Before I begin this blog on the war in Ukraine I want to take a minute to talk art. Specifically sculptures.
While visiting Sculpture By the Sea last week, as I always do, I picked several scultpures as my favourites. This year I was very surprised to learn that there was a theme to those I was drawn to.
That theme? Two of my favourites came from Ukraine.
My Ukrainian heritage is something I am very proud of and those who follow my postings and blogs will know I have very strong associations and feelings about what is occurring over there so finding several Ukrainian artists represented in this exhibit was a nice surprise.
The two sculptures I refer to that form the basis for this declaration of favouritism are:
“Global Warming” by Nikita Zigura and “Colossus Hols Up the World” by Egor Zigura.
Egor’s work is made of bronze and makes reference to the famous Colossus statue in Greece. The famed statue is of the sun god and Zigura’s work ponders how wearying human history has been on the Colossus. This can be interpreted as physically on the statue as well as on the world in general, specifically in reference to global warming.
When put into context with Nikita’s work it seems global warming is a central theme. These yellow-coloured cherries are made of aluminium and stainless steel. If you look closely, you can see the world map etched onto the cherries. My Mother said to me before I’d even had a chance to view this work that I’d like it as I am very akin to a world map however when I turned to view the sculpture, I pointed out that I don’t like cherries. After making that comment though I looked beyond my initial inkling and realised the deep impact of a yellow cherry. Was this global warming in progress?
Pictured below are my photos of the two sculptures as well as sunrise over Bondi Beach (3 November 2022)
On the other side of the world, while I was up early but safe in Sydney, Kiev faced a whole new terror. After months of seeing the conflict played out in the surrounding region it returned hard and fast to the capital. As I write this blog almost half of Kiev is without water and with large portions of the countries power plants have been destroyed by Russia leaving many without access to electricity.
When I last wrote about the conflict in Ukraine the Russian-occupied territories were holding referendums. On the 27 September it was announced, not surprisingly, that all regions voted in favour of annexation with Russia. These referendums were declared illegal by Ukraine and condemned internationally. At a vote later in October at the United Nations 143 members voted in favour of declaring the referendums illegal while 35 abstained from voting and just five supported the vote (other than Russia the other four nations who supported the referendums were Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua and Syria).
In Donetsk over 99% voted in favour of joining Russia and in Luhansk this was slightly less at just over 98%. This is an interesting result given more of Luhansk is under Russian control than Donetsk (see the BBC map below which shows the different reaches of Ukrainian and Russian control). The result in Zaporizhzhia was just over 93% while in Kherson, which still has a large Ukrainian resistance movement the vote in favour of annexation to Russia was the smallest at just 87%.
As a result of these referendum figures Russia has now been able to declare that these states are at risk and are in fact Russian states at risk given the popular vote for annexation. This, at least in Russia’s eyes, has allowed them to heighten their activity in these regions and defend what they now see as their lands.
This was confirmed at a press conference on 30 September when Russian President Putin formally announced the annexation of Southern Ukraine with the addition of four new regions to Russia. (For more on these regions please see my last blog, click here).
While this announcement was being made Ukraine continued to gain territory back, especially in the Kharkiv region and along the Dnieper River (moving into the Kherson Oblast). By the 3 October Ukraine announced that it had taken back control of the Kharkiv Oblast.
In retaliation, on 10 October, Russia launched a missile strike that spared no part of Ukraine, including the capital Kiev. It was declared that the attack was in retaliation for the Ukrainian attack on the bridge that linked Crimea to the Russian mainland (a key infrastructure route for Russian resources into Ukraine) however the origin of this attack has not been formally declared and Ukrainian President Zelensky has denied the attack was ordered by Ukraine. What is known is that 3-4 people died in the collapse of the brigade that resulted from the strike while over 23 died in the Russian strike of the nation.
The BBC map pictured here shows the location of the bridge in relation to Russia and the Crimea region.
Over the next few weeks Russia intensified its targeted attacks near the capital Kiev by targeting key infrastructure in an attempt to cause power and water shortages. As the drone strikes continued on the capital, strict nightly blackouts were put into effect.
At the time of writing over 40% of the country’s power systems have been damaged or destroyed with crews working to try and restore power plants and delivery lines. Ukraine has accused Russia of energy terrorism and stated that by attacking critical infrastructure it is bordering on mass genocide. Should any further damage be inflicted upon the capital it has been suggested that residents may need to flee Kiev.
The BBC map below shows all the regions that felt the impact of the Russian strikes on 30-31 October 2022.
*This blog has been put together with multiple current news sources such as the BBC World News Podcast, local nightly news and media outlets such as News.com
Articles and Websites:
"Ukraine War in Maps: Tracking the Russian Invasion", BBC News (15 August 2022), <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60506682>
"War in Ukraine", BBC World News (multiple articles), <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-60525350>
War in Ukraine (website of the War in Ukraine hosted by Ukraine), <www.war.ukraine.ua>
"Global Conflict Tracker", Council on Foreign Relations (Updated 12 May 2022), <https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-ukraine>
Disclaimer: The observations and comments made in this blog are made after reflecting on the news stories and histories I read. History plays a big part in how I understand the present so my comments largely take into account history and the role it has in the present. After all, those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.