Modern-Day Monuments Men

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The Week of June 12th - June 19th

This Week's Takeaway in 30 Seconds...
Ukrainian soldier stands in front of captured Russian Howitzer in Kharkiv region from the 2022 counteroffensive. Credit:

Add members of the African Union to the growing list of countries trying to mediate a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine. While that delegation is listening to both sides in hopes of finding peace, next month's NATO summit will be squarely focused on how logistically help Ukraine as its counteroffensive gets underway. The Ukrainian military will take all the help they can get as progress thus far has been slow. How will Ukrainian troops deal with Russian air superiority? 

Back in the U.S., many Ukrainian refugees have felt the shortcomings of the Biden administration’s temporary asylum program, but a new bill being introduced in Congress may alleviate their hardship. On the tech front, cyberattacks have become an increasingly popular tactic during the war, with both sides aiming to disrupt the lives of everyday citizens. 

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.

Members of the original Monuments Men recovering stolen artwork near the end of WWII. Credit: BM via Wikimedia commons.
A New Generation of Preservationists
  • Rabbi Claps Back: During the Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russian President Putin said that President Zelenskyy was “a disgrace to Jewish people.” The Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Moshe Azman, took exception to these comments, responding in a Ukrainian media article by saying, "I can personally say that I am proud of President Zelenskyy, that he did not run away and is doing everything to help Ukrainian people. And not only me. I think that the whole world is proud of him." Antisemitism and Nazism have been at the center of Putin’s rationale for the invasion of Ukraine. At the onset of the invasion, Putin claimed that Ukraine needed to be “denazified.”
  • Modern-Day Monuments Men: A group of New York Army reserve officers visited the Met Museum to learn about how they can play a role in preserving cultural artifacts. The rampant destruction of art, theaters, and monuments in Ukraine has renewed an effort for U.S. military officials to train their personnel on how to preserve cultural pieces in conflict zones. During World War II, a group of curators, historians, and architects, later known as the Monuments Men, traveled to Europe to preserve artwork looted by the Nazis. This new generation of preservationists learned techniques from the Met’s curators, which included photographing artifacts before touching or moving them and where the object should be placed after it has been recovered.

‍ Human Moment: ‍    
British national brings his culinary talents to Ukraine. 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Credit: GovernmentZA via Flickr
Kyiv Hosts African Delegation
  • Another Mediator: African leaders visited Kyiv on Friday, joining the growing list of countries who are trying to strike a deal between Russia and Ukraine. The group included representatives from Egypt, Senegal, Zambia, South Africa, and the Comoros. The continent is heavily dependent on Ukrainian grain and the disrupted supply chain has deeply affected many countries. The group’s first stop was Kyiv, where they met with Zelenskyy who reiterated to them that there can be no “freeze” in the war. On Saturday, the delegation visited Moscow where they met with President Putin and reiterated their stance that both sides should negotiate in good faith. 
    • Rocket Controversy: During the delegation’s visit, Kyiv came under a Russian rocket attack. On Twitter, South African Presidential Spokesperson Vincent Magwenya claimed that they did not hear any missiles. The tweet quickly went viral with many attacking the claim and calling it false. South Africa has a long history with Russia dating back to the Soviet Union. The country has not gone as far as other nations in its condemnation of the war and has stated that they want peace in the region. 
  • NATO Meeting Preview: Next month, leaders from NATO will convene in Vilnius, Lithuania for a summit to decide on the strategy and direction of the military alliance. With Lithuania bordering Russia, the summit reminds the Kremlin that the alliance is ever-present in Europe. The topic of most discussions will likely be dominated by Russia’s invasion, but interestingly representatives from Kyiv will not be in attendance. Many countries inside the bloc are torn as they want to find a way to offer Ukraine a pathway to membership, but at the same time do not want to provoke Russia into attacking the member states. To circumvent these complications, countries will likely continue to provide aid to Ukraine outside of the NATO framework. 
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Ukrainian de-mining machine. Credit: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine
Midsummer Developments
  • Slow Progress: Ukrainian forces are making slow progress to the east and southeast in their counteroffensive to retake occupied territories. Ukrainian military officials have noted the intense fighting and Russia’s air superiority. Despite the challenges, Ukraine liberated about seven settlements near Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia over the past week but has yet to capture a major occupied city. Several Western allies, such as the U.S. and Germany, pledged new military aid packages to support Ukraine’s counteroffensive. 
    • A Closer Look: For Ukraine’s 68th Scout Brigade, Russia’s relentless bombardment has overshadowed its liberation efforts. Russian forces are situated about nine miles from the villages, and their primary strategy is to inflict as many casualties as possible to deplete Ukrainian troops and resources before they reach the main defensive line. 

 Human Moment:    
New York Mets minor league team unveils massive Ukrainian flag in Brooklyn. 

Logo of Russia's largest bank, Sberbank. Credit: Sberbank Europe AG via Wikimedia Commons

The Economic War Zone

  • Russian Banking System Goes Offline: Last week, as Ukraine launched its counteroffensive, a group of pro-Ukrainian hacktivists, “Cyber Anarchy Squad,” interrupted Russia’s banking system. The group targeted InfoTel, which manages Russia’s inter-banking communication system. Russian banks experienced outages for about two days, meaning banks and credit unions could not make payments. Cyber attacks continue to be an underreported yet ever-present part of the war. 
  • Cyber Blitz: Microsoft has traced a wave of cyberattacks against Ukrainian government agencies and IT companies back to Russia's military intelligence. Russia has historically used cyber attacks to weaken enemies by influencing elections, enflaming domestic issues, and shutting down government agencies. Microsoft also acknowledged that Russia is targeting NATO members sending military aid to 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
  • Donate to the Ukrainian military (will need google translate on your computer)
  • Donate to Ukrainian NGO Come Back Alive
  • Help Ukrainian refugees in Poland
Check out our Twitter account!
Check out our Twitter account!
American and Ukrainian flags. Credit: Free photobank

A Glimmer of Hope

  • Ukrainian Adjustment Act: The exact details are still unclear, but a group of U.S. Members of Congress have introduced a bipartisan bill offering a path for permanent residency to Ukrainians that have entered the U.S. since last February. The current U.S. program for Ukrainian refugees affected by Russia’s 2022 invasion, Uniting for Ukraine, has many shortcomings. Notably, there is no path for citizenship or permanent residency; participants can only stay for two years. The bill would give Ukrainians stability in the U.S. until they can return home.
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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