While there is a growing sense in North America that we may have begun to turn a corner in the fight against the ongoing pandemic, the situation in Ukraine appears to be moving in the opposite direction. There has been a surge in COVID-19 infections, and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko recently announced that the capital will remain in a lockdown until at least April 30.
Amid an ongoing pandemic currently spiking throughout the country and amid a growing threat of renewed Russian aggression and more Russian troops mobilizing along its northern, eastern and southern borders, Ukraine has simultaneously been tasked by Western allies with rooting out corruption and graft endemic throughout much of the country.
The editorial in last week’s issue of The Ukrainian Weekly focused on the rising level of violence occurring in Donbas. We noted that, according to a March 20 report by Radio Svoboda, it appeared that the number of “separatist” forces near the occupied towns of Horlivka and Mospino, both in the Donetsk region, had increased recently.
Writing for Eurasia Daily Monitor on March 24, journalist Yuri Lapaiev noted a “creeping escalation” along the line of contact between Ukrainian and Russia-backed forces in Donbas. This creeping escalation comes despite a ceasefire that was brokered last year and started officially on July 27, 2020. Mr. Lapaiev wrote that the ceasefire, while technically still in place, “is functionally over.”
Perhaps the winds are beginning to shift. Or, perhaps it’s just the ongoing pandemic restrictions that have begun to affect Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is often described as intent on projecting a calm, controlled yet commanding demeanor. But clearly something has riled the normally staid former KGB intelligence officer.
While the origins of International Women’s Day date back to the early 20th century, it wasn’t until 1977 that the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 an official U.N. holiday for women’s rights. It has since been commemorated annually by the U.N. and much of the world, including in Ukraine where marches this year were held in Kyiv, Lviv, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv and Zaporizhia, among other cities.
Larysa Kosach-Kvitka – known by her literary pseudonym Lesia Ukrainka – was born on February 25, 1871. She died on August 1, 1913, at the age of 42 following a life-long battle with tuberculosis. The illness struck when she was still a young girl. It developed first in her hands, then her legs and finally in her lungs. As a result of both her illness and the treatments she received at the time to fight her tuberculosis, she could write only in irregular intervals. She spent much of her life seeking medical help in the Caucasus, Egypt, Germany and Italy. Despite the severe and often debilitating physical struggles she endured, Ukrainka maintained a deep optimism and hope for the future.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on February 25 that he appointed former finance minister Oksana Markarova to be the country’s new ambassador to the United States. Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba proposed Ms. Markarova for the position in late November 2020, despite her having no experience in the foreign service.
On February 17, the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution calling the pro-democracy Euro-Maidan protests of 2013-2014 – known as the Revolution of Dignity – a significant nation-building moment in the country’s history.
Last month members of the Ukrainian National Foundation (UNF), an affiliated company of the Ukrainian National Association, held a virtual winter fundraising gala. The event, “Rekindle the Magic of Soyuzivka,” raised more than $200,000 to benefit the Soyuzivka Heritage Center in Kerhonkson, N.Y., a place that is near and dear to many in the Ukrainian diaspora of North America. The amount of money raised is an outstanding achievement and organizers of the event should certainly be proud of the accomplishment. Officials of the UNF set an original goal of raising $500,000. “A lofty goal,” wrote UNF President Dr. Wasyl Szeremeta in a letter prior to the event.