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.
Home. For many Ukrainians, they can only dream of their homes as they try to assimilate into unfamiliar countries throughout Europe. They need food, shelter, and access to schools and medical facilities. However, the poorer European countries, such as Romania and Moldova, are struggling to provide adequate aid and properly integrate refugees. Most countries in Europe welcomed those fleeing war with the belief that they would be returning back to Ukraine soon. As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters month five, tensions are likely to rise and overtake the initial outpouring of sympathy and aid. A new report from World Vision suggests that Ukrainians living in refuge abroad could face increased hostility from their hosts the longer they stay.
How are European countries struggling to integrate refugees… read more here.
Amnesty International's Logo. Credit: Flickr
Blaming Ukraine: The international organization, Amnesty International, issued a controversial report this week. They accused the Ukrainian army of stationing troops too close to civilian locations, which could be considered war crimes. Numerous stakeholders issued immediate responses, including the Ukrainian government and most surprisingly Amnesty International’s Ukrainian branch, which stated that they tried to prevent the report from being published. Certain NPR reports backup Amnesty’s claims, stating that they saw Ukrainian military installations near civilian locations.
Leader Quits: The leader of Amnesty International’s Ukraine branch, Oksana Pokalchuk, quit in protest following the publication of the report. She stated that the organization does not understand the position Ukraine is being put in and that the report has become a tool for the Kremlin’s propaganda machine.
Staying Abroad: Ukraine’s education minister provided an update on the country’s student population. He announced that there are currently 4.2 million students in the educational system, but roughly 641,000 are still located outside of Ukraine. The education minister said that 30,000 students have returned since May, showing that some have resumed their studies within Ukraine.
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Strategic Update – Week 23 of War
Blame Game: Last week, Russian and Ukrainian officials accused each other of blowing up a Russian-ran prison in eastern Ukraine and killing more than 50 Ukrainian POWs. On Friday, both sides exchanged blame again after a missile hit a power line at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is the largest nuclear facility in Europe. Operators did not detect any radiation leakage but decided to disconnect one of the reactors out of an abundance of caution.
Planned Attacks: More evidence has emerged which indicates that Russian forces intentionally bombed the prison last week. Satellite images taken the day before the bombing depict freshly dug pits within the walls of the complex. Each one is six to seven feet wide and ten to fifteen feet long. A Ukrainian official speaking anonymously said they believe the pits were graves and that Russians were preparing for mass casualties. The International Red Cross has requested permission to access the site, but Russian officials have not granted them permission.
More Art to Ukraine:This year’s Manifesta Biennal is being held in Kosovo, but leaders of the event are arguing its next location should be in Ukraine. The nomadic biennial emerged in the '90s in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the start of integration between former eastern bloc countries and the rest of Europe. The director of the event, Hedwig Fijen, said that in 2028 the showcase should be held in Ukraine. Following the announcement, the Ukrainian Institue, a non-profit dedicated to promoting a better understanding of Ukraine, began the process of coordinating the various logistics of hosting.
Countering Disinfo: U.S. Ambassador Brink sat down with Ukraine’s Minister of Culture to discuss ways the two countries can support media outlets in Ukraine. More specifically, the two leaders talked about how they can counter Russian disinformation within the country while also bolstering Ukrainian artists and authors. While the U.S. has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to the country, no money has been earmarked for cultural restoration yet.
Belarus Singer Detained:Meriem Herasimenka, a Belarusian singer, was detained in Minsk this past week for performing a Ukrainian song. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a Belarusian activist living in exile, took to Twitter to demand the release of the artist. You can check out a snippet of her performance here.
A cargo ship in Ukraine's port city of Odesa in 2017. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Grain Deal Holding Up: This past week, three more cargo ships left Ukraine via the Black Sea and passed through the inspection port in Istanbul. Many are optimistic that the opening of shipping ports will help ease the global food crisis, but much of the backed-up grain is intended for animal feed and not human consumption. Experts hope that the flow of grain, even if it is intended for animals, will help reduce the overall burden on the global supply chain.
A donation table at Food Bank for Ukrainian Refugees in Budapest. Credit: Philip Kopatz
Funds Needed: A food bank in Budapest, Hungary is helping over 120 Ukrainian refugees every week, but needs more money to buy food supplies. Food Bank for Ukrainian Refugees in Budapest has been operating for almost 18 weeks. The leaders of the organization noted that while the U.N. only recently announced a food crisis for refugees, they have observed these issues since refugees first came over the border in March, Bureaucratic red tape means that local organizations like this receive none of the international funding being administered from Western countries and must rely on individual donations. There are currently over 100 refugees on the waiting list to receive food. Donate here to help feed the young Ukrainian women and children in Budapest.
Some Human Moments Prevail
Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding the war in Ukraine, videos shared over social media show that humanity still exists.
In Kyiv, soldiers used the curfew as an opportunity to recreate an iconic Beatles album cover.