King Charles' Coronation Creates Ukrainian Rendezvous

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The Week of May 1st - May 8th

This Week's Takeaway in 30 Seconds...
President Zelenskyy meets with Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut back in December of 2022. Credit: Office of the President of Ukraine via Wikimedia Commons
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The coronation of King Charles turned out to be a major international social gathering, with Ukraine’s First Lady and Prime Minister taking the opportunity to shore up ties with their Western allies. Back in Ukraine, the head of Russia’s paramilitary organization, the Wagner Group, threatened to pull his organization from Bakhmut while leveling fiery accusations against Kremlin officials. Ukraine continues to outmaneuver Russia on the battlefield, going so far as to use equipment that looks like it belongs in the trenches of WWI. Behind the frontlines Ukrainian author Victoria Amelina is helping to document Russia's war crimes in newly liberated cities. While Russia's crimes are investigated in Ukraine, at home a series of attacks shook the country leaving many Russians looking over their shoulders. 
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.

Pro-Kremlin blogger Zakhar Prilepin. Credit: Svklimkin via Wikimedia Commons
Celebrations and Blasts
  • Coronation Rendezvous: Heads of state, celebrities and international media all descended on the U.K. this past weekend for the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. Ukraine also had strong representation at the event, with First Lady Olena Zelenska attending the ceremony where she had the chance to meet with U.S. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Princess of Wales Kate Middleton. Ukraine also sent its Prime Minister, Denys Shmyhal, to the coronation. He used the trip to meet with U.K. leadership but also checked in on Ukrainian troops who were being trained at English military facilities. Some even speculated that the U.S. First Family’s outfits were a nod to Ukraine. 
  • Another Car Blast: The car of Zakhar Prilepin, a prominent pro-Kremlin blogger and novelist, exploded on Saturday about 250 miles east of Moscow. While Prilepin survived the blast, his driver was killed in the explosion. The Kremlin announced they have a suspect in custody who allegedly admitted that Ukrainian officials ordered the attack. Russia also said the U.S. and the West were at indirect fault since they support Ukraine. 
    • History of Attacks: In August of 2022 Daria Dugina, the daughter of Aleksander Dugin, a close advisor to Putin, was killed in a car blast. Last month, pro-Kemlin blogger Vladlen Tatarsky also died in an explosion at a St. Petersburg cafe. Ukraine has continued to deny involvement with all of these attacks.

Human Moment:

Polish border guards save a Ukrainian baby’s life. 

Bernard Henry Levy, director of the Slava Ukraini. Credit: Itzike via Wikimedia Commons
Taking Center Stage
  • New Film on Ukraine: Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine) is a new documentary directed by Marc Roussel and Bernard-Henri Lévy, which shows people living on the frontlines of the war in the second half of 2022. The New York Times review of the film wanted less screen time for Lévy, saying that “occasionally his commentary is poetic,” but adding “the camera says a lot without him.” You can view the trailer of the film here and watch the movie at select theaters. 
  • No Stage Sharing: At the Italian Sanremo Junior festival, a competition for children aged 6 to 15, 13-year-old Ukrainian Sofia Samoliuk refused to perform after learning a Russian participant had been added to the competition hours earlier. On stage she called Russia a “terrorist state” and highlighted that the Russian invasion has killed over 500 Ukrainian children. The competition is organized by UNICEF which had previously claimed that the war in Ukraine “pushes a generation of children to the brink.”
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Ukrainian servicemen in Bakhmut meeting with President Zelenskyy in December during his visit to the Donetsk Oblast. Credit: Office of the President of Ukraine via Wikimedia Commons
Cataclysmic Changes
  • Fiery Accusations: On Friday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s paramilitary organization the Wagner Group, posted a fiery video attacking Kremlin officials for the lack of ammunition and supplies his men are receiving in Bakhmut. In the video, Prigozhin is seen walking over the bodies of his soldiers, who he said died that day. Prigozhin called out Russia’s Defense Minister and chief of staff, saying he would pull his men out of Bakhmut on May 10th. Bakhmut has been the focal point of fighting between Russia and Ukraine since December 2022.
  • Kremlin Attacked: In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Russia’s air defense systems shot down two drones over the Kremlin. A video showed one of the drones exploding just over Vladimir Putin’s residence. While officials have not pinpointed who was behind the attack, Russian officials have tried to publicize the event while blaming Ukraine. Dimitry Medvedev, a former president of Russia and Putin’s right-hand man, said the alleged attack “leaves us no option but to physically eliminate Zelenskiy and his clique.”
  • Old Tricks Save the Day: While Ukrainian soldiers near the front lines have access to satellites and smartphones, they prefer to use a piece of equipment that looks like it could be in an antique store: a wind-up phone. Russian forces have some of the best electronic warfare systems in the world, which can easily intercept phone and radio signals. The cables from the wind-up phones run to other trenches, making it impossible for Russians to listen in.

 Human Moment:  

Punches fly between Russian and Ukrainian officials at a Turkish summit in Ankara. 

Victoria Amelina, a writer turned war crimes researcher Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Changing Lanes

  • Literary Figure Turned War Crimes Investigator: Back in March 2022, Victoria Amelina, a well-known young writer, was searching for a way to help advance Ukraine’s cause and support the war effort. She decided to take her investigative skills and become a war crimes researcher. Amelina underwent an intensive two-week training program with the Human Rights organization Truth Hounds to learn how to document war crimes. Amelina has been on numerous week-long missions, where she spends the day interviewing victims of torture. During a September field mission to the Kharkiv Oblast, Amelina was part of the team that discovered three torture chambers in one city after Ukrainian troops liberated the area.
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
Agricultural land in Romania. Credit: World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr
Economic Accusations 
  • Farmers Protest: Last June, the European Union rolled back tariffs and other barriers for Ukraine to export its grain products over land using railways. The move was well received as it counterbalanced Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. The plan facilitated the export of millions of tons of grains into the global market and eased the hunger crisis. However, the move brought unintended consequences. Ukraine’s low-priced grains have seeped into markets in Romania, Poland, and Slovakia, virtually erasing the market for domestic farmers in those countries. Romania’s farmers lost a combined €3.5 billion over the last year. In April, their discontent boiled over and a group of farmers staged protests in several cities and one Ukrainian border crossing. Some countries even went so far as to ban food imports from Ukraine, prompting an investigation by the E.U.
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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