Belarus isn’t another Crimea, no matter what Putin thinks

Alyaksandr Lukashenka doesn’t want to have his country absorbed by Russia because that would cost him and no family their power and perhaps even more, says commentator Roman Popkov. But a far greater obstacle to an Anschluss like Crimea is “the lack of desire of the broad masses of the Belarusian people” to give up the independent state they have lived in.
“Not all of these supporters of a sovereign Belarus are convinced members of the opposition,” the Russian opposition commentator says. “Not all of them consider the white-red-white flag as their own. But the overwhelming majority of Belarusians, while viewing the Russians as ‘our own’ and as ‘brothers,’ do not want to become Russians.”

A quarter of Belarusians rely on Russian media for news

One Belarusian in four has not read the Belarusian media during the last month but instead relies on Russian media, often delivered via the Internet, according to Mikhail Doroshevich, the director of the Baltic Internet Policy Initiative, on the basis of a new survey.
This group watches NTV on the Internet, goes to Russian portals like Lenta.ru and communicates with each other via Russian social media, the media expert says.
This means, he suggests, that this part of the Belarusian population already effectively lives in the Russian information space, even though their country remains independent. They simply do not follow what is going on in Belarus, except through the very distorted reporting of Russian media outlets.

Ukraine in the headlines

“The Shoals of Ukraine,” by Serhii Plokhy and M. E. Sarotte Foreign Affairs, January/February 2020:

At first, it might seem surprising that Ukraine, a country on the fringes of Europe, is suddenly at the turbulent center of American politics and foreign policy. …
In fact, that Ukraine is at the center of this storm should not be surprising at all. Over the past quarter century, nearly all major efforts at establishing a durable post–Cold War order on the Eurasian continent have foundered on the shoals of Ukraine. For it is in Ukraine that the disconnect between triumphalist end-of-history delusions and the ongoing realities of great-power competition can be seen in its starkest form.

Program celebrates 100 years of literary publications by Michigan Ukrainians

WARREN, Mich. – Sometimes, the greatest treasures are those that lie before you – unnoticed, tucked away on bookshelves or in rarely opened drawers. All it takes is a sudden realization for inspiration to take hold. Such was the case when members of Ukrainian National Women’s League of America Branch 96 perused their vast library of books at their local headquarters. This spurred the question: How many of these books were penned by Michigan authors?
As it turns out, over 200 books – in genres ranging from prose, poetry, non-fiction, memoir and drama to history, politics, journalism and more – were discovered. And this didn’t include commemorative publications, almanacs, bulletins or booklets of individual organizations. The publications span from the 1800s to the present, providing an interesting look back at the community activities of the earliest Ukrainian immigrants to the area.

“Mr. Jones” screened in Washington area

SILVER SPRINGS, Md. – Following the first of two showings in the Washington area of the new film “Mr. Jones,” describing the work of the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones in Joseph Stalin’s 1930s Soviet Union, the film’s screenwriter Andrea Chalupa discussed the story of what is now known as the Holodomor, and the hard work it took for Jones to gather the information and share that tragic history with the world. Jones secretly managed to visit Ukraine to witness and report to the Western world about the millions of Ukrainians starving to death as Stalin’s regime confiscated their wheat harvest and sold it to the West to finance his communist regime. In her hourlong discussion with the large audience on December 15 at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md., Ms. Chalupa (in front of the screen) also noted that she expects it to be very difficult to spread the two-hour-long historic film in theaters throughout the country.

Ukrainian pro hockey update
Top 20 NHL Ukrainians

As a longtime subscriber to The Hockey News and an admitted sports nut whose first love is ice hockey, this writer is well aware that one of its yearbook’s traditions is a ranking of the NHL’s top-50 players, compiled by the periodical’s writers, league GMs and scouts. Having digested still another of these annual features, your loyal hockey pundit decided to compile a ranking of the top 20 Ukrainian NHL-ers as the puck drops for 2019-2020.

Normandy four take cautious step forward at summit in Paris

KYIV – The results of the Normandy format summit that brought together the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany on December 9 – for the first time in over three years – have been greeted with cautious optimism for having reactivated the stalled negotiations based on the Minsk accords of 2014-2015 to end Russia’s war in the Donbas.
Without giving way on fundamental issues, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy managed to secure agreement on an exchange of all prisoners, a commitment to a general ceasefire and a follow-up meeting within four months. However, many political issues related to the future of eastern Ukrainian regions now controlled by joint Russian-separatist forces remained unresolved.
The nervously awaited summit that took place in Paris was preceded by much speculation and concern in Ukraine and beyond about what it might produce, and mass rallies throughout Ukraine warned against “capitulation” to Russia.

Road to peace in Ukraine: After Normandy summit

The statement below was released by the Ukrainian World Congress on December 10.

On Monday, December 9, leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany took part in the Normandy summit in Paris. The eyes of the global Ukrainian community have been fixed on this meeting, and the society has been actively engaged in determining the demands of the agenda. The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) has been supporting this peace process with a series of campaigns #StandwithUkraine #StopRussianAggression, and most recently held rallies and meetings in support of Ukraine in Paris under the leadership of Paul Grod, UWC President.

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute receives Ukrainian Church’s highest award

TORONTO – Patriarch Sviatoslav, primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), on December 8 presented the highest distinction awarded by the UGCC – the Order of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky – to the Institute of Eastern Christian Studies named after Metropolitan Andrey.
The Sheptytsky Institute is an autonomous academic unit of the Faculty of Theology of the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. The ceremony was held at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia.

Russia’s Black Sea dominance strategy: a blend of military and civilian assets

On November 14, during the Third International Conference for Maritime Security, in Odesa, Ukrainian Navy commander Admiral Ihor Voronchenko said that a Russian Tu-22M3 (Backfire) had been observed simulating the launch of a missile strike on this coastal city (Dumskaya, November 14). Admiral Voronchenko added that Russian bombers had made several similar attempts during exercises on July 10, conducting a virtual airstrike 60 kilometers from Odesa.
The Ukrainian naval chief also stressed that the Russian Federation has dramatically increased its military presence in Crimea after having illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014. For example, the number of warships stationed there grew from 34 to 49, while the number of submarines increased from one to seven. Moreover, most of these Russian vessels are being modernized and armed with 3M-54 Kalibr-type (SS-N-27 Sizzler and SS-N-30A) cruise missiles.