May 19, 2015
Premium stories from Worldcrunch's own network of multi-lingual journalists in over 30 countries.
The warning comes after Washington's latest military aid package to Ukraine.
Washington’s new $625 military aid package to Kyiv has increased the likelihood of a direct military clash between the Russia and the West, warned Anatoly Antonov, Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S.
"We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country," Antonov said early Wednesday via a post on Telegram. "The supply of military products by the U.S. and its allies not only entails protracted bloodshed and new casualties, but also increases the danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries.” Antonov said the U.S. is now considered a “participant of the conflict.”
The United States announced this week that it is sending $625 million to Ukraine in additional weaponry, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers.
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, emphasizing Washington’s continued support for Kyiv “as it defends itself from Russian aggression for as long as it takes,” a statement from the White House said.
The aid package is just the latest in what has amounted to multi-billion-dollar military support for Kyiv from Washington and the rest of the West.
Christoph B. Schiltz, writing in German daily Die Welt, says the continued arms deliveries from the West should be the central objective of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, rather than putting pressure for NATO membership now.
Putin signing annexation documentsen.kremlin.ru
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law formalizing the annexation of the four Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia.
The final administrative step in a move that was globally decried following “sham” independence referendums in the regions, comes as Russia is facing significant battlefield losses in recent days — a seemingly blatant paradox which Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has brushed off: "There is no contradiction whatsoever. They will be with Russia forever and they will be returned."
Ukrainian troops continue to liberate territories of the Kharkiv, Kherson, and Luhansk regions. Over the past 24 hours, Kyiv’s forces advanced 20 kilometers into the Russian defense zone towards the supply hub of Svatove in Luhansk.
After the final liberation of the city of Lyman in the Luhansk region over the weekend, leader of Luhansk Regional Military Administration Sergiy Gaidai said the de-occupation of the entire area will now be moving even faster.
French daily Le Monde features “the Ukrainian forces’ progress on several fronts” on its front page, with a picture of a soldier in a trench near Mykolaiv.
Russia attacked the town of Bila Tserkva and the Kyiv Region with military drones. Six drones were shot down by Ukrainian air defense, and another six damaged infrastructure; the number of dead and wounded is still unknown.
"The threats are serious,” said Yiriy Ihnat, spokesman for the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, of the shift in Russia’s air tactics. “The civil-military administration has already reported on the consequences. We will use any forces and means available to us to protect our citizens and our Armed Forces and other defense forces."
Vladimir Putin at a military parade in RussiaKremlin.ru
Between 700,000 and one million people left Russia after the announcement of mobilization, according to Forbes Russia, citing sources in the Kremlin. Most of them are men, but many have crossed borders with their wives and kids.
More than 200,000 people have left for Kazakhstan alone. Demographers noted that in January-June 2022, the Russian population decreased by almost 481,000 people — which is 56% more than the decline in the first half of 2021.
In the meantime, according Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the mobilization is estimated to have drafted 200,000 recruits.
As part of his first African tour from Oct. 3-12, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba pledged to continue sending as much grain exports to Africa as possible, despite the ongoing war.
“We will do our best until the last breath to continue exporting Ukrainian grain to Africa and the world for food security,” Kuleba said at a joint press briefing with his Senegalese counterpart, Aissata Tall Sall.
Many countries depend heavily on grain imports from both Ukraine and Russia, and many Western leaders have accused the Kremlin of using food and energy supplies as a weapon. Despite Africa remaining relatively neutral on Ukraine, Kuleba says he wants to deepen his country’s ties to Africa.
Russian soldiers in Khankala, ChechnyaPresidential Press and Information Office
Russian independent newspaper Verstkareports that women in Chechnya who had protested against mobilization were subject to beatings by their own husbands, commanded to do so by local authorities.
Citing Chechen opposition activist Ibrahim Yangulbayev, Verstka says that security forces who detained more than 100 women at the protest took them to prison and also summoned their male relatives there. They forced them to beat their wives or sisters, warning they would be dealt with more severely otherwise.
In a move promoted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine has announced it will join Spain’s and Portugal’s bid to co-host the 2030 World Cup. Spain and Portugal, which had already announced two years ago that they would make a joint proposal to host the event in eight years, confirm that they will add Ukraine to host one of the groups of matches.
Ukraine’s national soccer team is currently playing its home matches in Poland, but is confident that any security concerns will not be resolved in the future. The Spain-Portugal-Ukraine bid will face off against other partnerships, including a collaboration between Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia, and a South American proposal from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile.
The warning comes after Washington's latest military aid package to Ukraine.
States and technology have failed to stop the destruction of the natural world, but a deceptively simple rethinking of our habits could turn the tide.
Ukraine's President Zelensky should not be putting pressure for NATO membership now. It raises the risk of a wider war, and the focus should be on continuing arms deliveries from the West. After all, peace will be decided on the battlefield.
Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.
Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.
Then there is Mariupol, under siege and symbol of Putin’s cruelty. In the largest city on the Azov Sea, with a population of half a million people, Ukrainians make up slightly less than half of the city's population, and Mariupol's second-largest national ethnicity is Russians. As of 2001, when the last census was conducted, 89.5% of the city's population identified Russian as their mother tongue.
Between 2018 and 2019, I spent several months in Mariupol. It is a rugged but beautiful city dotted with Soviet-era architecture, featuring wide avenues and hillside parks, and an extensive industrial zone stretching along the shoreline. There was a vibrant youth culture and art scene, with students developing projects to turn their city into a regional cultural center with an international photography festival.
There were also many offices of international NGOs and human rights organizations, a consequence of the fact that Mariupol was the last major city before entering the occupied zone of Donbas. Many natives of the contested regions of Luhansk and Donetsk had moved there, taking jobs in restaurants and hospitals. I had fond memories of the welcoming from locals who were quicker to smile than in some other parts of Ukraine. All of this is gone.
Putin is bombing the very people he has claimed to want to rescue.
According to the latest data from the local authorities, 80% of the port city has been destroyed by Russian bombs, artillery fire and missile attacks, with particularly egregious targeting of civilians, including a maternity hospital, a theater where more than 1,000 people had taken shelter and a school where some 400 others were hiding.
The official civilian death toll of Mariupol is estimated at more than 3,000. There are no language or ethnic-based statistics of the victims, but it’s likely the majority were Russian speakers.
So let’s be clear, Putin is bombing the very people he has claimed to want to rescue.
Putin’s Public Enemy No. 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is a mother-tongue Russian speaker who’d made a successful acting and comedy career in Russian-language broadcasting, having extensively toured Russian cities for years.
Rescuers carry a person injured during a shelling by Russian troops of Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine.
Yes, the official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, and a 2019 law aimed to ensure that it is used in public discourse, but no one has ever sought to abolish the Russian language in everyday life. In none of the cities that are now being bombed by the Russian army to supposedly liberate them has the Russian language been suppressed or have the Russian-speaking population been discriminated against.
Sociologist Mikhail Mishchenko explains that studies have found that the vast majority of Ukrainians don’t consider language a political issue. For reasons of history, culture and the similarities of the two languages, Ukraine is effectively a bilingual nation.
"The overwhelming majority of the population speaks both languages, Russian and Ukrainian,” Mishchenko explains. “Those who say they understand Russian poorly and have difficulty communicating in it are just over 4% percent. Approximately the same number of people say the same about Ukrainian.”
In general, there is no problem of communication and understanding. Often there will be conversations where one person speaks Ukrainian, and the other responds in Russian. Geographically, the Russian language is more dominant in the eastern and central parts of Ukraine, and Ukrainian in the west.
Like most central Ukrainians I am perfectly bilingual: for me, Ukrainian and Russian are both native languages that I have used since childhood in Kyiv. My generation grew up on Russian rock, post-Soviet cinema, and translations of foreign literature into Russian. I communicate in Russian with my sister, and with my mother and daughter in Ukrainian. I write professionally in three languages: Ukrainian, Russian and English, and can also speak Polish, French, and a bit Japanese. My mother taught me that the more languages I know the more human I am.
At the same time, I am not Russian — nor British or Polish. I am Ukrainian. Ours is a nation with a long history and culture of its own, which has always included a multi-ethnic population: Russians, Belarusians, Moldovans, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Romanians, Hungarians, Poles, Jews, Greeks. We all, they all, have found our place on Ukrainian soil. We speak different languages, pray in different churches, we have different traditions, clothes, and cuisine.
My mother taught me that the more languages I know the more human I am.
Like in other countries, these differences have been the source of conflict in our past. But it is who we are and will always be, and real progress has been made over the past three decades to embrace our multitudes. Our Jewish, Russian-speaking president is the most visible proof of that — and is in fact part of what our soldiers are fighting for.
Many in Moscow were convinced that Russian troops would be welcomed in Ukraine as liberating heroes by Russian speakers. Instead, young soldiers are forced to shoot at people who scream in their native language.
Starving people ina street of Kharkiv in 1933, during the famine
Putin has tried to rally the troops by warning that in Ukraine a “genocide” of ethnic Russians is being carried out by a government that must be “de-nazified.”
These are, of course, words with specific definitions that carry the full weight of history. The Ukrainian people know what genocide is not from books. In my hometown of Kyiv, German soldiers massacred Jews en masse. My grandfather survived the Buchenwald concentration camp, liberated by the U.S. army. My great-grandmother, who died at the age of 95, survived the 1932-33 famine when the Red Army carried out the genocide of the Ukrainian middle class, and her sister disappeared in the camps of Siberia, convicted for defying rationing to try to feed her children during the famine.
On Tuesday, came a notable report of one of the latest civilian deaths in the besieged Russian-speaking city of Kharkiv: a 96-year-old had been killed when shelling hit his apartment building. The victim’s name was Boris Romanchenko; he had survived Buchenwald and two other Nazi concentration camps during World War II. As President Zelensky noted: Hitler didn’t manage to kill him, but Putin did.
Genocide has returned to Ukraine, from Kharkiv to Kherson to Mariupol, as Vladimir Putin had warned. But it is his own genocide against the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine.