Thursday. 7/4/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Anastacia Galouchka

City of hope

I could fill page after page with a love letter to Kyiv, the city where I worked and lived for the past three years. Two weeks before 24 February, when the invasion began, I was listening to Ukrainian music, walking down the street on my usual grocery run. Fears of war hadn’t quite gripped the city but the threat of an impending invasion was in the air and had started to wear me down. I would feel pangs of doubt about my conviction that there was no chance – really, none – that my country would be subjected to the horrors that are currently unfolding. I left Ukraine on 13 February with a calm heart. When my good friend Serhii dropped me off at Boryspil International Airport, we said jokingly, “See you soon, unless the Russians bomb us all into the ground!”

I returned to Ukraine shortly after the invasion and have travelled much of the country in the weeks since. The next time I saw Kyiv and Serhii was on 26 March. We weren’t laughing any more. Driving back into this fortified, sombre city that was once home to more than seven million Ukrainians, I realised just how foreign it had become to me. Just like us, the city had transformed into something else.

Kyiv’s loud, exuberant friendliness had been replaced by stressed and stern-faced soldiers at checkpoints. Its lively streets had emptied – people were either cowering in their apartments or had fled west, hoping that the sound of explosions wouldn’t follow them. Monuments and buildings were still standing but they lacked beauty without the creativity and soul that once surrounded them.

I was devastated. And yet, driving out of the city again today on my way to Lviv, I noticed something else that gave me hope: cars filled with people as far as the eye could see were on the outskirts of Kyiv, trying to pass the checkpoints to head home. Life, despite everything, will return to this city I love.

Anastacia Galouchka is an expert on foreign policy and international law at the International Centre for Policy Studies in Kyiv.

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / Nato

On the offensive

Foreign ministers of the EU, Nato and G7 meeting in Brussels have agreed a fresh round of sanctions against Russia, even targeting Vladimir Putin’s daughters, following alleged atrocities uncovered in Bucha and other places in Ukraine. Nato is also discussing whether the Western military alliance can step up its support and even shift its focus to supplying offensive – as opposed to defensive – weapons. As fighting in the east escalates, Ukraine seeks to take the fight to Russia and push its forces out of its territory. Meanwhile, the US, UK and Australia announced that they want to boost co-operation on artificial intelligence and develop the kind of hypersonic weapons that Russia has used to devastating effect against Ukraine. This move also comes in response to another potential foe: China, which is developing hypersonic weapons of its own. Fears of a new global arms race increasingly appear well founded.

Image: Getty Images

Society / Shanghai

Lockdown climbdown

As authorities in Shanghai struggle to contain the highly transmissible Omicron variant of coronavirus, the confinement of the city’s 26 million people is every bit as restrictive as China’s earlier lockdowns. But citizens have won a small victory after a wave of online dissent. A policy that separated infected children from their parents has been diluted to allow parents to stay with their children if they are also infected, or if they are guardians of children with special needs.

It is a rare climbdown by Chinese authorities. “It’s a sign of the enormous weariness of the population: in two years, lockdowns have grown no less severe and the policy of separating children has simply produced a massive reaction,” Isabel Hilton, founder of China Dialogue, told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. That doesn’t mean that China has a plan for the way forward. “We could be looking at a much bigger event even than Shanghai,” Hilton added. “If that happens, then there is clearly trouble.”

Image: Chris Strong

Fashion / Italy & USA

From the ground up

Italy’s Prada Group has debuted a new project with Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates: a three-year programme to support creatives of colour. The first cohort of 14 mostly Chicago-based designers come from a variety of disciplines: fashion, architecture, culinary art and dance. Miuccia Prada headlined the selection committee alongside writer and director Ava Duvernay and the late designer Virgil Abloh, a Chicago native. “There has been an evident visibility barrier for designers of colour working across the creative industries,” says Gates (pictured, second from left), who is involved in identifying and mentoring the talent through Dorchester Industries, the design arm of his studio and artist-support programme Rebuild Foundation. The initiative “not only challenges the notion that black talent is hard to identify but also serves as an inescapable answer to it”. Participants will receive financial support and access to networking opportunities. And for Prada? It’s a chance to show their willingness to look beyond the fashion niche and participate in the broader cultural conversation.

Image: The University of Manchester

Culture / UK

North stars

The UK has long taken pride in successfully wielding soft power through the export of its popular culture. That history will soon be enshrined in Manchester at the British Pop Archive, which is expected to launch in May. This week the John Rylands Research Institute and Library announced plans for what it hopes will become a national hub of postwar pop culture; its collection includes the archive of Rob Gretton, manager of Joy Division and New Order. The institution’s location in Manchester is fitting: after all, the northern-English city has produced some of the UK’s most celebrated cultural icons, from The Smiths and The Stone Roses to the Buzzcocks. It’s an important reminder that a country can have multiple cultural capitals and that London doesn’t have a monopoly on rich history and talent.

Image: Karl Davies

Monocle 24 / The Menu

Recipe edition: Alex Hely-Hutchinson

A fresh take on a classic breakfast staple by the founder of London’s 26 Grains restaurants.

Monocle Films / Greece

Athens: urban inspiration

Athenians have a knack for injecting pockets of greenery and a sense of innovation into their ancient city. Their urban interventions are aimed at cooling down this dense metropolis and safeguarding its sacred sights as much as the neighbourhood life. We climb its seven hills to get a fresh perspective on the city’s charms.

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