KYIV – On May 25, life in Ukraine’s capital returned almost back to normal. The metro is the main transport artery of Kyiv, and after its reopening, people’s mobility increased significantly. At first, Kyiv residents were afraid of going underground, but now the city center is full of people, café and restaurant terraces are occupied, and crowds are walking on the central streets.
However, the unusually cold May weather in most regions prevented Ukrainians from dangerous overcrowding. Therefore, the burst of outdoor activity in Ukraine was just beginning.
The Ukrainian government had decided to move to the second stage of eased restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic starting on May 22. During a regular session of the Cabinet of Ministers on May 20, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal noted that the coronavirus infection rate was showing a downward trend in Ukraine.
NEW YORK – The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the representative organization of nearly 2 million Americans of Ukrainian descent, on May 14 convened an extraordinary session of UCCA’s National Council, UCCA’s highest ruling body. The purpose of the meeting, held over the Zoom video and audio conferencing platform for the first time, was to discuss the planned XXIII Congress of Ukrainians in America, UCCA’s quadrennial convention. Scheduled to coincide with U.S. presidential election years, the XXIII Congress of Ukrainians will elect the UCCA’s executive officers and guide UCCA’s plan of action until the next convention.
Presided over by National Council Chair Stefan Kaczaraj, the President/CEO of the Ukrainian National Association (UNA), the extraordinary session ratified a proposal from the Presidium of the UCCA’s Executive Committee to schedule the XXIII Congress of Ukrainians for October 2021. This was done in accordance with a ruling from UCCA’s By-Laws Committee, authored by its chair, Bohdan Shandor, president of the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA).
KYIV – Ukraine has been shaken by a new scandal involving leaked recordings, purportedly made secretly at the highest level, but this time involving former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the current U.S. presidential candidate from the Democratic Party, Joe Biden.
While this affair obviously has potential ramifications within the context of the U.S. presidential campaign and for U.S.-Ukraine relations generally, it is already impacting Ukrainian domestic politics.
On May 19, Ukrainian National Deputy Andriy Derkach, an ally of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, released audio recordings received from “investigative journalists” of alleged phone conversations between former U.S. Vice-President Biden and former President Poroshenko made in 2015-2016 when they were in office.
The logic of the sanctions regime the West imposed on Moscow after Vladimir Putin seized Ukraine’s Crimea was not only to underscore its opposition to this blatant violation of international law but also to raise the price on Moscow of occupying Ukrainian territory and eventually leading the Russian government to back down and return the peninsula.
In the years since the Russian Anschluss, these sanctions have imposed enormous costs on Moscow, but they are not sufficient for Moscow to change course. Now, the coronavirus pandemic with its economic impact has raised those prices still further, prompting Moscow to launch yet another round of calls for ending sanctions so that all can focus on the pandemic.
Just as “Crimea is Ours” paled with time as a mobilizing tool, so too Vladimir Putin’s “Great Victory” by itself will be insufficient for him to dominate Russia in the future, says analyst Sergey Ilchenko, And so the Kremlin leader is adding another quiver to his bow, declaring Russia a separate civilization based on hostility to the rest of the world and its representatives inside Russia.
The Ukrainian commentator notes that new surveys show, despite what many had hoped, that the rising generation in Russia is quite prepared to follow that lead – one that resembles Nazism and presages a Russia more oppressive at home and more aggressive abroad (dsnews.ua/world/neo-rossiya-vlast-tnk-natsional-sotsializm-i-agressivnoe-19052020220000).
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that during the week of May 15-21, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 18 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions in the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 69 times in total, including at least 23 times with heavy weapons – mortars and artillery. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed three and wounded 11 enemy combatants in the last week. (Ukrainian Canadian Congress Daily Briefing)
The Crimean peninsula has long suffered from water shortages, but these are now often exacerbated by the ever-more frequent winters with little to no rain or snow. In the last several months, under Russian occupation, those difficulties have become critical: according to Russian officials, the region has seen its reserves of potable water decline by 60 percent and will entirely run out of supplies of this critical natural resource sometime in July or August (Gazeta.ua, May 21).
The situation is creating a serious public health crisis in Crimea and could prompt Moscow, which has few other options, to engage in a new military action against Ukraine to gain access to water supplies, especially as Ukrainian officials and commentators have made clear that Kyiv is not prepared to sell water to the occupation authorities (Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 19).
The statement below was posted on May 23 by the Kyiv Security Forum with this notation: “The Kyiv Security Forum expresses gratitude to the distinguished Ukrainian politicians, diplomats and civic activists for their support of the appeal to the American leaders and society on the importance of protecting the Ukrainian-American strategic partnership.”
We, the representatives of Ukrainian politics, civil society and the expert community, are deeply concerned to watch a campaign to involve Ukraine in the political competition in the United States unfold with renewed vigor.
Ukraine greatly appreciates the steadfast support of the American people for our independence, security and Western course.
Our nations share the common values of national and human freedom.
The statement below was disseminated by the Atlantic Council on May 26.
Over the past three decades, the United States and Ukraine have developed a broad and robust relationship that serves the interests of both countries, countries that share values such as democracy, liberty and human freedom. Ukraine’s success in developing as an independent, stable, democratic state with a strong market economy, anchored to European institutions, advances the U.S. interest in a more stable and secure Europe.
The bilateral relationship has long enjoyed wide bipartisan support in the United States, including in Congress and from both Republican and Democratic presidents alike. It has also enjoyed support from a broad political spectrum in Ukraine.
NEW YORK – Helen Perozak Smindak, a journalist well-known to the Ukrainian community, passed away on Saturday, May 16, in New York City from complications of COVID-19. She was 91. Ms. Smindak was a longtime columnist and feature writer for The Ukrainian Weekly. In 1957-1958, she was an editor of the newspaper, but her byline appeared on The Weekly’s pages for decades. Helen Irene Perozak was born in Fort William (now known as Thunder Bay), Ontario, on October 18, 1928.