It has been 45 days since I last wrote about the situation in Ukraine.
While the world knows that the war is taking place it is no longer headline news. It has been relegated to the war pages just like all of the other conflicts from around the world, predominantly in the Middle East, that locals face each day.
The day that I published my last blog, 3 July, saw the visit of newly elected Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese to Kiev and he promised a raft of new bans on Russian imports to Australia. This is just one of the many countries that continue to impose sanctions but what is actually happening on the ground? What has transpired in the last 45 days.
The Last 1.5 Months:
My last blog ended with the fall of the Luhansk Oblast and the assertion by Russian troops that they would “liberate” the entire Donbas region. This was followed on the 13 July by North Korea recognising the independence of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). A week later, on 20 July Syria officially broke off diplomatic ties with Ukraine. So not everyone #standswithUkraine
On a positive note (if you can find a positive in wartime at all), Turkey brokered a deal between Ukraine and Russia to allow grain exports along Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. This meant that Russia had to allow the grain to pass through their blockade of the ports.
The ink of the agreement wasn’t even dry when Russia launched missiles at the Odessa Sea Port. It wouldn’t be until the 1st August that any grain would successfully leave the port.
At the same time Lithuania lifted a ban on the transportation of sanctioned goods to the Russian city of Kaliningrad across Lithuanian soil. Why does this matter? Kaliningrad is in that piece of Russia that is separated from the rest of Russia.
The existence of the Oblast as part of Russia is interesting as the only way to travel there from mainland Russia is to pass through at least two other bordering nations. While the Iron Curtin was up and Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union this wasn't such a problem but as Lithuania gained independence and joined NATO tensions began to rise.
Why does Russia maintain the Oblast? Well, it is Russia and they like to hang onto territory, but in actuality it is the only Baltic port of Russia that can maintain a naval fleet all year round (the others ice over in the winter months). For this reason it is an important naval location. The population comprises over 86% Russian ethnicity so it is a Russian strong-hold in that manner. Free travel between the Oblast, through neighbouring European Nations and into mainland Russia is not in place so it is a VERY isolated part of Russia.
Lithuania's blockade of Russian goods had seen over 50% of supplies stopped, so really it was only out of kindness to the people that Lithuania allowed the movement of goods to resume.
In early July Russia’s government passed legislation meaning that industry could be ordered to convert their factories for the production of war supplies. Also allowed as part of this act was for employees to be forced to work extended hours to ensure the needs of the war effort were met. This really seems like a flashback to days of old.
In the Donetsk region Russian troops captured the Vuhlehirska Power Station, the second biggest power plant in Ukraine on 26 July. Despite this “win” for Russia in the days afterwards it was reported that the Russian presence was beginning to reduce. At the same time it was reported that more Russian troops were beginning to descend on the Kherson region. By mid-August (as I write this brief overview) Russian supply chains to these troops are thought to be cut-off due to the destruction of bridges and roads.
On 9th August the Russian Saky Military Airbase in Novofedorivka, Crimea experienced approximately twenty explosions. While Ukraine has not claimed responsibility they did state that nine Russian aircraft were destroyed. The next day Ukrainian President Zelensky stated that the war began with Crimea so it must end with Crimea’s liberation. This reinstated the Ukrainian stance that they would not accept any peace deal that reinstated the status quo before 24 February.
Further to this action, as I write this blog, smoke has been seen over the Hvardiiske Airbase in Crimea (a Russian base of course). This occurrence has been noted as “just the beginning” by those within the presidential circle. Indeed, it seems this war has entered a new phase which is being led by new Ukrainian aggression.
Ukraine's Hero k9: Patron
If you haven’t heard of Patron before or seen Patron, then I’d be surprised. This doggo is a war hero and one of the more light-hearted sides you’ll see to the current war in Ukraine.
Light isn’t really the best term as it is sad a doggo like Patron is even needed but he is needed, and his work is vitally important to those communities returning to war affected parts of the country.
At just 3 years old Patron is a Jack Russell Terrier with a big job as a member of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. Patron's owner and handler is a bomb disposal technician from Chernihiv, an area that suffered the Russian invasion early on in the war. Today, Patron works hard to help identify unexploded bombs so that his home can be made safe again.
Patron has proved to be a very popular symbol of the war and has become a mascot of the efforts by ordinary Ukrainian's for the nation. He has received the Order of Courage, Third Class earlier this year.
He is truly the goodest doggo out there! (If only his services were not needed).
Further Reading (A selection):
*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:
"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.