A military camp south of the Russian city of Voronezh arose last week as Russia brought a record number of troops and equipment to the Ukrainian border. Snapshot from Sky News report
2021/04/23 – 20:47 •
Article by: Kiev not Kiev
KYIV NOT KIEV prepared a news summary on how Ukraine spent the past week, covering the most interesting domestic political, diplomatic and cultural events. The themes of this news summary are the growing border tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the Ukrainian city that received the most prestigious award from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the fashion diplomacy of the Ukrainian First Lady.
Russia continues to create challenges for Ukraine and the rest of the world
Earlier this week, Russia had concentrated more troops near the Ukrainian border than in 2014, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. He didn’t name a specific number, but EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said Russia would concentrate 150,000 troops near Ukraine and occupy Crimea.
On April 22 it became known that Russia will withdraw part of its troops from the Ukrainian border. However, it will not remove military equipment and armaments placed near the Ukrainian border. Western allies have already responded to Russia’s intentions to allegedly withdraw troops from the borders. For example, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington “will monitor very closely” the situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border. “We have heard the words. I think what we’re going to be looking for is action, “he said.
Although Russia has been trying to talk about Ukraine without Ukraine, since the start of the tension, Ukraine’s Western allies – the United States, the European Union, the G7 and NATO – have expressed their support for Kiev.
On April 15, US President Joe Biden signed a decree on a new sanctions package against Russia. The White House has made it clear that sanctions are being imposed for interference in US elections and cyber attacks on the United States. The White House said the United States has also imposed sanctions on eight companies and individuals involved in the occupation and crackdown in annexed Crimea.
The culmination of international support was a meeting between Zelenskyy and Macron in Paris with Angela Merkel. She joined the conversation via video link. The leaders of Germany and France stressed the need for full implementation of the Minsk agreements by both sides and said that Germany and France will continue their efforts in the Normandy format.
However, is it possible to continue the Normandy format if one of its members does not declare himself to be a party to the conflict, completely ignores international law and all attempts to resolve the conflict? The question is open.
In addition to the deployment of troops in the Crimea and near the borders with Ukraine, Russia continues to carry out brazen provocations. For example, just this weekend, the Russian FSB arrested Ukrainian consul Oleksandr Sosonyuk for several hours for allegedly receiving confidential information from law enforcement databases.
Ukraine did not hesitate to respond. The Russian diplomat was declared persona non grata and had 72 hours to leave Ukraine.
But that’s not the only diplomatic scandal with Russian involvement this week. The Czech Republic expelled 18 Russian diplomats for espionage. Russian diplomats are suspected of being intelligence agents involved in an explosion at a Czech weapons depot in 2014, killing two people.
Two Russians suspected of carrying out a Novichok attack in the UK in 2018 are also now linked to the explosion. In a tit-for-tat move, Russia expelled 20 Czech diplomats.
Amid the growing Russian military presence near Ukraine’s borders, Ukraine’s requests for NATO membership are increasingly being listened to. The Baltic states have already expressed their support for Ukraine’s membership of NATO. “We support Ukraine’s aspirations for European and Euro-Atlantic membership, including what was stated in the declaration of the NATO summit in Bucharest, and we encourage Ukraine to continue the necessary reforms in this regard,” said the statement by the Foreign Ministers of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine.
However, Russia did not miss the opportunity to respond to speculations about Ukraine joining NATO. The Kremlin said that if Ukraine joins the Alliance, it will lead to a full-scale escalation of the situation in the Donbass. Interesting position, bearing in mind that Russia constantly declares its non-involvement in the events in eastern Ukraine.
As Europe tries to appease Putin, President Zelenskyy, in a video statement, invited him to meet anywhere in the Ukrainian Donbass where the war is underway. Previously, Putin ignored invitations to speak about the Ukrainian president. On April 22, Volodymyr Zelenskyy got a response: Putin said he was ready to meet Zelenskii in Moscow “at any convenient time” and, as always, called Russia – a “third party”. Simply put, he denied Russia’s involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and blamed the war on Ukraine.
A few days ago, President Zelenskyy addressed the Ukrainians about Russia’s escalation of the conflict: “Ukraine wants a war – no. But she’s ready for that – yes, ”Zelenskyy said. He stressed that Ukraine will always take steps towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict. He stressed that Ukraine never starts a war first. But he always fights to the end.
The president also thanked foreign partners for their support in appeasing Putin. At the same time, he called on them to turn their diplomatic concerns into determination: it is important for Ukraine, which is a shield for Europe, to see not only their support as partners from the stands, but as players of a team on the field.
Fashion Diplomacy of the First Lady
In choosing a dress for official events, Olena Zelenska is always guided by the desire to promote Ukrainian brands and to carry out a kind of cultural diplomacy. Fashion, in her opinion, helps to establish cultural ties between countries and express respect for the host country.
For example, before the visit to Japan, Ukrainian designer Ivan Frolov created two dresses for the first lady: yellow and blue. And not only because these are the colors of the Ukrainian flag, but also because the Japanese ceremonial protocol requires that the color match the season.
During her last visit to the fashion capital of the world, Paris, the First Lady of Ukraine wore a Ukrainian brand LAKE Studio, known for its fine work with artistic references and Ukrainian heritage. The dress looked gorgeous alongside Madame Macron’s Louis Vuitton.
At the opening of the audio guide in the Palace of Versailles, the First Lady showed a new image: she combined the trench coat of the Odessa Olenich brand with the ecological Veja sneakers, which caused a significant resonance in the network.
Critics of Zelenska’s shoes believe that sports shoes are completely unacceptable during official visits abroad. They were reminded that heeled shoes should not be worn in Versailles in order not to damage the museum’s parquet.
Following discussions on the eligibility of sneakers at Versailles, the news that Versailles will soon speak Ukrainian has been completely lost. At the initiative of Olena Zelenska, Ukrainian was added to the audio guides of the most important museums in the world such as the Colosseum in Rome, the Galata Tower in Istanbul, the Albertina Museum in Vienna. An audio guide in Ukrainian will also appear in the Tower of London as part of Olena Zelenska’s initiative.
In defense of sneakers, we will add that it is a French sustainable fashion brand. Therefore, the choice in favor of these shoes was a kind of reverence towards the host country. We want to remind you that among the most famous fans of this sustainable shoe brand are Kate Middleton, Megan Markle, Emily Ratajkowski and Emma Watson.
Olena Zelenska loves to discover the world of Ukrainian designers and prefers Ukrainian brands and designers such as ELENAREVA, ARTEMKLIMCHUK, SIX, Gunia Project, Dafna May, Vita Kin.
A city of European ideals
At the end of this news summary, we couldn’t help but mention the achievements of a beautiful Ukrainian city. And no, it’s not about Kiev!
Khmelnytskyi, a pretty town in western Ukraine – won the Europe 2021 Award – the highest award awarded annually by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to cities that most actively promote European ideals. It is not the first prize the city has received from PACE. European diploma, honorary flag, plaque of honor – the city now has a full range of awards that testify to its efforts to promote European values and approaches.
Recognized as the most comfortable city to live in Ukraine in 2020, Khmelnytskyi has been celebrating Europe Day since 2003 by organizing meetings of “European clubs” in national and European educational institutions and cultural festivals. The most famous are probably the Glushenkov Fest, which brings together national dancers from all over the world in Khmelnytskyi, and Rock and Bug, a powerful international rock festival organized with all the requirements of inclusiveness and attention to the environment.
Khmelnytskyi has a special approach to environmental protection. The city is a member of the EBRD’s Green Cities initiative (between five cities in Ukraine and 40 around the world) and works to build a recycling plant as part of a solid waste management strategy. Such a plant will be one of the first of its kind built in Ukraine. The German cities of Bamberg, Münster and Poland’s Kielce also competed for the Europe 2021 prize in the final round. But Khmelnytskyi, a city of green parks, festivals and delicious cuisine, won!
Khmelnytskyi is not the first Ukrainian city to win the Europe Prize. In 2010 the prize was awarded to Kharkiv, in 2018 to Ivano-Frankivsk.
This is how Ukraine spent its last week. Stay safe and stay tuned for more exciting materials than KYIV NOT KIEV!
Tags: Donbas, Putin, Russia