Members of the local Ukrainian community are urging New Zealanders not to forget the war is still ongoing, and that it’s crucial not to buy into Russian propaganda about “territorial concessions for peace”.
Mahi for Ukraine spokeswoman Kate Turska has been liaising with many groups and individuals across local and central government in the lead-up to the war’s second anniversary.
“Local Ukrainians are worried that war fatigue is settling in, support is dwindling and we don’t hear as much about Ukraine in the media,” she said.
“I get asked very frequently if the war still going. Sometimes I’ll say something and someone will say ‘Oh I didn’t realise it was still going’ “.
Kate Turska is the spokeswoman for Mahi for Ukraine.
The organisation is holding an event at Auckland’s Silo Park on February 24 to recognise the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
It will be part of a global rally that will take place in major cities across the world as part of the Ukrainian World Congress.
Turska has also been pushing to get Auckland city landmarks lit up in blue and yellow for the anniversary.
She was successful last year, however, this year, the application to light up the Auckland Harbour Bridge has been denied.
“Vector Lights has not accepted my application due to the high interest they get.”
Last year, she was forced to go through the Prime Minister and Minister of Auckland at the time, who were very supportive and managed to make it happen. “This year I have gone to the Minister of Auckland to try and make it happen again.”
The Sky Tower in central Auckland was lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag in solidarity with Ukraine after the Russian invasion in 2022. Photo / Alex Robertson
Turksa has also been in contact with Immigration Minister Erica Stanford about the progress of the residency pathway for those on the 2022 Special Ukrainian Visa.
In August 2023, the Government announced a residence pathway would be established for those who held a Special Ukraine Visa and arrived in New Zealand before March 15, 2024.
“The community is keen and very excited for it to be announced and are waiting to apply,” she said.
Immigration New Zealand visa director Jock Gilray said as of January 30, 2024, there had been 1851 applications for a Special Ukraine Visa since the category opened.
“Of those received, 1683 have been approved and 55 applications are currently under assessment. The remaining applications have either been declined or withdrawn.”
Turska wanted to remind Kiwis that Putin’s recent interview with former Fox News personality Tucker Carlson was dangerous, calling it “Kremlin propaganda.”
She said such interviews create a false sense of equal value between the victim and the aggressor.
“There are no legal, political, or moral reasons why Ukraine should negotiate while Russia occupies its lands or cede territories. More importantly, even if Ukraine did, not only would it not lead to peace, but in fact, cause the opposite.
“Those advocating ‘for peace’ through negotiations with Russia until it’s removed from all Ukrainian territories, through appeasement, through territorial concession - are advocating for the genocide of Ukrainian people remaining on the occupied territories.
“[It] is essentially letting those who broke into the house stay in one of the rooms with no punishment and security guarantees, it will be only a matter of time before they come back to take control over the entire house.”
United States officials last August estimated the number of Ukrainian and Russian troop deaths and injuries was approaching 500,000, the New York Times reported.
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