The Moscow Meeting

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The Week of March 20th - March 27th

This Week's Takeaway in 30 Seconds...
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017. Credit: The Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via Wikimedia Commons
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Eyes were trained on Moscow this week as Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the capital city. While China has not backed the Russian military directly, it continues to sell drones to the country which have been used in the war. Do China’s plans extend beyond drone sales?

While Russia hopes to maintain this political relationship, it’s at the expense of its ties with the art community abroad. The Metropolitan Museum in New York is reclassifying art and artists from Russian to Ukrainian, prompting an angry retort. That’s not the only move that happened last week, as Putin stationed nukes in Belarus and Prince Williams paid a visit to Poland. If you are looking for a new read, check out Andrey Kurkov’s book
Grey Bees, which just won the National Book Critics Circle Gregg Barrios Award.


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.

The Kakhovka Reservoir in Ukraine. Credit: Lalala0405 via Wikimedia Commons
New Front of the War
  • Water Wars: The water levels are much lower than normal at the Kakhovka Reservoir in southern Ukraine. Some think that a Russian-controlled hydroelectric power plant at the lower end of the reservoir is to blame. The plant has been leaving its water gates open, causing the reservoir to drain and leading to record-low water levels. The reservoir is extremely important for providing the region with drinking water but also supporting the area’s farms as well. While Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid have been frequent and well-documented, many worry water could be Russia’s newest target.  
  • Nukes in Belarus: Putin announced that Russia will be staging tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. The nukes will still be under Russian control while in Belarusian territory. Putin claims this is not a violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which Russia signed on to. The movement of nuclear weapons across borders, paired with its close proximity to an active war-zone, is likely to spook the West and further inflame tensions between Moscow and NATO countries.

 Human Moment: 

Ukraine’s foreign minister talks about how “cool” Ukraine is.
 Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov. Credit: Andrey Kurkov via Wikimedia Commons
Awards and Reexaminations
  • Award Winning Book: Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov won the National Book Critics Circle Gregg Barrios Award for his book Grey Bees. The Gregg Barrios Award, which was established this year, recognizes books translated into English and published in the United States. Grey Bees follows a beekeeper who is living in the “gray zone” between Ukraine and the area controlled by Russian separatists. You can pick up your copy of the book off Amazon.
  • Reexamining Art: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York changed the name of one of its pieces from “Russian Dancer” to “Dancer in Ukrainian Dress.” Two 19th-century artists, whose work is displayed at the Met, had previously been classified as Russian but they were re-listed as Ukrainian since they were born in what constitutes modern-day, independent Ukraine. The Met states that they are continually re-evaluating how their art is labeled to make sure it is accurate. The Russian government has said that the organizations around the world are trying to dissociate all art from Russia.  
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Destroyed building in Bakhmut in December 2022. Credit: The National Police of Ukraine via Wikimedia Commons
Spring Thaw
  • Strong Message: On March 20th, an explosion near Dzhankoi in northern Crimea destroyed several Russian Kalibar cruise missiles. The city is a critical railroad junction for transporting military supplies. While Ukrainian officials did not outright take responsibility for the strike, statements from several Ukrainian officials indicated Ukraine was likely behind the attack. A spokesman for Ukraine’s military said the attack signaled to Russia that they should leave the illegally annexed peninsula.
  • Ukraine Regroups: On Wednesday, the Institute for the Study of War indicated that Russia might launch offensives elsewhere besides Bakhmut. Russia made substantial territorial gains around the city over the last several weeks, but attacks have slowed. However, officials in Kyiv believe they may be able to recapture the territory around Bakhmut through another counteroffensive in the coming weeks.

  Human Moment: 

A mural went up showing the “Hero of Ukraine” who was killed by Russian soldiers in a viral video shared across the web. 


Prince William and President Zelesnkyy meet in 2020. Credit: Office of the President of Ukraine via Wikimedia Commons

Reaching out to Refugees

  • Royal Rendezvous: Prince William stopped in Poland to meet with 300 Ukrainian refugees in a local accommodation center. About 150 of the refugees are children. The center provides meals, Polish language lessons, counseling, and a free shop. Despite the center’s resources, a volunteer said everyone there is waiting for peace so they can return home. The prince used the opportunity to learn about the lives of several refugees, played ping pong with a few kids, and released a statement reminding everyone that Russia’s invasion is still ongoing.  
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
Putin and Xi Ping meet in 2018 Credit: Office of the President of the Russian Federation via Wikimedia Commons
Wartime Profits
  • Russia and China’s Wartime Agreement: Over the last year, China has sold over $12 million in drones to Russia to support its invasion in Ukraine. While China has claimed it wants peace in Europe, these exports are prolonging the war. China is a dominant power in the global electronics supply chain, making it difficult for the U.S. and other Western countries to crack down. There are even more significant implications: convoluted sales channels make it difficult to determine if U.S. parts are in the Chinese drones, which would directly violate U.S. export laws. But for now, China’s sales are a political question and not legal.
    • Putin and Xi Meet in Moscow: The top leaders from Russia and China met this past week to discuss the relationship between the two countries but also the war in Ukraine. China is trying to establish itself as a deal broker after helping Saudi Arabia and Iran restore diplomatic ties. This was Xi’s first trip abroad since he was reelected last month.
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. 
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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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