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The Week of February 6th - February 13th

This Week's Takeaway in 30 Seconds...
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his wartime outfit during a speech. Credit: Office of the President of Ukraine via Wikimedia Commons
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For only the second time in the last year, President Zelenskyy left the country and traveled to the U.K. where British leadership announced a training program for Ukrainian pilots using NATO-standard jets. Despite the success of the trip, a handful of pundits criticized Zelenskyy for his outfit choice during the high-stakes meetings. President Biden has been a steadfast supporter of Zelenskyy over the last year, but surprisingly allotted only two minutes for Ukraine during his State of the Union address. Back in Ukraine, two Russian missiles flew over NATO airspace during a mass attack on Friday morning that destroyed parts of the energy grid. Despite the brutality of the war, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters made some outrageous comments in front of the U.N.
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.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak greets President Zelenskyy during his arrival in London. Credit: Simon Dawson via Wikimedia Commons
Exploring Europe
  • Getting Out & About: In only his second time leaving the country since the war started, Zelenskyy made a trip to the U.K. where he met with leadership and the monarchy. The meeting gave the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, the chance to announce that the U.K. will start training Ukrainian pilots how to fly NATO-standard fighter jets. This is a major strategic change for a Western nation to make as NATO countries have been adamant that they will not send jets. The Brits also said they would train an additional 20,000 troops and levy more sanctions against Russia. Zelenskyy also made time to visit King Charles III at Westminster.
    • Brussels Pit Stop: Following his trip to the U.K. Zelenskyy visited the E.U. headquarters of Brussels where he thanked allies for their support but also pushed for more aid to flow to his country. Zelenskyy called Russia the world’s “most anti-European force” while also publicly claiming that Ukraine would be receiving Western fighter jets soon. 
    • Olive Branch to Orban: Since Russia’s invasion last year, relations between Kyiv and Budapest have been strained. Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, has been reluctant to provide support to Ukraine and has even admitted that he doubts his neighbor to the east can beat Russia on the battlefield. During Zelenskyy’s visit this past week to Brussels, Zelenskyy invited the Hungarain leader to Kyiv. It's not known whether he accepted or not. 
  • State of the American Union: In one of the U.S. president’s strongest speeches since being elected to office. He covered a lot of topics meaning no one issue area received a significant amount of time, including Ukraine. He did use the two minutes allocated to Ukraine to state that the U.S. is united in its support for Ukraine, despite a number of Congressional members not clapping or standing following the statement. Among the president’s guests included Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova who he acknowledged during the speech.

🕯️ Human Moment:  🕯️

25,000 candles are being distributed throughout Ukraine to help combat the darkness brought on by Russian attacks.

Roger Waters of the band Pink Floyd performs. Credit: KayVeePhotos via Flickr
What to Wear
  • Wardrobe Draws Attention: During Zelenskyy’s visit abroad, he continued to don his sweatshirt and cargo pants. Some pundits criticized Zelenskyy for his casual look when he visited the U.S., arguing that his appearance was disrespectful to the institutions and leaders he addressed. Zelenskyy made no changes when he visited London and Brussels last week, drawing a stark contrast to the suits and formal garb of E.U. leaders. Some believe he uses his outfits to remind people that his country is in an inescapable war and that no situation in which the president finds himself in will change that. 
  • Pink Floyd Said What? Roger Waters, who co-founded the legendary rock band Pink Floyd, recently drew the ire of Ukrainian officials after delivering a speech in front of the U.N. Russia invited Waters to speak before the body where he called the Russian invasion “illegal” but also blamed the West for provoking Russia. In response, Ukraine’s representative to the U.N. noted the irony in Waters' “whitewashing” history after the band was banned from the Soviet Union following their protest of the Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
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U.S. army special operations in Ukraine. Credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution Service
NATO to the Rescue?
  • 100 Missiles Bombard Ukraine: On February 10th, Russian forces launched over 100 missiles at civilian infrastructure. Ukrainian defense systems downed over 60 missiles, but officials reported explosions in nine oblasts across the country. The attack damaged high-voltage infrastructure, including hydroelectric and thermal power plants.
    • Violation of NATO Airspace: The head of Ukraine’s air force, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said that two missiles entered Moldovan and Romanian airspace. In a public address, President Zelenskyy said that the missiles challenged NATO’s collective security. However, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assessed that the missile overflights are unlikely to prompt a NATO response because they were unintentional. Furthermore, the ISW believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is unwilling to engage in a direct conflict with NATO.
  • Covert Ops: Pentagon officials are urging U.S. Congress members to reinstate special operation missions in Ukraine, which the U.S. paused before Russia’s invasion last year. Specifically, defense officials want to monitor Russia’s military movements and counter disinformation. 
    • A Contentious Point: Proponents maintain that special operations are critical for the American intelligence community. However, critics argue that the proposed operations would risk drawing the U.S. directly into the war. A decision will not likely come until the fall, meaning the program would not start until 2024 at the earliest. 

 Human Moment:  
A Ukrainian model at New York Fashion week dons a NSFW dress

Russian oil refinery. Credit: Richard Hurd via Helsinki times.

Curtailing Oil Production

  • Voluntary Reduction: On Friday, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister announced that his country would be ‘voluntarily’ cutting oil production by 500,000 barrels per day in response to the West’s price cap on Russian oil. The cut amounts to about half a percent of the world’s oil production. Observers see the announcement as proof that the price cap is impacting Russia’s economy. In light of the announcement, American oil companies such as Valero and Marathon saw an increase of 5% in their stock price.
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 national hockey team. Credit: Lowdown via Wikimedia Commons
Healing Through Sports
  • Hockey offers a Respite: A businessman in Quebec, Sean Berube, spent $20,000 and procured diplomatic passports for a group of 21 adolescent Ukrainian refugees so they could participate in a two-week peewee hockey tournament. The boys, ranging from 11 to 12 years old, went from reserved and quiet to excited while training for the tournament. Many of the boys have family members who are fighting on the front line, with one boy’s father having died in action. The game gave the boys a chance to turn their attention away from the daily horrors of war and focus on enjoying themselves and raising awareness for Ukraine. Mr. Berbue said the tournament is a prime example of how a sport can unify people. 
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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