Delano’s Lydia Linna talked about some of the support that Luxembourg has provided to Ukraine during the Top of the Week slot on Ara City Radio on 20 February 2023. Photo: Ara City Radio

Delano’s Lydia Linna talked about some of the support that Luxembourg has provided to Ukraine during the Top of the Week slot on Ara City Radio on 20 February 2023. Photo: Ara City Radio

Friday 24 February 2023 will mark one year since the start of Russia’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Delano’s Lydia Linna and Ara City Radio’s Tom Clarke discussed the aid that Luxembourg has sent to Ukraine, as well as some of the initiatives to support refugees in the grand duchy.

When Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last winter, many expected Kyiv to fall in three days. But Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy remained in the capital, and the country surprised the world with its resilience and commitment to repelling the Russian aggression.

Almost 12 months later, support for Ukraine remains strong. Western tanks are now on their way, and allies continue to deliver weapons and materials to Ukraine--a recent package of weapons will increase the range of Ukraine’s ability to launch attacks. At the Munich Security Conference, held this past weekend, Christopher Cavoli, the top US general in Europe, told a closed-door briefing that providing advanced Western equipment would help Ukraine win the war against Russia, as reported by Politico on 19 February.

War has forced 8m people to flee

More than 8m people have fled Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion last February. Its population in 2021--before the start of the war--was around 44 million. That means almost 20% of the population has left the country. 4.8m have registered for temporary protection in Europe, with over 1.5m registering in Poland, according to data from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in early February. 7,000 had arrived in Luxembourg by the end of 2022.

But the situation since last April has been stable regarding entries and exits between Ukraine and the EU, noted home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, as reported by Politico during the Munich Security Conference. Johansson, who oversees the EU’s migration policy, said that she had been expecting more people to flee Ukraine during the winter, due to Russia’s bombing of electricity and water supply. “This has not materalised. At all,” she said, highlighting the resilience of Ukrainians.

What has Luxembourg done to support Ukraine?

Tom and Lydia also discussed what Luxembourg in particular has done to support Ukraine. Despite being a small country, Luxembourg has done quite a bit. The grand duchy has sent €75m in military aid as of last December--defence minister  (déi Gréng) said that this amounted to 16% of Luxembourg’s 2022 defence budget.

Julien Doussot, the CEO of Telecom Luxembourg International, at the border between Poland and Ukraine in early March. Doussot is also president of the Luxembourg association Slava Ukrayini, which received the European Parliament’s of last year for its support of Ukrainian refugees in Luxembourg.

On the topic of buses, Voyages Emile Weber  last December, which will be used to help children in Ukraine go to school. Eight doesn’t seem like a lot, but Luxembourg was number one when comparing the number of donations to the number of inhabitants.

Luxembourg City also donated 19 generators to the city of Kyiv in January, to help cope with Russian attacks on energy infrastructure.

The LUkraine association organised a campaign to , such as ambulances and firetrucks, and has also collected supplies, money for generators or food kits to be distributed in Ukraine. It has organised language classes in the grand duchy, as well as training to .

A , organised by the Ukraine-Luxembourg Business Club, was held at the end of January. The conference addressed democratic reforms, infrastructure, education, technology, agriculture and more, while money raised through the went to Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska’s foundation, which focuses on education, healthcare and humanitarian needs.

Sanctions and Putin’s gas war

Lydia and Tom talked about some of the sanctions that the EU has imposed on Russia and the EU’s shift away from Russian gas. The European Union used to get a lot of its gas from Russia-- say that the EU got around 50% of its gas from Russia, and 50% from other sources in 2021. Once the full-scale invasion started, the EU shifted to importing gas from countries like the United States, Norway, Algeria, Qatar and Nigeria. In November 2022, the EU was getting nearly 90% of its gas from sources other than Russia.

Because the EU used to be so dependent on Russian gas, Putin tried to use gas as a weapon against the EU to make it drop its sanctions against Russia. But Europe is arriving at the end of winter, and gas storage facilities are still more than half full. Luxembourg, for example, , by 18% in December and by 25% in January.

Upcoming events

Lydia highlighted a few events for the week to come: on 23 February, a on 25 February, and a featuring an international cast of dancers from Ukraine, Luxembourg, France and Argentina on 25, 26 February and 1 March.

Her suggestion for a song was --part of the soundtrack of Blanca, a detective series featuring a blind Italian detective and her guide dog.

Tune in again on Monday 27 February around 8:30am on (87.8 - 102.9 -105.2 FM) or listen to the podcast on Delano.