Thursday. 3/3/2022

The Monocle Minute

Breaking news / Ukraine

Latest headlines

• Major explosions have been heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, while Kherson has become the first major city to fall under Russian control. Troops entered the southern city overnight, according to the city’s mayor, Igor Kolykhaev. Intense fighting has also been reported in Mariupol, a key port city in Ukraine’s southeast.

• Ukrainian officials will arrive on the Polish-Belarusian border today for a second round of peace talks, Russian officials have said. The first round of negotiations ended without a breakthrough.

• A war-crimes investigation has been opened by the International Criminal Court into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, after 38 countries backed the move. It is the largest number of referrals in the history of the ICC.

• Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from the Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing, in a U-turn from the International Paralympic Committee. The IPC had come under fire less than 24 hours earlier for saying that Russian and Belarusian athletes could compete under the Paralympic flag.

• Former Soviet states Moldova and Georgia are expected to submit applications for EU membership before the end of the week. Ukraine formally applied for membership this week, requesting immediate admission to the bloc.

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

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Annabelle Chapman

Neighbourhood watch

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, Poland has found itself in the middle of a standoff between Moscow and the West. As Ukraine’s largest neighbour in the EU and with a border more than 500km long, Poland is seeing a flurry of movement in both directions.

More than a million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since the start of the invasion, according to the UN’s refugee agency – and slightly more than half of them to Poland. In contrast to its hostility to those coming from the Middle East and Africa, Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice government has welcomed Ukrainians. They can enter without any formalities and Ukrainians living in Poland – of whom there are more than a million – “do not have to worry about the legality of their further stay” according to the government. Communities and individuals across Poland have also stepped up to help, offering lifts from the border (pictured), accommodation and help finding work.

As refugees flee west into Poland, military reinforcements are flowing in the opposite direction: Ukrainian men who had been working abroad are returning to Ukraine to fight and bringing with them Western supplies for the war effort. On 27 February, the EU approved a budget of €450m for weapons and equipment for Ukraine, with Poland to serve as a logistics hub for deliveries. This could come with a high cost: Russia’s foreign ministry responded that those supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine will bear responsibility if they are used during Russia’s military campaign.

Understandably, Poles are spooked: a recent poll found that 78 per cent of respondents feel “fear” in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Their top concern is the potential for a “direct violation of Poland’s security and borders”. And yet, as in Ukraine, this fear is mobilising rather than paralysing the Polish people: in addition to the wave of support for refugees, the number of applications to join the army has surged since last week.

Chapman is Monocle’s Warsaw correspondent.

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / Taiwan

Conflict by proxy

For Japan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not a distant conflict but rather a potential precursor to what might happen between China and Taiwan. The question is how China, which threw its weight behind a ceasefire in Ukraine on Tuesday, might study the behaviour of Nato and the international community to assess the pros and cons of potentially taking Taiwan. While Japan’s pacifist constitution wouldn’t allow it to intervene militarily on Taiwan itself, Tokyo is responding to an escalating Chinese presence in the region this year by deploying surface-to-air and surface-to-ship missile units and more than 500 troops on Ishigaki Island, which is less than 300km away from Taipei. Joe Biden also sent a delegation (pictured) to Taiwan on Tuesday evening in a show of support. Over the weekend, Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe called on the US to end its “strategic ambiguity” on the issue of defending Taiwan. “If Taiwan has a problem, then Japan also has a problem,” he said.

Image: Volodymyr Petrov

Media / Ukraine

Voicing concerns

When European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen spoke to the European Parliament on Tuesday, she began her speech by citing a media source that many wouldn’t have heard of just two weeks ago. Von der Leyen quoted an editorial in Ukrainian newspaper the Kyiv Independent, which was published hours before the invasion began: “This is not just about Ukraine. It is a clash of two worlds, two polar sets of values.”

The English-language publication is just four months old – it was launched by journalists who had been fired from the Kyiv Post – but its website and dogged reporters have become a key source of independent information on the war. “[The speech was] the moment we realised that we are the main voice of Ukraine now for the world,” Daryna Shevchenko, CEO of the Kyiv Independent, tells Monocle. “It’s a huge responsibility. We try to be very careful about what we post.”

Hear more from Shevchenko on the latest edition of ‘The Daily’ and a forthcoming episode of ‘The Stack’ on Saturday.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Latin America

Breaking bread

Leaders of most Latin American nations, including Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Chile, were quick to condemn the war in Ukraine. And while the region’s largest countries, Mexico and Brazil, held back initially, their positions have shifted too. Brazil, whose leader, Jair Bolsonaro (pictured), met with Vladimir Putin shortly before the war started, announced that it will issue visas to Ukrainian refugees. And Mexico, whose president had meekly called for dialogue in the beginning, stepped up its rhetoric when minister of foreign affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, urged respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Exceptions to the rule are long-time Moscow allies Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, which predictably focused their criticism on Nato; Russia last month even threatened military deployments to Cuba and Venezuela. Whatever their views on the war, the region is also keeping a watch on knock-on effects, such as rising food prices, stemming from Ukraine’s role as a major wheat supplier.

Image: Getty Images

Sports / Russia

Balls and whistles

In 2018 Russian president Vladimir Putin cracked a rare smile as he touched the football used in the World Cup at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. After all, a top football tournament on Russian soil is the rarest of things and something that had eluded his Soviet forbearers. But following Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, all that has changed. Events including the Champions League final have been moved out of Russia and its national teams stand to be kicked out of multiple sports competitions; even Russia’s hugely successful ice hockey team has been left with no one to play against. “In the long run, these cultural sporting boycotts and sanctions are some of the most effective; it worked with South Africa’s all-white cricket and rugby teams during apartheid,” Oliver Bullough, author of Butler to the World and Moneyland, told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “It’s going to be hard and contentious, but it’s important to hold that line.”

Image: Palkó György/Liget Budapest

M24 / Monocle On Design

A trip to the museum

Members of the Monocle On Design team take field trips to the Met in New York, Rome’s Maxxi museum and the recently opened, Sou Fujimoto-designed House of Music in Budapest.

Film / Global

Designing the news

How do you unpack stories in the most engaging way while building a credible and comprehensive brand? Monocle Films showcases best design for paper and screen too.

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