Europe

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

‘They Don’t Know How Open We Are – They Grew Up On Propaganda’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/04/2022 - 11:30pm in

Zarina Zabrisky speaks to Katerina Tuiziukova, a Ukrainian UN volunteer helping those fleeing Putin's war, at a temporary refugee placement centre in Moldova

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

When Katerina Tuiziukova turned 12, Russia invaded Crimea. Growing up in Volnovakha in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, from that day on, war was never far away. 

“I didn’t quite understand it,” she told Byline Times. “I remember playing basketball and hearing explosions and feeling the earth shaking.

“Eight years passed and Volnovakha lived and prospered, with pretty parks and houses. When my parents divorced, my mom, brother and I moved to a village near Volnovakha. Three of us lived on an average Ukrainian salary, in a one-room apartment. In summers, we visited our grandmother in a village nearby, staying at a typical Soviet cottage-house, with a kitchen garden. We were an ordinary family living an ordinary life.”

Today, Tuiziukova lives in Moldova, Europe’s poorest country which has welcomed more than 400,000 Ukrainian refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. This is the most refugees per capita of any country. She had been studying international relations there when Russia attacked her home country. 

Just before the invasion, Tuiziukova and her brother Ilya Ponomarenko – a journalist at the Kyiv Independent – persuaded her mother to leave the village and go to the capital. The move came just in time.

“The day before our house got shelled and half of it burned out; the windows got broken too,” Tuiziukova said. “Mom didn’t want to leave  –  Ilya used deceit, asking for help with home repairs. When she was on the train, the Russians started bombing all over Ukraine and I couldn’t reach her because the connection was down.

"From Kyiv, Ilya took Mom to west Ukraine. She was in a state of shock after abruptly losing her job, home, and living with strangers, without connection with loved ones. She was also worried sick about my brother who had to go back to Kyiv.”

Her mother may have got to safety, but Tuiziukova’s great aunt died as a result of the war.

“Our great aunt, 77, who lived with us, stayed alone and died of hypothermia on 19 March,” Tuiziukova said. “There was no heating, sewerage, or running water in the house. A lot of elderly people suffer from the noise and stress of the explosions. For a while, we didn’t know about her death. Our neighbours, who took care of her, buried her somewhere  –  we don’t know where.”

Tuiziukova is also afraid for her father. His house in Volnovakha has been destroyed by shelling and she does not know where he is.

“There is no way to reach him and I had not heard from him since the start of the war,” she added.

The Invasion

For the first two weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, life was full of “fear and panic” Tuiziukova said.

When the Russian soldiers arrived, “no one thought that anything bad would happen" and "when they hung up their flag, we just laughed".

"They first offered Coca-Cola and bananas to the children," she told Byline Times. "Then there was shelling for days and everyone lived in basements. This hostility of the Russians is mind-boggling. As is the Nazi label they attached to Ukrainians.”

She said that, at a bus stop in Moldova, a Russian woman recently blamed the “Ukrainian Nazis” for the “repressions of Russians” and threatened the “Russian invasion of Moldova”. 

“They often use the language argument and claim that in Lviv, if you speak Russian, you will be treated badly,” said Tuiziukova. “I speak Russian and have been to Lviv many times – it is really fine. Most Russians have never been to Ukraine so they don’t know how open we are. They grew up on propaganda. The power in Russia has not changed for many years.”

Since the invasion, Tuiziukova has focused her energy on helping people to leave Volnovakha.

“At the moment, my friend and I are trying to help two women and two children to get out,” she told this newspaper. “There are about 25 checkpoints, and distances that used to take two hours, now take days and weeks. The people are simply hostages. When asked when the road would open, the Russian soldiers jokingly said, ‘when we take Mariupol’."

Her brother wrote on Twitter: "I keep thinking about this and I find nothing that proves me wrong. From the Russian side, this is one of the dumbest, most absurd, and idiotic wars in human history. Literally anything the Kremlin tries to present as a justification sounds like schizophrenic obsessive delusion.”

Helping Others

Today, Tuiziukova volunteers at Moldoexpo, a temporary refugee placement centre in Chișinău, Moldova.

“After fear and panic, came sadness, followed by anger, until I got a volunteering job at the refugee centre,” she said. “I calmed down. When you check someone in, help them to find a flight, see them smile, even though these are trifles, you feel needed, you feel that you are doing something for your fellow citizens.”

Moldoexpo offers accommodation and has a ‘Blue Dot Centre’ – a UNICEF programme that offers families and children services such as information, counselling, child-friendly spaces, psychological support, hygiene, health and nutrition services, and basic legal advice. It is also a cash enrolment centre that – in collaboration with the Government and the World Food Programme – provides cash to 150,000 refugees and Moldovan hosts. 

“Most people at the centre are from Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Odessa regions,” Tuiziukova said. “Sometimes, there are long lines at the registration. People are mostly okay but some cry. Refugees get three good meals a day and sleeping compartments. There are showers, and playrooms for kids.”

But Tuiziukova is fearful for the future.

“There’s no home anymore, nowhere to return,” she told Byline Times. “The very concept of home has collapsed. I have to stay here, it is not clear for how long. I really like Moldova, and most people here support Ukraine, but it’s hard.”

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Tackling Climate Change is the Best Way to Defeat Putin

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/04/2022 - 6:00pm in

The West has an incredibly powerful weapon against Russia which it has so far refused to use, argues Mike Buckley

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

Western nations are not doing enough to end the war in Ukraine. That is the view of its President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Ukraine needs weapons," he said in a recent video message. "We need heavy artillery, armoured vehicles, air defence systems and combat aircraft. Anything to repel Russian forces and stop their war crimes... Western nations have everything to make it happen. The final victory over the tyranny and the number of people saved depends on them."

The US has sent $1.7 billion in lethal aid since the start of the Russian invasion, though those weapons have largely consisted of anti-aircraft and anti-armour munitions, drones, rocket systems and ammunition. In a possible shift to heavier weapons, Joe Biden's administration is expected to announce a $750 million package that will include Howitzer artillery. 

Until recently, President Biden was hesitant to help Ukraine obtain larger weapons systems, fearful that such moves could draw Russia’s ire and escalate the conflict. Last month, after Poland offered to transfer its fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, Washington balked at the idea and said that it was not “tenable".   

With the Kremlin now expected to heavily attack Donbas, Ukraine’s messaging appears to have led to Western nations shifting their stance.

“There has been a sense of urgency,” a senior US defence official told reporters. “Clearly we understand as the Russians begin to refocus their efforts that time is of the essence.”

The devastation seen in Bucha and Mariupol too has focused Western minds, as has the failure of President Vladimir Putin to negotiate. There is no sign of a Russian withdrawal or even the beginnings of a negotiated end to the war. 

Sending more arms is an essential step for the West to take if it is serious about wanting to defend Ukraine and turn back Russian aggression. But more arms alone are unlikely to lead to a swift end to the conflict. Putin is committed and will not withdraw unless forced to. 

The West has one powerful weapon it so far refuses to use.

West Must Turn Off the Taps

Western nations may rightly claim that the sanctions regime against the Russian state and its oligarchs is unprecedented – but it is also fatally flawed. 

Since the war began, the EU as a whole has spent more than €35 billion on Russian oil and gas – money that goes directly to support the Russian state and its economy. 

It is not just Europe. Cargoes of Russian Sokol crude from Asia have sold out for the next month. Several Chinese firms used local currency to buy Russian coal in March. Gas flows from Russia to Europe have, if anything, increased since the invasion began.

None of these sales are subject to sanctions. Bloomberg expects that Russia will earn about $320 billion from energy exports this year – up by more than a third from 2021. The rouble has already rebounded to its pre-war price against the dollar; a sign that markets expect the Russian economy to do just fine. 

No one argues that ending imports of Russian fossil fuels – in particular gas – would be easy for Europe. Many European nations buy huge quantities of Russian oil and gas; Germany for example gets around a third of its gas from the country. Without that gas lights would go off across Germany, Italy and a host of other EU nations. Factories would shut down, jobs would be lost. 

But, just because it is not easy, does not mean that it is not necessary. As things stand, the EU and other Western nations are both opposing Putin’s aggression and funding it. That cannot endure. 

Current plans to shift gas supply to imported liquid national gas from the US are too slow. It would take months or years to build the required infrastructure in the US to liquify and export the gas and for Europe to receive it. In the meantime, the war would continue. 

Such plans are also unjustifiable in the decade when scientists argue that global emissions need to be halved to prevent runaway climate change. There is no longer the luxury of building new fossil fuel infrastructure – all energy investment must be channelled into low carbon energy production. 

“Financial and other sanctions have weakened the Russian economy [but] fall short of crippling the economy as long as they do not interrupt the flow of revenue from exports,” Patrick Honohan, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute in Washington and former European Central Bank policy-maker, has observed. 

President Zelensky himself has criticised current Western sanctions as inadequate. “It can hardly be called commensurate with the evil that the world saw in Bucha,” he said.

Ending the War Sooner Rather than Later

Some Russian sales are beyond the control of the US, NATO or the EU. China is preparing to receive the first commodity shipments from Moscow paid for in yuan since several Russian banks were cut off from the international financial system. Russian crude that would normally end up in refineries in Europe or the US is heading for Asia, where buyers, particularly in India, are taking advantage of steep discounts. 

But much is within their control, all the more given the absence of infrastructure that would enable Vladimir Putin to export gas to the east if Europe was to end its imports. 

EU foreign ministers are likely to discuss imposing an oil embargo on Russia, according to Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy chief. Borrell said that a ban on oil is not in the latest sanctions package, though he expects ministers will tackle it “and sooner or later – I hope sooner – it will happen”.

Russia’s natural gas supplies continue to flow freely as Europe faces an energy cost crunch that’s prompting governments to think twice before taking action that could see prices rise further. 

FEARLESS, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
& INCREDIBLE VALUE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and support quality, investigative reporting.

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES FOR AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

But even nations heavily reliant on Russian gas are beginning to see the necessity of ending imports, regardless of the cost. Italy, one of the biggest buyers of Russian gas, has said that it would support a ban if the bloc was united behind the idea, a move that Germany among others has so far opposed.

The best outcome for Ukraine, to enhance the likelihood of ending the war in weeks rather than months or years – and for hopes of preventing climate chaos – is a collective European shift to low carbon energy, ideally with financial and technical assistance from the US. 

Such a programme would be justified by the climate crisis alone, and is exactly what the latest report by the International Panel on Climate Change calls for. It is further justified by the war in Ukraine.

Western nations have done so much already to support Ukraine. Billions have been spent in aid and on arms. Sanctions have been imposed which harm Western economies as well as Russia. European nations, with the notable exception of the UK, have opened their borders to refugees and committed to provide housing, education and access to work for at least three years. 

But, as President Zelensky recognises, it is not enough. To be meaningful, more arms must be allied with a ban on the import of Russian fuels. To do otherwise would leave the West, in particular the EU, attempting to end the war while continuing to fund it. 

The people of Ukraine deserve better and the climate crisis demands a near immediate shift away from fossil fuels. The time for Western leaders to deliver is now. 

Mike Buckley is a freelance journalist and director of Campaign Central

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Post-Brexit Britain: A Rotting, Corrupted State

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 8:09pm in

Chris Grey explores why the UK’s departure from the EU cannot be separated from other challenging political and public developments in Britain today

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

The refusal of Boris Johnson to resign, despite being the first sitting Prime Minister ever to have broken the law and despite all the lies he told about having done so, is shocking, but not surprising to even the tiniest degree.

That is partly because of his complete lack of moral character but also because it is both symptomatic and symbolic of the condition of post-Brexit Britain. 

Increasingly, it is necessary to speak of this as a ‘condition’ because, as time goes by, what is at stake is a diffuse and generalised climate rather than simply specific damage caused by Brexit. The word ‘condition’ is also apposite since it carries connotations of chronic illness: ‘long Brexit’, so to speak.

From this point of view, separating Brexit from other political and public events – especially the Coronavirus pandemic – is complicated, and of course this complication is used by Brexiters to deny or conceal the effects of Brexit. 

Typically, they deride discussion of these effects as the province of ‘continuity Remainers’ suffering ‘Brexit Derangement Syndrome’. It is worth reflecting on what that derision implies.

Presumably, Brexiters believe that leaving the EU will make long-term differences to the UK. If not, then why bother? But, if so, then why would it be deranged the discuss the effects? The obvious answer is because they have been so dire that they discredit the decision to leave. 

It is striking how, despite Brexit being a major and ongoing national change, it is so little discussed any more. Within this, there are two different issues.

The most obvious is that of recognising that almost all events have more than one cause. The huge queues at Dover over the Easter period are a good example. 

It is right to say that some of this is nothing to do with Brexit, for example Easter holiday traffic. But it is also partly due to staff shortages which are partly due to Brexit. It is also partly because P&O ferries haven’t been running, and that’s because of errors made by the new crews following the mass sacking to save costs, which in turn was because of the reduction in cross-Channel trade, and that was caused partly by Brexit. Some of it was due to the breakdown of IT systems, which was not a result of Brexit but the need for those systems is. All of this came on top of the ‘new normal’ of queues at Dover which is a direct result of the new border processes required by Brexit. And that was on top of pre-existing traffic problems which had nothing at all to do with leaving the EU.

The second issue is that, while most events have multiple causes, it does not follow that those causes are themselves independent of each other.

The Coronavirus crisis is again the most important example. It arrived as the UK formally left the EU and when the terms of future trade were beginning to be negotiated. So, just as every country in the world had COVID-19 in its own way according to its own particular circumstances, the way the UK had it was in the particular and unique circumstances of Brexit. Our COVID was ‘Brexit COVID’.

It is not just that both Brexit and the pandemic led to labour shortages and disruptions to trade and supply chains. It is that the Brexit we had was different because of COVID and the COVID we had was different because of Brexit.

For example, the Coronavirus crisis exacerbated staff shortages, as some EU nationals were leaving because of Brexit. It also meant that many EU nationals returned to their home countries, as they very well might have done regardless of Brexit, but Brexit made it impossible for them to return if they didn’t have settled status. In any case, it made them less likely to want to return.

Looked at from a different direction, the fact that the Brexit trade negotiations took place during the pandemic inflected them in particular ways – not least because at certain times key actors were ill, and because much of the negotiation had to take place virtually.

Similarly, the hostility of the Brexiters, including Boris Johnson, to any extension to the transition period – a hostility which pre-dated the pandemic – led to a refusal to do so despite the pandemic. With more time, a more comprehensive agreement might have been reached. Equally, much administrative bandwidth was taken up with ‘no-deal’ planning, just when it was needed for the Coronavirus crisis.

Then, when the deal was in place and the transition period ended just days later, the economic punch of Brexit was immediate; landing on the bruise of the ongoing pandemic and reducing our resilience to its effects in a way no other country experienced.

Certainly, it is the case that the UK’s response to the pandemic, including the current policy of effectively pretending that it is over and not making any significant attempt to handle its ongoing impacts such as those of Long COVID, has been inextricably intertwined with Brexit politics. 

The crossover of membership between the influential Brexiter European Research Group and the anti-restrictions, anti-lockdown COVID Recovery Group of Conservative MPs is a prime example. So is the pressure from anti-lockdown populists such as Nigel Farage who, as with Brexit, exert powerful influence upon government policy from the outside.

So it is not that there is Brexit and there is COVID, as two factors each having their own independent impact: Brexit policy and its effects are somewhat different because of COVID, while COVID policy and its effects are somewhat different because of Brexit. It is in this sense that the UK has had ‘Brexit COVID’, which forms part of the post-Brexit condition of the country. 

FEARLESS, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
& INCREDIBLE VALUE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and support quality, investigative reporting.

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES FOR AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

A Poorer Country

Britain is a country going metaphorically and literally rotten.

Crops have been lying unharvested in fields since at least 2019 because of labour shortages, risking permanent damage to farming. At least 40,000 healthy pigs having been culled for lack of butchers. Delays caused by post-Brexit barriers to trade have meant that meat and fish become unsaleable as they sit for hours in traffic jams. These are not ‘teething troubles’ – the transition period ended more than a year ago.

Staff shortages are now endemic, meaning quite basic things are becoming difficult or impossible to do. They are part of the reason for the crisis in the NHS. The HGV driver shortage, so much in the news last year, persists. There aren’t enough staff for everything from the Border Agency to restaurants, construction to buses. Almost daily there are reports of huge delays in things like driving licence and passport renewals or granting probate on wills.

There are any number of such examples and almost everyone is surely noticing how many of the things we used to take for granted just don’t work properly any more.

Simply raising wages isn’t the answer – that may pull staff into one sector, but only at the expense of another. And, in the absence of productivity increases, it only contributes to inflation, which is also caused in part by the extra costs to business of Brexit trade barriers.  

It is perfectly true that this isn’t just happening in the UK. But it is happening in particular ways here.

It would be different if the UK had not ended freedom of movement of people and introduced new barriers to trade. It might have been different if it had not, at least in England, dispensed too early with all Coronavirus protections and scrapped COVID sick pay provisions, under the influence of anti-restriction Brexiters.

It is also true that many of the UK’s problems pre-date both Brexit and the pandemic. But, again, the point is that they come on top of, and exacerbate, these problems. It is the layering of one factor on top of the other – with Brexit, uniquely, the entirely self-inflicted and avoidable factor – which is rotting our country away.

There are good reasons to think that this rot will continue.

Labour market figures show significant increases in economic inactivity over the past two years among the over-50s, including sharp rises in early retirements especially for skilled and professional workers. Long COVID is one important reason but, anecdotally, disaffection with Brexit and the derogatory treatment of ‘Remainer’ professionals labelled the ‘liberal metropolitan elite’ also plays a part.

Again, it is possible to see similar trends in other countries, but they impact post-Brexit Britain in specific ways. They contribute to a stripping-out of experience and expertise which can only make daily life more difficult. To take an important example, there are sharp rises in GPs taking early retirement and warnings of a 'mass exodus' within the next five years. Even if it is denied that Brexit has anything to do with these trends, they would not matter so much if there were not also skill shortages because of Brexit.

What cannot be denied is that Brexit is having a major negative impact on trade with the EU, with knock-on consequences for the entire economy, including tax rises. For while here, too, COVID and increasingly the war in Ukraine are also having an effect, several studies have shown that it is relatively easy to separate out the specific damage of Brexit. Quite simply, Brexit is making our country poorer.

Against this, the benefits of Brexit could be weighed – if there were any significant examples. But those which have been claimed are either very limited, yet to materialise, or nothing to do with Brexit at all.

The latter includes the most common false claim of a Brexit benefit, namely the vaccine roll-out and, more recently, the nonsensical suggestion that leaving the EU has allowed Britain to ‘lead on Ukraine’. Most justifications for Brexit now simply take the form of claiming that it has been less damaging than some of the direst predictions or that it will deliver its benefits at some vague point in the future.

Meanwhile, basic services no longer work properly and whole industries are in crisis. Even the long-term viability of the Union is in doubt, with the Northern Ireland peace process seriously strained. Entirely predictably, pre-referendum promises to match EU structural funds for regional development in England are also being broken.

A Corrupted Body Politic

Inseparable from this malaise is the parlous state of our political institutions. Which brings things back to Boris Johnson’s refusal, aided and abetted by his party, to resign. This latest example of moral rot symbolises an entire country going rotten; its entire national strategy now founded on the lies, delusions and fantasies of Brexit. 

The Prime Minister is both the foremost and yet the least important manifestation of this rot. For, while it is a cliché that the ‘fish rots from the head’, his departure would not in itself improve things: the rot has now gone too deeply into the body politic because it doesn’t just come from Johnson’s moral depravity. 

It comes from Nigel Farage’s blokey racism, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s faux-patrician sanctimony, Gisela Stuart’s earnest spitefulness, Michael Gove’s oily sophistry. From the decades of screaming tabloid headlines about immigration, and the lachrymose self-pity of suburban curtain-twitchers who ‘aren’t allowed to say what we think’. From the belligerent nationalism of beer-bellied thugs and blue-blazered golf club bores who can’t forget the war they don’t actually remember. From contrarian would-be intellectuals who can’t forgive being ignored by real academics and from free-market think tankers who have none of the knowledge of real business people. From dead-eyed hedge fund managers gloating over profits to be made and cold-eyed neo-Marxist ‘Lexiters’ dreaming of utopias to come.   

Those who complain of the rot are denounced as deranged or dismissed as obsessed. They are told that they must ‘move on’ and ‘get behind Brexit’. Yet, ironically, they are told to do this most loudly by those who equally loudly insist that Brexit has been betrayed.

The rot will only have a chance of being stopped when enough people agree that Brexit has in fact failed to deliver its promises, even if they continue to disagree about why. But, by then, there may not be much left untainted.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Out of the Ruins: Devastated By Russia’s War, Irpin Begins to Rebuild

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 8:02pm in

Though hundreds were killed there, Tommy Walker reports how Ukrainian volunteers and residents are already trying to repair the Kyiv suburb and make sense of what happened

GET THE CURRENT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES NOW

Fifty-five days have passed since Russia’s war in Ukraine began. As the Kremlin renews its offensive in the south and east of the county, Ukrainian cities that have been liberated are beginning to recover from the overwhelming devastation of the conflict.

Irpin, located in the Kyiv Oblast, has suffered some of the most severe destruction since fighting broke out between Russian and Ukraine military forces in late February. The strategically important Battle of Irpin saw Russian forces advance into the area before the Ukrainian military eventually recaptured the city at the end of March.

Now the attention has turned to the rebuilding of Irpin, as Ukrainian residents are already trying to piece the city back together.

Volunteers

Inga, a volunteer from Kyiv, was one of several cleaning up debris in Irpin central park this past week. She saw a request for volunteers in a group on the social media platform Telegram, so she accepted.

“I will try to come to Irpin every day from Kyiv. We have different groups, some people in parks and buildings and other places,” she told Byline Times.

Nearby is Irpin City Polyclinic, a specialist medical centre that has turned into a humanitarian health centre amid the war. With intense fighting in Irpin in March, ninety-per cent of the clinic’s medical professionals left the city in recent months.

Andriy, a surgeon at the clinic, was one of ten doctors who decided to stay.

“I live here and people need my help that’s why I stayed. Since the 9 March, I’ve stayed here. I will also go to Kyiv and here to help people, to provide humanitarian help,” he told Byline Times.

The surgeon added he had been operating surgery as normal admitting he has had to treat many people with wounds that have come from the war. “Civilian people [have needed] amputation because they have [been] shot,” he admitted.

The facility is now providing humanitarian assistance, with medical supplies found in brown boxes piled up on the clinic’s first floor. The director of the clinic, also called Andriy, explained that Irpin citizens are allowed to collect prescriptions and medicines free of charge.

“We give first aid help and we give the pills for free for the people,” he told Byline Times.

A clinic in Irpin offering free first aid and medicine. Photo: Tommy Walker A Crime Scene

Despite the rebuilding, residents in Irpin are struggling to come to terms with the damage the war has caused. Irpin has suffered extreme damage to its infrastructure, with houses and buildings visibly destroyed, while charred tanks and vehicles still remain littered beside the road.

Sergei Numchuk and his wife – both doctors in Kyiv – lost their apartment due to heavy shelling by Russian forces in March. They only had lived in their first home for three years.

“We left flat our flat on 26 February. We went to our parent's home instead of staying here,” Numchuk told Byline Times. Now after visiting their destroyed home after the damage had been done, both of them are unsure how they can live there again.

“We don’t know what we’ll do next in the future, it’s so hard and we don’t know,” he added.

Irpin residents return to inspect the damage to their homes. Photo: Tommy Walker

Although the authorities have begun to assess the damage toll in Irpin, the recovery is going to take some time, according to the political analyst Artem Oliinki. “If we talk about recovery, it will not happen for at least a year or two.  Roughly speaking, now the operation on the patient is underway, and the whole area is more like a huge area of ​​the crime scene,” he told Byline Times.

“As for the infrastructure, they do not have the right to restore it to the pre-war level.  The fact is that there is a danger of resuming the active phase of hostilities, so no one will repair the roads, nor will they build new bridges or dams.  Currently, the military and other services are trying to establish the necessary communication, create temporary bridges, restore roads and more,” Oliinki added.

Before the war, Irpin had a population of around 60,000 but saw an exodus of residents as thousands evacuated to safer places in March. Over 4 million people have fled Ukraine to escape the war according to the UN, with the vast majority of women and children leaving, as men aged 18-60 years have been banned from leaving the country.

Andriy Nebytov, the Chief of Kyiv Regional Police, told Byline Times he hopes the majority of people who have fled the city will return.

“We hope 95 per cent of people will come back because we have a huge amount of support from our volunteers and friends and from foreign countries to rebuild this city. We can see people by themselves are starting to rebuild and repair their houses. We can see the city rebuild and live again,” he said.

The police chief said that hundreds of people have been killed in the Kyiv region. As of last Wednesday, 147 were from Irpin.

“These bodies were killed because of bombing and shooting by the Russian army but we understand it is not the final figure. When the people come back to their houses they will find from the houses and shelters where other bodies can be found,” he added.

In a briefing in March, Irpin Mayor Oleksandr Markushin told local media that up to 300 civilians and 50 servicemen had been killed by the Russian army in Irpin

But despite the grim situation in the country, the Nebytov predicted that once Irpin gets its power supply back, the city could return to some kind of normality again in May.

“The main problem of Irpin right now is energy and light. Our energy companies are going to start making energy through the city in May. I think the end of April, the start of May, the city will live a new life – sure there will be a few ruins but we will try rebuild,” he added.

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar: India Has Concerns About U.S. Human Rights Record

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 3:55am in

Look to India to stay an independent foreign policy course, pursuing its national interests in a multipolar world, instead of joining the U.S. kennel of poodles.

U.S. Natural Gas Prices To Spike As Exports Boom

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 8:43pm in

More discuss of the practical issues arising from the US plan to help fill Europe's Russia gas gap.

United Kingdom government’s intention to offshore asylum processing to Rwanda sends a worrying signal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 1:17am in

The following press release has been issued this afternoon by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, and I think it worth sharing as indication of international reaction to what the UK is proposing with regard to the treatment of those legitimately claiming the right to asylum in the UK:

Strasbourg, 14 April 2022 - “Today’s announcement by the UK government of its intention to offshore asylum processing to Rwanda sends a worrying signal”, said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović. “Not only does such externalisation raise questions about the protection of the human rights of the people involved. It also indicates that the UK intends to shift the responsibility for what is in fact a very small proportion of people seeking protection worldwide from its territory to that of another country. Such a shift in responsibility  runs the risk of seriously undermining the global system of international protection.”

While the government emphasises the importance of safe and legal routes in general, the announced plans do not address the lack of such possibilities for people currently in France, even those who have legitimate claims to move to the UK, for instance on the basis of family links. Expanding such safe and legal routes and putting human rights at the heart of the approach is crucial to addressing the problem of dangerous sea crossings of the Channel and to removing the conditions in which the smuggling of people can flourish.

I call on parliamentarians, in the context of their further examination of the Nationality and Borders Bill, to ensure that no downgrading of the human rights safeguards and protections in the UK’s asylum system takes place. They should in particular reject proposals that enable offshoring and that make distinctions in the level of protection or the procedures applied on the basis of the manner in which people arrive in the UK.

More than ever, all Council of Europe member states should stand firm in their commitment to upholding the human rights of people seeking protection. From this perspective, I will continue my engagement with the UK government on this important matter.”

Ukraine Is Smashed – This Is How It Will Be Repaired

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/04/2022 - 11:55pm in

A look at a plausible Ukraine endgame.

Five Things Ukrainians Want You To Understand Now

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/04/2022 - 10:32pm in

Chris York provides an insight into Ukrainians' perceptions of the war and how they believe it is being misrepresented abroad

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted an unprecedented wave of global sympathy, support and revulsion. A catastrophe is currently unfolding on the world’s TV screens as Vladimir Putin’s armies lay waste to towns and cities across the eastern European country.

Yet frustrations remain among Ukrainians who believe that, despite the rolling news coverage, some things are just not getting through to those watching from abroad.

Here are five of them…

If we close our eyes to Russian war crimes in Ukraine, these pictures will not simply disappear

Yana Vasina, a senior analyst at a large Ukrainian company

The Genocide of Ukraine is Not Just a Fringe Idea

On 3 April, an article appeared on the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti entitled ‘What Russia must do to Ukraine’. It was quickly dubbed a “blueprint for genocide”.

Its author, political columnist and commentator Timofei Sergeitsev, outlined how to “de-nazify” Ukraine through “ideological repression” and “severe censorship”.

“Any organisations related to Nazism must be prohibited and liquidated," he wrote. "However, both the elites and a significant part of the ordinary people are considered passive Nazis and are guilty.

“They supported and followed the Nazi regime. Fair punishment of this part of population can be seen an inevitable burden of waging a just war against the Nazi system, wherever possible as carefully and scrupulously with regard civilians.”

While the article was ostensibly only the musings of one Russian, it was published on the same day that pictures of massacres and the summary execution of Ukrainian civilians began to emerge from Bucha, a Ukrainian town that had until recently been occupied by Russian forces.

Since that day, more and more evidence has emerged of brutal and systematic crimes against Ukrainian civilians.

“This is not just rhetoric,” says Olena Halushka, board member at the Anti-corruption Action Center. “This genocide is what they have done to people of Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpin, Hostomel and other liberated towns.

"They are doing it right now as you read this article to people in Mariupol, and hundreds of other towns and villages that are under Russian occupation now.

“Many volunteers translated this article immediately after its publication in various languages. People are doing this so that the whole world now can see the real face of Russia – a greedy, barbaric, terrorist state.”

This is Not Just ‘Putin’s War’

Since the invasion began in February, there has been a tendency in the West to think of it as “Putin’s war” – the sole decision of one man who has an unshakable and unbreakable grip over normal Russians who simply had no choice but to go along with his brutality.

Yet, as the war has ground on, this view has become more and more untenable.

Polling among Russians shows widespread support for the invasion, citizens openly express their desire to see Ukraine wiped out, and cultural institutions such as the Bolshoi Theatre have begun fundraising for the war effort.

“It is Russian society that created Putin and therefore Russians must share collective responsibility for all atrocities and military crimes that the Russian Army is doing in Ukraine,” says Ukrainian civil rights activist Yaryna Odynak.

“Every Russian soldier who tortured and killed unarmed civilians, shelled and bombarded residential buildings and shelters, raped women and children, robbed and burned houses, forcefully evacuated people to camps in Russia had a choice and they made their own choice, and therefore all of them should be held accountable and punished. 

“Every post and delivery service that registered and delivered looted goods brought from Ukraine to Russia, every Russian wife and mother that opened their doors and drawers to the stolen jewellery, clothes and washing machines from the tortured and brutally killed peaceful Ukrainian civilians made their choice and they are accomplices of this war.”

FEARLESS, INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
& INCREDIBLE VALUE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and support quality, investigative reporting.

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES FOR AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

The Russian Government Lies

It is standard journalistic practice to treat statements from any government with a certain reverence, on the understanding that it is official information with at least a respectful nod to the truth.

When reporting events in Ukraine, Kremlin statements are often included as a matter of due course in an attempt to provide a balanced picture of events amid the inevitable claims and counter-claims.

Yet the Russian Government has repeatedly lied about almost everything in relation to its invasion of Ukraine, from saying that it wouldn’t invade in the first place, claiming that victims of Russian bombs are actors, and even that Ukraine is killing its own civilians to frame Russia.

“Russia will never accept the fact they did something wrong and will never accept that they’re guilty,” says Ukrainian journalist Oksana Piddubna. “So adding some information from the Russian state can of course be part of the story but not in the way that you make people think that they might be saying something true.”

Reporting official Russian statements at face value alongside those of the Ukrainian Government creates room for doubt and the raises the possibility that Russia’s lies and disinformation could actually be true.

“The media talks about balance but it’s like giving two minutes to Jews and two minutes to Hitler,” says Piddubna. “They’re trying to be impartial but it’s impossible to be impartial with something so evil. I understand they’re trying to be balanced but it looks so inhuman and cynical.”

Don’t Look Away

Within hours of the atrocities committed in towns such as Bucha being discovered, social media was flooded with images of the dead.

Revulsion at the crimes committed was also accompanied by revulsion at the images themselves – with some commentators arguing that such pictures weren’t needed, while social media platforms rushed to hide them behind warnings, generally making them more difficult to be seen.

But not looking is a luxury that many Ukrainians don’t have – and don’t think that others should have, either.

“I appreciate this content can be hard to watch,” says Yana Vasina, a senior analyst at a large Ukrainian company, “but was it hard for those people in Bucha to be under siege or occupation for several weeks? Or for those who were tortured, raped and murdered?

"If we close our eyes to Russian war crimes in Ukraine, these pictures will not simply disappear. If we blur these images, they won’t become any nicer and the war will not end. 

“We can’t just ‘cancel’ or ‘unfollow’ this war. The war crimes and cruelties of Russian Army have to be seen, widely discussed, and condemned and punished. Visual content is the most powerful, so why can’t we show this truth?”

There is More Than Just Ukraine at Stake

This article is a new version of a piece Byline Times published a week before the invasion began, and the last point was the same as this.

At this time, Ukrainians were sending calm and measured call for the West to “do their best and without further delay to deter Putin and help Ukraine defend itself” as “it is not an exaggeration to say that the developments of the current Russia crisis will define the future of democracy”.

The events of the past few weeks have added a fresh sense of urgency to these calls, as Ukrainians make them from the bombed-out ruins of their towns, villages and cities.

“Please realise that all political decisions at this moment will be judged not by the voters momentarily, but by history eternally,” says former Ukrainian diplomat Olexander Scherba. 

“After what happened there won’t be any return to 'business as usual'. The global system of international security proved to be utterly useless. Multilateral diplomacy is effectively dead. 

"If you let Putin win, the balance of power between freedom and unfreedom will be tilted fundamentally and globally. So, wake up, world. Not for Ukraine’s sake, but for your own.”

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

America Keeps Eyepoking India and China for Failing to Fall into Line on Russia; Arrogance Looking More and More Like Impotence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/04/2022 - 8:54pm in

America's failed attempts to get India and China in its corner against Russia is looking less like diplomacy and more like a clown car.

Pages