Russia’s blockade of many Ukrainian ports may have an unlikely solution: old Soviet railways. The blockade has put increased pressure on railway shipments and trucking, causing weeks-long shipping delays. Long queues at border crossings with Moldova and Romania have limited the amount of grain Ukraine can export. However, Ukraine has refurbished 42 km (26 miles) of old railroads over the last two months. According to Ukrainian officials, the restored railways will transport 600,000 tons of cargo a month, most of which will be much-needed grain products. The railroads will also serve another long-term function: integrating Ukraine into Europe’s Schengen free travel zone.
How will old Soviet railways alleviate the grain crisis and help integrate Ukraine with Europe…read more here.
This week's analysis is written by Will Zadesky: He is a historian focusing on Romania, Moldova, and Transnistria. He received his Master’s degree in Slavic and East European Studies from The Ohio State University.
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.
Former Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Gone and Bewildered
Controversial Leaders Dies:Former USSR leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, died this past week. The former General Secretary passed on Tuesday from an unspecified illness. According to the leader’s former translator Pavel Palazhchenko, Gorbachev was “shocked and bewildered” by the invasion of Ukraine. Gorbachev seemed to be crushed by the deteriorating relations between Moscow and Kyiv in recent years. Gorbachev had familial ties to Ukraine as his late wife’s father had been born in Ukraine. However, he never expressed public opposition to Russia’s February invasion and even applauded Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
No More Russian: The leaders of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet Republics, met in late August to discuss relations between the two countries. While both leaders speak fluent Russian, neither used it. Instead, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, spoke Azeri and the President of Kazakhstan, Kasim-Jomart Tokayev, spoke in Kazah. Many saw this as a way of former Soviet countries distancing themselves from Russia’s powerful orbit.
Human Moment: Ukrainian tennis player Daria Snihur beat Simona Halep, the previous number one ranked player in the world and dedicated her win to Ukraine.
Peter Danyliv. Credit: Kozak's Basketball Camp
Kyiv to Kansas
Ballin’:Peter Danyliv has rocketed to fame in the world of college basketball. Born in Kyiv, Danyliv moved to the U.S. in 2007 to play basketball and attend high school but became sidelined by an injury and transitioned to training other young players. He now is working with players in Lawernce, Kansas, including players from the University of Kansas. Danyliv is still deeply tied to Ukraine, with his sister, mother, and father still living in Kyiv.
Historical Odesa:UNESCO announced its support for the port city of Odesa to be added to the World Heritage Sites this week. If the city makes the list, Russia could be punished for attacking the city. So far, the threat of international response to damaging cultural icons in Ukraine has not deterred Russia. UNESCO estimates that 175 cultural and historical sites have been damaged since the onset of the war.
Book Festivals Team Up: The Lviv Book Forum, Ukraine’s largest book festival, will be working with the U.K.’s Hay festival to bring a more international audience to Ukraine’s literary scene. The Hay festival will broadcast all 15 of the Lviv Book Forum’s events from October 6-9th. The CEO of the Hay festival said that the collaboration was an act of solidarity as the U.K. continues to support Ukraine’s independent culture.
Russian soldier outside of the Zaporizhzhian NPP. Credit: Flickr
Ukraine’s Mounting Momentum
Ukraine Goes on the Offensive: On August 29th, Ukrainian forces launched a counterattack in the Kherson region to recapture territory that Russians have occupied since March. The spokesperson for the Ukrainian southern command, Vladyslav Nazarov, said that they had launched over 200 missile strikes and killed at least 150 Russian soldiers.
Highly Confident: In a briefing on Wednesday, Pentagon officials stated their belief that Ukrainian forces are stronger in the south and that the U.S.-supplied HIMARS missiles are becoming more effective.
Turning Point: The Kherson region and adjoining Crimea have been critical staging grounds for Russia’s offensives on the eastern and southern fronts. Ukrainian forces are threatening those capabilities, forcing Russians to move troops from the Donetsk oblast to the Kherson region.
Inspecting Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear power plant: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began an inspection of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has been under Russian control since early March. Ukrainian workers have stayed at the plant to ensure its safe operation. Still, concerns are growing over a nuclear incident as explosions threaten the integrity of the power plant. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi expressed concern that the plant has been compromised because of shelling. Two experienced staff members will stay on-site permanently to help ensure safe operation.
In celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day, the Scots Guards performed a rendition of Stefania, a song written by the Ukrainian band Kalusha.
Docked cruise ship. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Cruise Ships for Housing: A second cruise ship has arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, and will provide temporary housing for Ukrainian refugees. Over 15,000 Ukrainians have fled to Scotland since February. Residents can come and go whenever they want and will have access to restaurants, childcare facilities, shops, and healthcare and educational services. Each ship can accommodate over 1,700 people.
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
Up and Running: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine reported that 72% of American businesses registered with its organization are still fully operational. Furthermore, 83% are paying their employees’ full salaries. The survey results suggest that 96% of registered companies plan to continue operations in Ukraine in 2023. Andy Hunder, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, said, "This latest survey sends a message that companies believe in Ukraine.”
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