The IAEA delegation to the Zaporizhzha Nuclear Power Pant. Credit: IAEA Imagebank via Flickr
The Biden administration made a controversial decision to supply Ukraine with widely-banned weapons as Russia’s invasion reached its 500th day. While human rights organizations decry the decision, U.N. officials are watching over Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in hopes of preventing another Chornobyl-like catastrophe. As geopolitical tensions fill headlines, a Ukrainian writer turned human rights investigator fell victim to a bombing in Kramatorsk. What will be the literary figure’s final contribution to Ukraine’s vision for a postwar country?
With questions circulating about Russian and Belarusian athletes’ eligibility to participate in the 2024 Olympics, an NHL legend unveiled his strategy to allow them to partake in the games. Back on the war front, the close collaboration of Russia and Belarus may bring Yevgeny Prigozhin back into the fold. After agreeing to exile in Belarus, will the ex-mercenary leader make a stunning comeback as part of Russia’s war effort?
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.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. Credit: Bulgarian Presidency via Wikimedia Commons.
Verbal Punches Fly:Zelenskyy ripped into Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev during a public press conference after Radev described the invasion as a “conflict,” claimed more weapons would not change anything, and suggested a diplomatic fix to end the war. At one point Zelenskyy said: “God forbid some tragedy should befall you, and you should be in my place. And if people with shared values do not help, what will you do? You would say: Putin, please grab Bulgarian territory?” Radev eventually asked the camera crews to leave the press conference so the meeting could continue off the record. Zelenskyy made the stop in Bulgaria to meet with Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, who has been supportive of Ukraine’s war effort. Zelenskyy can likely pay little attention to Radev and his skepticism of support for Ukraine as his role as president in Bulgaria is largely a symbolic position.
Where is Prigozhin?Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko negotiated a deal that would give Yevgeny Prigozhin amnesty in Belarus after the Russian war mercenary led a failed uprising against the Kremlin. During a press conference this week, Lukashenko was asked about Prigozhin’s whereabouts to which he answered “As far as Prigozhin is concerned, he is in St. Petersburg [Russia].” While this claim could not be verified, a plane belonging to the mercenary leader was tracked leaving Minsk and heading toward Russia last week. A Telegram channel aligned with the Wagner group seemed to hint that Wagner would still be part of Russia’s war efforts.
Human Moment: Tucker Carlson goes on Russell Brand’s podcast to discuss his perspective on the war in Ukraine, for an interview no one was expecting.
Dominik Hašek when he was playing with the Detroit Red Wings. Credit: Dan4th Nicholas via Wikimedia Commons
A Goalie Tries to Make a Block
NHL Legend Says “No” To Russian Athletes:NHL legend Dominik Hašek wants to ensure any Russian or Belarusian athletes participating in the 2024 Paris Olympics are outspoken critics of Russia’s invasion. The two-time Stanley Cup Champion and Olympic gold-medal winner is originally from the Czech Republic. Hašek wants these prospective athletes to repeatedly and publicly condemn the war in order to gain admission to the games. In exchange, other countries would offer the participants and their families asylum. Hašek visited Ukraine back in June while touring the country’s major cities, but also saw smaller towns like Bucha and Irpin where Russia committed the most heinous war crimes of the invasion.
An Israeli version of the controversial Cluster Bomb. Credit:aict Live Journal via Wikimedia Commons
Pulling Out All the Stops
Controversial Cluster Bombs: On Friday, as the war entered its 500th day, the U.S. announced it would supply cluster munitions to Ukraine as part of an $800 million security assistance package. Each cluster bomb contains hundreds of smaller explosives that envelope a targeted area. However, 120 countries, including many NATO members, have banned their use because they often lead to civilian deaths. Many smaller bombs do not detonate and lodge themselves into the ground, which unwitting civilians can discharge.
Defending the Choice: Explosive experts have noted that children see the “novel-looking devices” and try to pick them up. Human rights organizations across the board oppose their use because their failure rate is up to 40%. Still, the Biden administration said more civilians would be at risk if Ukraine cannot sustain its counteroffensive.
Safe, for Now: Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that he found no evidence of bombs on the premises of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The investigation came after President Zelenskyy accused Russia of planting explosives around the plant as part of a false flag operation. Mariano is still seeking access to the plant's roof but has yet to find evidence of mines. The agency has repeatedly warned that the war could cause a nuclear meltdown like the 1986 Chornobyl explosion.
Human Moment: Ukrainian prisoners of war are released and reunited with their families.
Victoria Amelina. Credit: Rafal Komorowski via Google Creative Common License
Losing a Literary Figure
Novelist Turned Investigator Dies:Victoria Amelina, the novelist who set writing aside to become a war crimes researcher, died after sustaining injuries during a Russian missile attack in Kramatorsk. The investigative trips to eastern Ukraine had taken a toll on Amelina’s mental health, and she had recently accepted a scholarship from Columbia University to participate in a year-long residency in Paris. However, she agreed to participate in one final trip before starting the program. Her last book, a nonfiction account of her experiences as a woman fighting for Ukraine, will be published posthumously. It marks her final contribution to a postwar country she helped build but will never see.
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
President Zelenskyy meets with senior members of JPMorgan Chase. Credit: Office of the President of Ukraine
Banking in the Big Leagues
Giants of American Investment: BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase, two of the largest international financial corporations, are helping the Zelenskyy administration set up a reconstruction bank fund to attract billions of dollars in private investments to Ukraine. Currently, the plan is for the funding to become unlocked after the war ends due to fears from investors that work cannot be done while fighting is still happening. The financial giants are donating their services but will have early opportunities to invest in their chosen projects. By drawing on its work in developing other mission-oriented funds, BlackRock is directing investments into sustainability projects in Ukraine's agricultural, energy, and infrastructure sectors.
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.