Ukraine Unlocked

Spectators to Genocide



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Week of 4/1-4/8

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. 


This Week’s Takeaway…
The world looked on in horror this past week as images emerged of blindfolded and bound civilians lying dead in the streets of Bucha. The pictures came to light after the Ukrainian military recaptured the city as Russia continued its retreat from northern Ukraine. The Kremlin denied any wrongdoing and labeled the event a “monstrous forgery.” Officials argue that Ukrainian forces put the bodies in the streets after the Russian military relinquished control of the city. Satellite images refute this claim, showing that the dead had been there three weeks prior while Russian forces still held the town. In the wake of these images being shared across news and social media, global leaders, pundits, and historians classified the event as a genocide. As further human rights abuses are committed in Ukraine, the West’s strong condemnations are not matching their actions—and it’s showing.

Why are western leaders calling the Bucha killings a genocide but still refusing to intervene – read more here

A Request from Philip and Gabe (Co-Founders of Ukraine Unlocked): If you are enjoying this newsletter please consider forwarding it along to a friend, colleague, or neighbor. As the situation in Ukraine continues to evolve we are hoping to give folks the context they need to understand the various developments coming out of the country. 

A Russian-backed separatist with anti-tank weaponry in the Donbas in 2015 Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Strategic Update – Week 6 of War

  • ‘Liberating’ the Donbas: Russian forces removed all troops from Kyiv and Chernihiv earlier this week. Ukrainian resistance coupled with Russian logistical failures dashed Putin’s hopes of quickly removing the Zelenskyy regime. Western officials believe that Russian troops are resupplying and regrouping in Belarus in preparation for a renewed offensive in Donetsk and Luhansk. Kremlin officials have repeatedly stated their goal of liberating the Russian speakers in the Donbas region. 
  • Thousands Dead in Mariupol: The mayor of Mariupol reported that at least 5,000 civilians have died since Russia enacted a blockade on the city. At least 200 of the fatalities were children. Over the last week, Red Cross members have made several attempts to enter the city. Ukraine is blaming Russian forces for the inability to deliver aid.
    • Desperation: A city official in Mariupol, Petro Andrushchenko, said that after the electricity and water went out, bartering with firewood, bread, gasoline, and cigarettes replaced paper money. Dehydrated civilians began searching for any water source: “They drank water from puddles. They drank water from the central heating system. They drank water from the snow. Happy are those who found natural springs. But they are a minority.” 
  • Executing Russian Soldiers: The New York Times verified a video posted on Monday showing Ukrainian soldiers executing Russian troops outside of Kyiv. The footage shows four dead Russian soldiers with bags over their heads and hands tied behind their backs. In the video a Ukrainian yells out that one [Russian soldier] is still moving and gasping, so he shoots him several more times. The soldiers are donning Ukrainian emblems, but the news agency that posted the video says the soldiers are actually a paramilitary group of Georgians.

Antonov AN-225 after and before its destruction. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Massive Losses

  • Mega-Plane No More: In the early stages of the war, Russia destroyed the world’s largest plane, the Antonov An-225. After Ukrainian forces recaptured the airfield where the aircraft had been stored, pictures emerged of the catastrophic damage inflicted on the plane. Initially built in the 1980s, Ukraine took ownership of the plane after the fall of the Soviet Union. The aircraft is an icon around the world for its massive size and ability to transport un-imaginable loads of cargo. Notably, in 2001 the Antonov transported four battle tanks weighing a staggering 253 tons.
  • Pope Pleads for Peace: At his weekly service on Wednesday, Pope Francis condemned the violence in Ukraine, calling on the war to be brought to a halt. The Pope displayed a flag brought to him from the city of Bucha, which he later kissed while surrounded by Ukrainian children evacuated from the country. The Pope struck a similar tone to President Zelenskyy by upbraiding international organizations for their lack of action. 
  • Russia Gets the Boot: On Thursday, the United Nations suspended Russia from its seat on the Human Rights Council. The U.S. introduced the proposal following the reports that Russian troops tortured and killed civilians in the city of Bucha. Ukraine’s permanent representative to the U.N., Sergiy Kyslytsya, proclaimed that “Suspension of Russia from the human rights council is not an option, but a duty.” Russia’s usual supporters, including China, Belarus, and Iran, all voted against the measure. 

Children’s Babyn Yar memorial in Kyiv. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Defining Ukraine

  • “I love this country even without cocaine”: The New Yorker recently published a short story entitled “The Ukraine,” written by Artem Chapeye. The story follows two lovers as they traverse Ukraine while trying to define the fabric of their country.
    • Our Take: While the story paints a broad descriptive picture of Ukraine, its explicit questions about the country’s identity kill the flow of the writing. Furthermore, the broad inquiries confuse the reader as to whether the work is fiction or research.
  • Getting Through to Babushkas: A Ukrainian YouTuber is gaining notoriety for his interviews with Russian prisoners of war. Volodymyr Zolkin has posted over 50 interviews to his channel in hopes of showing other Russians that these soldiers have no idea why they have been sent to Ukraine. Despite the support, some claim that these videos are a form of humiliation and violate the Geneva Convention’s standards for the treatment of POWs.
  • Damaged Sites: UNESCO says that 53 cultural sites in Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed since Russia’s invasion began. The list includes religious sites, historic buildings, as well as museums, and monuments. While none of Ukraine’s six cultural World Heritage Sites (such as St. Sophia’s Cathedral) have been damaged, Russian attacks have targeted other iconic places, such as the Babyn Yar mass grave site in Kyiv.

Ukrainian 500 hryvnia bill. Credit: Wikimedia Commobs

Economic Devastation

  • Economy in Shambles: Ukraine’s finance minister expects the country’s economy to shrink by more than 40% in 2022 due to the war. The minister announced that the economy had already contracted by 16% in the first quarter. Western aid has helped mitigate the crisis, but the destructive war has inflicted catastrophic damage on Ukraine’s infrastructure and private industries. 
  • Quantifying the Damage: An analyst at the Center for Economic Policy Research estimated that Russia’s military activities in Ukraine since 2014, combined with the renewed war, will cost Ukraine $1.36 trillion by 2026. The author claimed, “Of this number, $680 billion are losses incurred between 2014 and 2021, $155 billion of losses are expected in 2022, and the remaining $525 billion during 2023-2026.” The author of the paper also outlines a hypothetical plan for Russia to pay Ukraine back for the damages.
  • U.S. Levies more Sanctions: On Wednesday, President Biden announced a new package of sanctions against Russia. The package targets two of Russia’s largest banks and the assets of more government personnel, including Putin’s two adult daughters. Biden also issued an executive order banning new investment into Russia, citing Russia’s alleged war crimes. U.S. officials estimate that Russia’s inflation is nearly 200% and expect the economy to contract by 15% in 2022.

Refugee camp near Krakow, Poland. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Humanitarian Crisis 

  • Fleeing the East: U.N. officials report that over 11 million Ukrainians have fled their homes since the war started. Of the 11 million, more than 4 million have fled Ukraine and are refugees in Poland and other E.U. countries. The number of Ukrainians fleeing eastern Ukraine has dramatically increased after images from Bucha began circulating the internet. 

Some Human Moments Prevail
Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding the war in Ukraine, videos shared over social media show that humanity still exists.  

  • One dog is working to find mines and explosives and he is not what you think he would look like.
  • More dog news: a man is reunited with his companion after the Bucha massacre. 
  • A new mural emerges in Kyiv seeking to encourage the reunification of the country. 
  • Ukrainian cat draws paparazzi.   

Want to Help Ukraine?
Looking to lend support to Ukraine, below are some ways you can help:

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. 



Senior Level 


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