russian soldiers raping Ukrainian women and children, domestic violence perpetrated by Ukrainian men toward their wives and children is rarely discussed. According to the World Bank during both war and peacetime, domestic abuse is the most prominent form of violence committed against women around the world. The conflict in Ukraine is no exception, as officials worry that gender-based violence is on the rise. One Ukrainian woman noted that if the Russians do not kill her, then her husband might. The U.N. has made gender-based violence a key priority in its response to the Ukrainian-Russian war, but will it be enough to protect the hidden victims of the war?
What is the state of domestic violence in Ukraine and how is the International community responding…click here to read more.
This week's analysis is written by guest contributor Rachel Hutchison: She is a scholar of East European history, focusing on Cold War culture and women’s history in the Soviet Union. She received her master’s in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies from The Ohio State University.
Map of Russia's initial assault on Kherson. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Strategic Update – Week 14 of War
Artillery War: Ukrainian officials are asking for military aid from Western countries as the war transitions to more artillery battles between the two sides. The Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate said that Russia has 10 to 15 missiles for every one of Ukraine’s. The Ukrainian military is currently using the last of its Soviet-era armaments and will require regular shipments to keep up with Russia.
Training Day: One issue may arise if Western countries decide to ship newer weapons, as soldiers will need to be trained on the modern systems. Up until now, Ukraine’s allies have sent their Soviet-era stockpiles because of the military's familiarity with how to use them. Other modern weapons that have been shipped previously in large quantities, such as the Javelin missiles, are easy to operate and require little training. But if Ukrainians are supplied with more advanced systems that require greater instruction, then it may delay how quickly they can be deployed.
Severodonetsk Still Standing: Russian troops have still not captured Severodonetsk, despite weeks of concentrated attacks on the city. Russian artillery has decimated numerous villages surrounding the city, but Ukrainian forces still control the main industrial areas in the town. Analysts report that the progression of fighting is very similar to Mariupol: the street-by-street fighting is slow, and it is difficult to determine who is in control of strategic locations.
Handing Out Passports: Two weeks ago, President Putin signed a decree that streamlined the process for Ukrainians to apply for a Russian passport. The law took effect this week, with Kremlin officials issuing nearly 50 passports to Ukrainians in Kherson and Melitopol in a few days. Ukrainian officials urged citizens not to apply for Russian passports but are worried that they could be required for employment in the occupied areas.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Access Denied: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov canceled his trip to Serbia after Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro all closed their airspace to his plane. The closure made it impossible for Russia’s top diplomat to visit the Baltic country. Russian officials slammed the move, labeling it “Russophobia,” but also responded with humor stating, “Our diplomacy has yet to master teleportation.”
Media Blackout: Latvia has banned Russian-based television from being broadcasted until the Kremlin withdraws from Ukraine and returns the Crimean Peninsula to Kyiv. The ban will mean the loss of access to about 80 channels which may draw the ire of Latvia’s sizeable Russian-speaking population. Latvian authorities are allowing the Independent-Russian Channel “Rain,” which closed in response to pressure from the Kremlin, to continue operations in the country.
Death Sentence: Two captured British nationals and one Moroccan, who had been fighting with the Ukrainian military have been sentenced to death by a court in the Russian-occupied territory of Donetsk. U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss condemned the ruling and summoned the Russian ambassador, claiming it violated the Geneva convention.
The Kyiv Opera. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Defiant Ukrainian Culture
No More Tolstoy: In Ukraine Unlocked’s analysis last week we discussed the complex task of disentangling Ukraine’s history from Russia’s. This week, Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science took decisive action on this issue by announcing that the famous Russian book War and Peace, written by Leo Tolstoy, will no longer be taught in classrooms. Deputy Minister of Education Andrey Vitrenko announced that a forthcoming list of books that “promote Russian propaganda” will be removed from schools and libraries.
Opera Reopens: In late May the Kyiv opera made a quiet reopening, starting with the Barber of Seville. The following week the theater changed course and began a marketing blitz for the Ukrainian-composed show, Natalka Poltavka. The organization worked through certain logistical challenges of putting on a show during wartime, such as how to evacuate in case of an air raid.
War Rap: Otoy, a Ukrainian rapper turned volunteer soldier, is using his experience in war to produce new songs. The artist’s music uses a plethora of expletives directed at Russia, showing his hatred for the country and its invasion. Otoy has felt the impact of the war in a deeply personal way, losing his brother during the infamous Azovstal steel works siege in Mariupol.
English is now a recognized business language in Ukraine. Credit: pxhere
Toy Factory Reopens: After a three-month hiatus, a toy factory in Kyiv has restarted its operations. The Ugears factory collected over $800,000 in donations, which has helped them survive despite a dip in sales. The company ships internationally and there is free shipping to the U.S. on orders over $50 dollars. Each online purchase includes a five-euro donation to the Ukrainian army.
Business English: Ukraine’s Prime Minister announced earlier this week that English can be officially recognized as a business language in the country. The PM hopes that it will attract more investment and help speed up Ukraine’s integration into the E.U.
McDonald’s to Rebrand: Last month, McDonald’s sold all their restaurants in Russia to a local franchise owner. The restaurants reopened on Sunday under new name "Tasty and that's it" and with a revamped menu. Sunday marked both Russia’s Independence Day and the anniversary of McDonald’s 1990 opening in Moscow. At the time, the appearance of McDonald’s represented an embrace between Russia and the West. The sale and rebranding of the iconic fast-food chain are symbolic of the break in their relations.
Ukrainian flag calling for countries to accept refugees. Credit: flickr
Organizations in the U.K. easing Transition: Around 100 Ukrainian refugees have resettled in the city of Bath but have found the transition difficult due to the language barrier. Local organizations, such as Bath Welcomes Refugees, are now offering free language classes to help them settle into their new homes. One woman from Odesa said, "We had everything, a normal job, car home, friends, but when we arrived here we had nothing. I didn't know the language which meant I couldn't work…We go to classes to try and learn English. It means we can start a new life."
Some Human Moments Prevail
Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding the war in Ukraine, videos shared over social media show that humanity still exists.
A Russian blogger and alpinist summited Mt. Everest but unfurled a Ukrainian flag at the top.
Ukrainian students still celebrated their prom, even though their school had been bombed.
Despite Ukraine’s FIFA qualifying loss to Wales, fans on both sides remained amicable.
Dan Reynolds, of the band Imagine Dragons,held the Ukrainian flag while performing in Prague.
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