Australia has lost a strong and important link with Ukraine with the return to the war-torn country by Volodymyr Shalkivskyi, the Ukrainian Embassy’s Chargé d`Affaires in Canberra.
Mr Shalkivskyi has 20 years of diplomatic experience and has worked in the Arms Control Department, Department of Economic Cooperation and the EU and NATO Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
His foreign postings include the Embassy of Ukraine in Sweden and Embassy of Ukraine in the US. Prior to coming to Australia Mr Shalkivskyi was responsible for the implementation of the agreement on the EU-Ukraine Free Trade Area at the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine.
“We wish Volodymyr and his family well; he has left some big shoes to fill,” said Richard McCarthy, an experienced Melbourne-based operational forester who has been working with Mr Shalkivskyi, Dr Gary Bacon in Brisbane and Forestry Australia on an ongoing initiative to support Ukraine foresters, forest scientists and their compatriots during the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
In a communiqué, Mr McCarthy said: “Dear Volodymyr. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you return home to Ukraine. You and your fellow country colleagues continue to amaze us with your bravery and resilience to such terror activities of the Russians against your peace-loving country.
“We have appreciated being able to work with you in these extremely trying times and we will ensure we maintain our efforts to one day enact on the ground the Australian-Ukraine forestry support project.
“Please stay safe and where possible maintain contact.”
Ukraine’s total area of forest plots is 10.4 million ha with commercial forestry concentrated mainly in the Polissya and Ukrainian Carpathians
At a National Press Club address in Canberra last year, Mr Shalkivskyi said he would like Australia to join the fight in countering Russian propaganda … “because they’re still playing those narratives about Ukrainian suppression over Russian population.”
Mr Shalkivskyi says he cannot remain “diplomatically polite” when his parents, aged in their 70s, spend their nights in a bomb shelter in Kyiv.
Russia has suffered more than 115,000 military casualties in Ukraine, according to data provided this week by the Ukrainian military.
General Mark Milley, the most senior military officer in the US Armed Forces, says the Ukraine had suffered more than 100,000 military casualties in the war by that point.
Civilian casualties are approaching 18,000, according to latest figures from the United Nations.
The UN says at least 6886 civilians had been killed and 10,947 injured in Ukraine from the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 up to December 26.
The casualties include 165 deaths and 516 injuries recorded in December, most of which were caused by “the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects.”
Apart from the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creating immense human suffering, it is also damaging global trade, which will likely impact low-income countries the most, the World Trade Organisation is warning.
In its 2022-2023 trade forecast, the WTO says prospects for the global economy have “darkened” since the war started. WTO economists have now downgraded their expectations for 2022 growth of merchandise trade volumes – the import and export of goods – from 4.7% to 3%.