Tuesday. 1/3/2022

The Monocle Minute

BREAKING NEWS / UKRAINE

Latest headlines

• Russian forces have stepped up their assault on Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv as a convoy of military vehicles, thought to be some 60km long, heads toward the capital Kyiv. A large explosion in Kharkiv’s city centre destroyed its municipal government building. These developments come amid growing fear that Russia is moving into a more destructive phase of its invasion.

• Volodymyr Zelensky described the attacks on Kharkiv as state terrorism by Russia. “This evil, armed with rockets, bombs and artillery, must be stopped immediately and destroyed economically,” he said in a video address to the European Parliament. “We must show that humanity is able to protect itself.”

• The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 660,000 Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have fled to neighbouring countries. Some have crossed into Poland and reported waiting up to 60 hours. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says that the conflict could become Europe’s largest refugee crisis in a century.

• The leaders of nine EU countries from eastern Europe called on the rest of the 27-nation bloc to begin membership negotiations with Ukraine. The open letter was released on the same day that President Zelensky signed an official request to the EU to allow Ukraine to join the bloc.

• Switzerland will match the EU’s sanctions against Russia, the country’s foreign minister announced yesterday, parting with a centuries-long tradition of Swiss neutrality. The measures include asset freezes and entry bans on several Russian oligarchs.

To stay up to date on the latest developments in Ukraine and beyond listen to our coverage across Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Marc Wilkins

Help at hand

Two weeks ago I created a Telegram group for fellow expats who wanted to stay in Kyiv; this Telegram group became 380-people strong and we are using it to exchange information about what we need. My wife and I equipped ourselves with a petrol generator, walkie-talkies and food. We weren’t sure an attack would really happen, maybe in the east but not a full-scale attack on Kyiv. Then on Thursday morning my wife woke to the sound of explosions; we understood that a war against Ukraine had started – and we changed our minds. We wanted to get out.

We arrived in Berlin and were welcomed by my sister; she bought food for us and organised an apartment. Berlin is a familiar city for us but we felt out of place. We felt that we needed to help our people; they felt like our people. We knew we couldn’t stay in Berlin; the pain would be too big to stay here and do nothing. So on Sunday we drove back to Poland’s border with Ukraine.

We planned to volunteer to help the refugees who are arriving there. But there’s so much help already organised by the Polish people (pictured); it’s overwhelming. The government created a push notification so that when you arrive in Poland, you receive a message that the Polish government will help you, for free, with everything. We had the feeling that we weren’t even really needed. So now we’re driving back into Ukraine, to Lviv.

Most of the expats I know left the country like I did but now I feel strongly about returning. I cannot be a soldier; I cannot handle a gun but I can help with transportation. I can help with filling bags with sand to create barricades. My wife and I can help by creating a driving service to bring women and children to the border. These are the things I’m going to be doing now.

Marc Wilkins is a Swiss film-maker. He made a short film about the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014 and moved to Kyiv a short while later. Hear more from Wilkins on yesterday’s episodes of ‘The Briefing’ and ‘The Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / UN

Storing the line

Attention turned to New York yesterday for a rare emergency session, led by UN secretary-general António Guterres (pictured), of the 193-member UN general assembly and security council to discuss humanitarian assistance. With the conflict raging, UN agencies, including its refugee council, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have been operating at Ukraine’s border, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have crossed, and in Kyiv and other surrounded cities, distributing aid to the many millions who are unable to leave. “We are here for the crisis regions, that’s why we’re staying in Ukraine,” Chris Melzer, the UNHCR’s senior spokesperson for Germany, told Monocle 24’s ‘The Globalist’. “We have added stocks in our warehouses [in Ukraine] in the last weeks and what we are doing now is distributing core relief items: blankets, sleeping bags, hygiene for women, nappies,” he added. “This is, of course, only a small help – we have 120 people in Ukraine. But whatever we can do, we will.” Relief agencies could use all the help they can get.

Image: Getty Images

Food / Lebanon

Clutching at straws

An often overlooked detail of the deadly Beirut port explosion in August 2020 is that Lebanon’s main grain silo went up in smoke. The country has since only had storage capacity for about a month’s supply of wheat. The cash-strapped Lebanese government has increasingly turned to Ukraine, where wheat is cheaper, for up to 60 per cent of its supply. But shipments have hit a snag since Russia’s invasion.

“Ukraine is on everyone’s tongue,” Justin Salhani, a former reporter at The Daily Star in Lebanon, tells The Monocle Minute. “But I don’t know how widespread the knowledge is that our wheat imports are so vast.” But that awareness could soon change. Lebanon is in talks with the US, Canada and India to secure alternative supplies. Economy minister Amin Salam has told the public not to panic; a major disruption, no matter how unlikely, is the last thing Lebanon needs.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Canada

Ukraine’s cousins

The move by Western governments to sanction Russia’s central bank was reportedly spearheaded by Canada’s finance minister Chrystia Freeland (pictured), who began drumming up support for the plan among her counterparts last week. Freeland, who also serves as Canada’s deputy prime minister and is of Ukrainian descent, has pushed to block Russia’s access to its reserves of foreign currency too – reserves designed to protect Russia’s economy from international sanctions. Canada’s position in the conflict is a particular one, given that it is home to the world’s largest Ukrainian population outside Ukraine and Russia; nearly 1.4 million Canadians claim Ukrainian heritage. “They stole my city; I cannot go back,” one Ukrainian student from Donetsk, who didn’t want to be named for the safety of his family back home, told Monocle at a large rally in Toronto on Sunday. “I haven’t been back to my hometown for eight years because of Russia and now they try to do the same thing for the whole country? We should not let them. The world should help Ukraine. This is the time.”

Hear more voices from Canada’s protests on today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Fashion / Milan

Show must go on

Russia’s attack cast a shadow over Milan Fashion Week, with pro-Ukraine protesters gathering outside some of the city’s busiest show venues, including the Fondazione Prada (pictured). The shows did go on, albeit in muted fashion; Giorgio Armani chose to present his autumn/winter collection without music as an acknowledgment of the unfolding tragedy. And it felt almost prophetic that many big players chose to move away from the post-pandemic narrative of frivolous dressing up. Instead, they evoked a more sombre mood with sharp tailoring, big shoulders and muted colours. Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada presented “glimpses of tradition” by reimagining classic menswear for women. Ukrainian outerwear label Ienki Ienki also made a point to go ahead with its Milan presentation. “Our selling campaign started two days before I found out about the strikes on Ukraine and my native Kyiv,” designer Dmitriy Ievenko tells The Monocle Minute. “But it’s important for us to be here and tell the world what’s happening.”

M24 / The Menu

Marugame Udon

We hear how the world’s largest udon chain is adapting for the European market and meet a master blender to discuss emerging trends in the whisky industry.

Monocle Films / Global

The secret to finding a spring jacket

Bruce Pask, the menswear director at Bergdorf Goodman, is fêted for his unfussy personal style, so much so that the New York department store has given him his own space – B. – in one corner of its shop floor. As the mercury rises we asked Pask to give us the lowdown on picking a quintessential menswear staple: the spring jacket.

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