McDonald's reopened in Kyiv this past week, leading to long lines. Credit: Legit.ng
It's a bad time to be a Russian. As Putin calls up 300,000 men to serve in the military, many have become spooked and made a dash for the border. If they are headed to the Middle East they may find a more sympathetic group, as a new study showed that a significant number of Arab youth blame NATO for the current war. Russians are not the only ones who are spending time abroad, as First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, announced her new charitable organization at a New York fundraiser. Back in Ukraine, referendums are set to take place in Russian-occupied territories. The votes, which many view as illegal, will decide if the areas join Russia. The war is not stopping Ukraine's crypto scene, as the country created the first payment card that runs entirely on cryptocurrency.
All this and more in the below 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.
Ukranian-born U.S. Representative Victoria Spartz (R-IN). Credit: Rep. Spartz's Office
Ukrainian to the U.S. Senate? In past editions, we have brought you stories about U.S. Congresswoman Victoria Spartz, who is originally from Ukraine but is currently a U.S. Representative from Indiana. She has garnered headlines for her poor treatment of staff and attacks on the Zelenskyy administration. With rumors swirling that current Indiana Senator Mike Braun will not run for reelection, Spartz has allegedly expressed interest in making a Senate run. If elected, she would gain a much larger platform for her to lob attacks at the current administration in Kyiv.
Arab Youth Assign Blame: According to a new survey, nearly a third of Arab youth believe that the U.S. and its NATO allies are more responsible for the war in Ukraine than Russia. This is a stark contrast to the sentiment held in Western nations that Russia is the clear aggressor. But one professor interviewed about the study said that blame for the conflict should not be confused for support of the invasion and added "you cannot lump Arab countries together on this issue.”
The Zelenska Charitable Foundation:On Friday, Olena Zelenska introduced her foundation to an American group at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In attendance were American celebrities, including Jimmy Falon, and also former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Zelenska stood up the foundation to assist with the various humanitarian needs in the country, especially those involving children. Zelenska and her husband have both been thrust into the spotlight since the war began, as they have made numerous pleas for assistance in front of several international audiences.
🪖 Human Moment: 🪖 Ukrainian soldiers joke around as tanks race one another.
The Saint Javelin meme photo. Credit: Flickr
Diaspora Supports Those Still in Ukraine
Theater Goes Deep Under: In the southern port city of Mykolaiv, a cultural institution adapted to the current circumstances so it could continue to deliver movies to local residents. The Mykolaiv Academic Theater, formerly the Mykolaiv Academic Art Theater of Russian Drama, is presenting a film festival in a bomb shelter that can accommodate up to 40 people. The organization’s director, Artem Svistun, said that this is the only open cultural institution in the entire city, making its job even more important.
Meme to Fundraiser:By now you have likely seen the St. Javelin meme which depicts the Virgin Mary holding the American-made anti-tank weapon, the Javelin. The meme, which has raised a million dollars for the rebuilding effort in Ukraine, is the creation of Christian Borys, a Canadian journalist who used to cover the conflict in Ukraine. While the graphic has sky-rocketed in popularity, members of Ukraine’s religious community see the design as offensive.
New Leader at Ukrainian Museum: The Ukrainian Museum in Manhattan’s Ukrainian Village has announced that Peter Doroshenko will be the organization’s newest director. Doroshenko claims that this is “the largest museum focused on Ukrainian culture and heritage outside of Ukraine.” Doroshenko, who was born in Chicago to Ukrainian immigrants, spent the last 11 years as director of the Dallas Contemporary in Dallas, Texas. He also served as the founding president of the Pinchuk Museum in Kyiv, when it opened in 2006. Under his leadership, the Pinchuk established itself as the preeminent museum for contemporary art in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently announced a partial mobilization of troops and enacted stiff punishments for disobedience in the military. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
All Hands on Deck
Gathering Troops: On September 21st, Russian President Putin ordered a partial mobilization of roughly 300,000 troops with military experience. It is the first call-up of troops in Russia since WWII, but it is unclear if this is a prelude to a national mobilization. The reservists must undergo training before being deployed to the front in Ukraine.
Domestic Scare: In response to the announcement, international flights from Russia sold out, and anti-militarization protests took place in 38 cities around the country. As of September 21st, Russian authorities had arrested over 1,300 people for participating in the demonstrations.
Kremlin Clamps Down: Kremlin officials levied stronger desertion punishments that carry sentences of three to ten years, to dissuade people from fleeing the country. The law also stiffens discipline for voluntarily surrendering to Ukrainian troops, looting, and disobeying orders on the front lines.
Referendum Votes: The partial mobilization came a day after Kremlin officials announced referendums would take place in four occupied territories in Ukraine. Western and Ukrainian officials believe the votes in Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhia are just a fabricated pretext for Russia to annex the territories. The results will likely be announced on Tuesday. In 2014, Russia used a similar tactic in Crimea before it illegally annexed the Black Sea peninsula.
Another Massacre: After liberating thousands of square miles of territory in the Kharkiv Oblast, officials uncovered a mass burial site in Izium, located 76 miles southeast of Kharkiv. The mass burial site contained the bodies of 450 people, many showing signs of torture. In April, Ukrainian officials uncovered a similar massacre site with 116 bodies outside Kyiv in the town of Bucha.
Europol headquarters in The Netherlands. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Hackathon for Refugees: The E.U.’s cyber-crime agency, Europol, brought together investigators from 20 different countries for a hackathon that “targeted human traffickers attempting to lure Ukrainian refugees.” During the event on September 6th, the agency monitored 114 online platforms. As a result, investigators found 30 sites directly targeting vulnerable Ukrainian refugees, 10 of which were involved in human trafficking. National law enforcement agencies around the E.U. will use the leads to conduct criminal investigations.
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
Company logo of Tether, a popular crypto stablecoin that is currently the only cryptocurrency shoppers can use with the new crypto payment card. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Future of Economics
Crypto King: In alignment with its efforts to be the crypto capital of the world, Ukraine launched the world’s first payment card exclusively using cryptocurrency. Shoppers can currently only link stablecoin accounts of the currency called Tether (USDT), but soon they will be able to use bitcoin and altcoin. Unex, Mastercard, and Weld worked together to launch the no-fees crypto card. As a result, users can withdraw money from ATMs, pay for goods and services without conversion fees, and even add it to Apple and Google pay.
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.