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‘Things are very, very rarely black and white’: Ukraine volunteer Elliot Kim reflects on serving in Russo-Ukrainian War

  • Ukraine volunteer Elliot Kim sat down with NextShark to share his experiences in the Russo-Ukrainian war zone, including what he did beforehand to prepare, how he got into the country and what he saw once he landed.
  • Kim participated in Ukraine as a soldier in an international volunteer legion from the end of April to mid-June. After his time volunteering, he returned home to Atlanta.
  • Similar to many other U.S. volunteers, Kim also had a military background, having joined the army right out of high school in 2005.
  • When faced with the opportunity to fight in Ukraine, it had been 11 years since he left the army. There was a lot of uncertainty, Kim admits, as to whether he could make a difference in Ukraine.
  • “There's just this feeling amongst a lot of civilians that the world may have forgotten or is okay with what’s going on over there,” says Kim.

Ukraine volunteer Elliot Kim sat down with NextShark to share his experiences in the Russo-Ukrainian war zone, including what he did beforehand to prepare, how he got into the country and what he saw once he landed.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 left the rest of the world scrambling to deal with the repercussions. 

Ukraine’s first lady wears elegant kimono-inspired jacket in interview with Japanese television

  • First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska chose to wear an elegant, sky blue kimono-inspired jacket in an interview with Japan’s national television and radio company NHK.
  • The wool pantsuit came from the fall-winter 2022 collection of Ukrainian brand Bobkova, a collection that was reportedly inspired by Serbian artist Marina Abramović.
  • Zelenska covered a wide range of topics during her interview with NHK, including the devastation of war in her country, her many meetings with world leaders such as U.S. President Joe Biden, her family and the tragic death of a 4-year-old girl named Liza to a missile attack.
  • Zelenska has been in the spotlight since the Russo-Ukrainian conflict began, with the first lady acting quickly to rally up global support for Ukraine’s stand against Russia.

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska chose to wear an elegant, sky blue kimono-inspired jacket in an interview with Japan’s national television and radio company NHK. 

The wool pantsuit came from the fall-winter 2022 collection of Ukrainian brand Bobkova, a collection that was reportedly inspired by Serbian artist Marina Abramović

Zelenskyy urges opportunity to speak with Xi because China has power to stop Russian invasion

  • Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 44, has continued to seek out an opportunity to speak “directly” with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • Zelenskyy argued that China has the political and economic influence necessary to “put the Russian Federation [in] a certain place.”
  • While China has sought to maintain a “balanced” attitude toward the war, Zelenskyy argued that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked.
  • According to an Aug. 1 record by the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 5,327 people have been killed and 7,257 have been injured since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
  • Chinese state media previously reported that Beijing is “doing its best” by “making unremitting efforts to defuse tensions and working actively to promote dialogue.”

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 44, has continued to seek out an opportunity to speak “directly” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, arguing that China has the political and economic influence necessary to “put the Russian Federation [in] a certain place.”

In an exclusive 40-minute interview with South China Morning Post, the Ukraine leader urged the world’s second largest economy to use its influence over Russia as well as in the United Nations Security Council to bring its current conflict to an end. 

Ken Rhee, facing prosecution for going to Ukraine to fight: It would be ‘a crime not to help’

  • Former South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber Ken Rhee claims he has no regrets fighting in Ukraine and says it would have been a “crime” not to use his military experience to help.
  • In an interview with AFP, Rhee compared his decision to saving a drowning person to illustrate why he felt it was his moral duty to serve despite South Korea’s travel ban on Ukraine.
  • "You're walking down the beach and you see a sign by the water saying 'no swimming' -- but you see someone drowning. It's a crime not to help. That's how I see it," the 38-year-old serviceman said.
  • Rhee initially announced on March 6 that he and his hand-selected team of special forces had “informally” left South Korea for Ukraine.
  • Rhee was aware that he could return home to prison time and a fine of 10 million won ($8,115) for entering a travel-banned country, but says he was ready to face the consequences and openly criticized the South Korean government for withholding support.

South Korean ex-Navy SEAL-turned YouTuber Ken Rhee claims he has no regrets fighting in Ukraine and says it would have been a “crime” not to use his military experience to help.

In an interview with AFP, Rhee compared fighting in Ukraine to saving a drowning person to illustrate why he felt it was his moral duty to serve despite the fact that the South Korean government had made it illegal to travel to Ukraine.

US Marine veteran Grady Kurpasi is third American to go missing in Ukraine this week

  • Former U.S. Marine Corps officer Grady Kurpasi, 49, who has not been heard from since April 23, is the third American to be reported missing in Ukraine this week.
  • Kurpasi arrived in Ukraine on March 7 after deciding to volunteer as a soldier in the Ukrainian war. Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years, before retiring in November 2021, he felt that his skillset would be valuable to the cause.
  • The other two American soldiers to be reported missing include Andy Huynh, 27, and Alexander Drueke, 39, both from Alabama and both of whom have military experience.
  • Videos of Huynh and Drueke surfaced on Friday on RT, a Russian state-controlled international television network, showing they had been captured by Russian forces.
  • When asked to comment about the captures of American soldier volunteers, Biden reiterated on Friday, “I’ll say it again, Americans should not be going to Ukraine.”

Former U.S. Marine Corps officer Grady Kurpasi, who has not been heard from since April 23, is the third American to be reported missing in Ukraine this week.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price announced during a press conference on Thursday that a third American had gone missing, although the name was not said.

Ukraine removes Emperor Hirohito from Hitler, Mussolini video after anger and protests from Japan

ukraine twitter changes
  • Amid protests from Japan, Ukraine has removed an image of former Japanese leader Emperor Hirohito from a video uploaded online that showed him next to fellow World War II Axis leaders Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
  • The video, posted on Twitter by the Ukrainian government on April 1, showed the three leaders above a caption that read, “Fascism and Nazism were defeated in 1945.”
  • This sparked severe backlash from Japan, including comments from Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki, who said, “Portraying Hitler, Mussolini and Emperor Showa [Hirohito] in the same context is completely inappropriate.”
  • Some Japanese netizens on social media called for Japan to stop supporting Ukraine, while others commented that Japanese wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo would have been a better choice for the video.
  • The Ukrainian government, following Japan’s protests of the image, removed the picture of Hirohito from the video and expressed their regret to Japan.
  • “Our sincere apologies to Japan for making this mistake,” the Ukrainian government said in a tweet on Sunday. “We had no intention to offend the friendly people of Japan.”
  • Japan has supported Ukraine in their ongoing conflict with Russia, donating $300 million as well as accepting hundreds of displaced Ukrainians since the Russian invasion began in late February.

Amid protests from Japan, Ukraine has removed an image of former Japanese leader Emperor Hirohito from a video it posted online showing him next to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

The video, uploaded to Twitter by the Ukrainian government on April 1, showed the three World War II Axis leaders above a caption that read, “Fascism and Nazism were defeated in 1945.” This sparked severe backlash from Japan, including comments from Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki, who said, “Portraying Hitler, Mussolini and Emperor Showa [Hirohito] in the same context is completely inappropriate.” He called the depiction “extremely regrettable.”

YouTube suspends channel of Chinese vlogger who posts about his life in war-torn Ukraine

Wang Jixian Youtube Ukraine
  • Wang Jixian, a 36-year-old Chinese programmer living in the Ukrainian city of Odesa, is known for posting videos of himself openly criticizing Russia.
  • He said that YouTube suspended his account for a week in March after one of his videos supposedly violated its policy against violent content.
  • The Beijing native, who has become an unofficial voice of Chinese resistance against Russia’s actions, blames the “ulterior motives” of the person who reported him to YouTube.
  • Prior to the suspension, Wang purportedly received messages and comments that discouraged him from provoking the Chinese government and being “too aggressive” with his words.
  • For now, Wang posts videos on his Twitter account and his other YouTube channel. Meanwhile, all of his Chinese social media accounts have been shut down.

YouTube has reportedly suspended a Chinese vlogger from posting videos of his daily life in war-torn Ukraine over a violation in content policy.

Wang Jixian, a 36-year-old programmer living in the city of Odesa, has openly criticized Russia in his videos, while his native Beijing reportedly supports Moscow behind closed doors.

Russia wants to split Ukraine like North and South Korea, intelligence chief says

PUTIN_KOREAS
  • After failing to seize Kiev and overthrow Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government, Russia is now aiming to split Ukraine like North and South Korea, according to Ukraine’s military intelligence chief.
  • Korea split into North and South after World War II as tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. began to escalate, with both superpowers drawing a boundary and backing alleged puppet governments on each side.
  • Russia also announced that it will focus on “liberating” the separatist-backed region of Donbas, a strategy shift which observers say reflects Putin’s acknowledgment of his failure to invade Ukraine.
  • Zelenskyy has urged Western nations to send Ukraine more weapons, saying his country needs just “one percent” of NATO’s aircraft and tanks.

Russia is now attempting to split Ukraine the way the Koreas parted after World War II, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief said on Sunday.

Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, who predicted Moscow’s invasion last November, believes President Vladimir Putin had revised his plan of a full occupation after failing to capture Kiev and oust the administration of Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

China accuses Taiwan for ‘taking advantage’ of Ukraine crisis by giving financial aid to its refugees

  • China criticized Taiwan on Wednesday for sending aid to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia, saying the island was “taking advantage of others’ difficulties.”
  • The allegation came after Taiwan announced an $11.5 million donation for displaced Ukrainians on Tuesday, following an initial donation of $3.5 million and salary pledges from top government officials.
  • China also said Taiwan “only has itself to blame” if it gets sanctioned by Russia. Last week, Russia added Taiwan to its list of “unfriendly” countries and territories.

China has accused Taiwan of using Ukraine for its own political advantage as the self-governed island delivers a new round of aid for refugees this week.

After an initial donation of $3.5 million, Taiwan is sending another $11.5 million to help displaced Ukrainians, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Tuesday. Earlier this month, President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang each pledged a month’s salary to donate to Ukrainian refugees.

GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn calls Zelensky a ‘thug,’ Ukrainian government ‘incredibly evil’

Madison Cawthorn Ukraine
  • Republican members Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pushed back on Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) for calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”
  • “Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug," Cawthorn was heard saying in a video while speaking to his supporters. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies."
  • “I do not understand how anyone in American public office could call Zelensky a 'thug' while Ukraine is under such vicious assault," Michele Woodhouse (R-N.C.), who is running against Cawthorn in the state, said.
  • Cawthorn walked back on his statement in a tweet Thursday by saying, “The actions of Putin and Russia are disgusting.”
  • The 26-year-old politician drew controversy in October 2021 for his vow to seize “every Chinese asset in the United States” once the GOP returned to power.

Republican members have pushed back against Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) for calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” and the Ukrainian government “incredibly evil” amid the Russian invasion.

Cawthorn reportedly made the comments while speaking to supporters last weekend, according to a video posted by WRAL.

Report: China’s state-run outlets promote ‘pro-Russian’ narrative of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Chinesestatemedia
  • Chinese state-run media outlets are reportedly promoting pro-Russian talking points in their domestic coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • A recent analysis by CNN alleged that Weibo posts by outlets such as CCTV, the People’s Daily and Xinhua go against the neutral position the Chinese government has been portraying.
  • Nearly half of the over 300 most-shared Ukraine-related posts during the first eight days of Russia's invasion were reportedly found to be “distinctly pro-Russian.”
  • Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned international news channel CGTN has seemingly been promoting pro-Russian talking points via Facebook advertisements that target global users.

A recent analysis conducted by CNN alleged that nearly half of the over 300 most-shared Ukraine-related social media posts by Chinese state-run media outlets were “distinctly pro-Russian.”

The analysis looked into 14 major outlets’ Weibo posts from the first eight days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Details in the posts that were not directly lifted from Russia’s own state media were attributed to Russian authorities. 

Korean Ukrainian actor Pasha Lee, 33, dies from Russian shelling after joining war defense

Pasha Lee
  • Actor-turned-soldier Pasha Lee was killed from a shelling attack by Russian forces in Ukraine’s city of Irpin on Sunday.
  • Lee, who worked as an actor, singer, TV host and composer, joined the Ukrainian army after Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24.
  • Colleagues and fans have taken to social media to mourn Lee’s death.

Pasha Lee, a 33-year-old Ukrainian actor of Korean descent, died on Sunday while defending his home country.

Lee joined the army after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. He was killed from a shelling attack by Russian forces in Ukraine’s city of Irpin.