Ukraine Unlocked

One Year of Ukraine Unlocked

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The Week of January 2nd - January 9th

Reflecting on One-Year of Ukraine Unlocked...
It's hard to believe but this week marks our one-year anniversary of publishing Ukraine Unlocked. When we first set out on this venture, ironically the goal was to show that Ukraine had more to offer the world than war. A little more than one month later we, along with the rest of the world, saw that the focus for Ukraine in 2022 would be ensuring that their nation continued to exist. While we had initially hoped to predominately feature the rich culture of the country and the young businesses that were getting there starts in Ukraine, we knew we couldn't ignore the invasion. Throughout this past year we still tried to bring our readers the stories of people off the battlefield. Those who were building startups in Kyiv or those touring their art around the world in hopes of bringing awareness to the horrors of what was going on back home

In the new year we plan to continue bringing relevant
synopses that inform your understanding of what is happening in Ukraine. 2023 will be a defining year for the country as it continues to deal with challenges both old and new. We hope you have been enjoying our newsletters and that you will continue to share with friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. 

Happy New Year,
Philip & Gabe
Co-founders of Ukraine Unlocked

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.

The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (UIMA) poster for their exhibit showcasing art drawn by young children in Ukraine. Credit: UIMA
Holidays, Old and New
  • An Orthodox Celebration: January 7th marked Orthodox Christmas for many Ukrainians who celebrate the holiday. Notably, many Ukrainians are transitioning to celebrating on both December 25th and January 7th. President Zelesnkyy addressed the country while making references to superstitions emanating from the holiday and talking about the difficulties the past year has brought with it.
    • New services: A major shift happened this year as services at the religious cultural institution, the Pechersky Lavra, were led by the Kyiv-led Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Historically, the Moscow-based Orthodox Church has delivered services but recently they have been criticized for its support of Russia. The move marks another way in which Kyiv is distancing itself from Moscow. 
  • Children Depict Horrors of War: A new art exhibit has gone up at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago. The creators of the piece are children, with some being as young as seven years old, providing a different perspective on the war. The artwork was packed into two suitcases and shipped from the western city of Lviv for it to be displayed in Chicago. Many of the pieces at the museum are for sale, with the proceeds going to help more children depict their experiences with the war.
🕺 Human Moment:🕺

A dance troop from Ukraine that incorporates complex light themes into their performances has made it to the finale of America’s Got Talent. 

Members of the Taiwanese community in Toronto show up at a protest in support of Ukraine. Credit: Flickr
Asia's Role 
  • Don’t Expect China to Save the Day: Many in the West have been critical of China’s lack of commitment to ending the war between Ukraine and Russia. Many see Xi Jingping and Vladimir Putin as being close friends, with both leaders pushing back against Western powers and their global influence. Recently though China has become more vocal, warning Russia against the use of nuclear weapons and encouraging a diplomatic end to the war. At the same time, China has benefited from the plummeting costs of Russian gas due to Western sanctions. For now, China is stuck between the two sides of the war, leaving many uncertain about what role they might play in ending it.
  • Taiwanese Support: For those who live on the small island of Taiwan, the situation in Ukraine resonates deeply. China has long claimed that Taiwan falls under Chinese rule, which Taiwan strongly refutes. While the number is small, there are an estimated 10 Taiwanese citizens fighting in Ukraine’s international battalions. Last month, Tseng Sheng-guang, a Taiwanese citizen, lost his life on the battlefield. There is fear that if Russia is able to conquer Ukraine, China may try to do the same with Taiwan.
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Anti-war poster. Credit: Darius Kuzzmickas via Flickr:
Winter Woes
  • No Christmas Truce: In the days leading up to the Orthodox Christian Christmas on January 7th, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised a unilateral 36-hour ceasefire from January 6th to midnight on January 7th. However, the ceasefire lasted only one hour before Russia shelled the southern city of Kherson. Russian artillery also struck targets in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in eastern Ukraine. Officials in Kyiv and in the West were skeptical of the ceasefire and thought Putin simply wanted a brief pause to regroup his army. 
  • Battle for Bakhmut Culminating: In the five months since Russia launched its attack on the eastern city of Bakhmut, an important transportation hub, Russian forces have only advanced four to seven miles. An ample supply of artillery shells supplied their attack, and there were several instances in December where Russia seemed poised to capture the beleaguered city. However, Russia is running low on artillery and many Western analysts believe that the dwindling stockpile will ultimately prevent Russia from capturing the city. 
    • The Implications: Russia has depleted its artillery stockpile, lost thousands of troops, and will likely suffer another loss after losing control of the Kherson and Kharkiv Oblasts during the autumn. However, the ballistic barrage has also killed thousands of Ukrainian troops, leveled Bakhmut, and drained Ukraine’s artillery supplies. Both sides have suffered devastating losses as the battle for Bakhmut continues.
  • Spring Counteroffensive: Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s intelligence department, said that Ukraine plans to make a major military push in March, with artillery strikes landing further and further inside Russia’s borders. The announcement came several days after the Kremlin announced that on January 5th that the borders would be closed to all conscription-aged men as it prepares for another mobilization. The last time Russia announced a mobilization, men of fighting age left the country in droves in hopes of avoiding being drafted into the military.
 Human Moment: 

A group of soldiers who were released from Russian captivity sang Ukraine’s national anthem on the way home.

Hospitality sector of Ukraine is adapting to the new reality. Credit: International Development Law Organization via Flickr

Economic Adaptations

  • Economy Adapts in the face of War: Ukraine’s economy shrank by over 30% in 2022 because of Russia’s war. The war cut off one of Ukraine’s most profitable pre-war sectors: the export of agricultural products, metals, and raw materials. Furthermore, numerous factories have ceased operations because of damage or being located in temporarily occupied territories.
    • Resiliency: Despite the bleak numbers, Ukrainian officials are trying to look toward the future. The agricultural, hospitality, and I.T. sectors have all rapidly adapted to the realities of war and maneuvered themselves to be successful in a post-war economy. For example, farmers continued to plant crops despite Russian shellings and shifted to producing in-demand foods such as corn. Furthermore, Western donors have already drawn up a Marshall-style plan for Ukraine and are prepared to invest in the country as soon as the war ends.
  • The U.S. Commits More Aid: On January 6th, President Biden announced that the U.S. would send an additional three billion dollars in military aid to Ukraine. This brings the total up to $24 billion of total aid since February 24th. The package includes infantry vehicles, hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, land-to-air defense missiles, mortars, and HIMARS ammo. 
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
Anti-war demonstration in London. Credit: Garry Knight via Flickr
Winter Wears on European Hosts  
  • Less Support for Refugees: As the war nears the one-year mark, countries in eastern and central Europe are planning to take on more refugees as the winter drags on and Russia continues to target civilian infrastructure. However, with the caveat that national governments are less willing to offer aid and support to refugees and local organizations. While refugees in the E.U. can register for temporary protections, some governments are withdrawing aid. For example, the Polish, Hungarian, and Romanian governments are discussing restructuring financial aid programs for hosts and making Ukrainians responsible for more of the housing costs.
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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