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The Ukraine War, A Perfect Case Of The Limits Of The UN

Global politics have gotten in the way of humanitarian aid when it comes to the flooding in Ukraine. Zelensky points the finger towards a deep, structural UN shortcoming.

Rescue Operations Save Residents Of Ukraine's Flooded Kherson Region Following Kakhovka Dam Destruction

Members of Ukraine's police force, military, and emergency services have been leading efforts to evacuate people - and in some cases, their beloved pets.

© Cover Images via ZUMA PRESS
Pierre Haski


PARIS – Humanitarian disasters often reveal political contradictions. The catastrophic floods caused by the partial destruction of the Kakhova dam on the Dnipro River, in southern Ukraine, are a case in point.

First, there is the now expected oppposition between the Ukrainian and Russian leaders' reactions. Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky – as he has done since the beginning of the war – was on the ground, among the civilians in distress, despite ongoing Russian bombardments.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, was filmed in the Kremlin talking to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accusing Ukraine of being behind the disaster. Two distinct atmospheres, two political styles.

Then there are the accusations made this week by the Ukrainian President against the United Nations. Zelensky points out one of the major contradictions of this war: the UN's withdrawal, in all but two major areas — nuclear power and grain movements.

Powerless in New York

But it's also an unfair criticism, as the UN is not an independent actor, but the sum of its member states: when they are divided, the UN becomes powerless.

When the aggressor is a permanent member of the UN Security Council Council, with veto power, it is unrealistic to expect the UN to maintain its role.

A photo circulated around the world yesterday showed a UN car in Kyiv, tagged as "Useless" in large graffiti letters. Clearly, Ukrainians have decided it's time to denounce the situation.

It's true that in wars all over the world, the UN normally deploys members of its specialized agencies to help the local population. Admittedly, Ukraine is a country with infrastructure, and is less dependent on such assistance. But above all, the obstacle is political — Russian, to be precise.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Emergency Meeing on Kakhovka Damn Destruction

Zelenskyy chairs an emergency meeting of the National Security and Defense Council on the situation at the Kakhovka Hydro-power plant, at the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv.

Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire

Moscow's red light

Moscow is not letting the UN get involved as it should. A green light from the Security Council would be needed, and therefore, a lack of Russian veto. This absence is cruelly felt on the Russian side of the Dnipro River, where witnesses report meager rescue efforts.

Relief has become a political question. The Ukrainians are relaying calls for help from inhabitants of Russian-occupied villages on the left bank of the Dnipro, who have been left abandoned on the roofs of their flooded homes.

Ukrainian videos even show volunteers on boats rescuing civilians in the Russian zone — high-risk operations, but good for Ukrainian publicity. Kyiv went further, with Zelensky calling on international organizations to rescue "those whom the occupier has condemned to death," those left in Russian occupied territory.

This call is unlikely to be heeded, as Moscow will not let UN aid workers into its occupied zone, in the middle of its defense lines. But, at least, Ukraine will have been able to clearly point the finger at those who oppose humanitarian aid.

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Butter Beware, Olive Oil Is Conquering French Kitchens

Spanish, Italian, Greek, Provençal: in the land of butter and cream, olive oil is all the rage! Buoyed by the wave of the Mediterranean diet, demand has soared in recent years. But production is threatened by drought in Spain, the world's leading producer.

Man holding a clear glass bottle of olive oil.

Someone pouring olive oil in a plate.

Peter Fazekas via Pexels
Laurent Guez

PARIS — It's more than just a fat. Nor even a seasoning or condiment. For its growing number of aficionados, olive oil is an object of desire, if not of worship.

"It's all anyone around me ever talks about," laughs Emmanuelle Dechelette, a former public relations professional turned olive oil sommelier. "My friends, my husband's friends, everyone consults me or asks me if I can find them this or that particular cuvée. Sometimes I feel like a 'drug dealer.'"

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After completing a diploma course in New York, in 2016 Emmanuelle created an international competition, Olio Nuovo Days , which has gradually established itself as one of the benchmarks. Producers flock from all over the world to take part, from France, Spain, Sicily, Greece, Tunisia and Lebanon, as well as Japan, Chile, Brazil and South Africa.

"Right now, without my oil La Couvée, produced in Slovenia and 2023 champion for the Northern Hemisphere, I feel like I couldn't live," says the sommelier, who likes to savor this juice simply, on a toasted baguette, a fine tomato or with fresh goat's cheese. For her, if a dish isn't flavored with olive oil, it's missing something. The elegant Dechellette consumes it without moderation: "When you say olive oil, you mean olive, not oil. It's a fruit, so it's not fatty!”

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