July 15, 2024

Cultural artifacts stolen from Ukraine during the ongoing Russian invasion were restored to President Volodymyr Zelensky at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., the president’s office reported on Sept. 21.

“After all, every time something returns to Ukraine, something stolen by Russians, it means the return of life and justice, which is very important,” Zelensky said.

The ceremony took place during Zelensky’s working visit to the United States and was attended by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova.

The items were antiques confiscated by U.S. law enforcement agencies after being illegally exported from Ukraine.

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In June 2022, U.S. customs officials confiscated a number of illegally-exported cultural objects, including 17th-century iron axes, two Scythian iron daggers from the sixth century B.C.E., and one iron spearhead dated approximately 500-1200 B.C.E.

Markarova said that Russian forces deliberately targeted Ukrainian history, national identity, and artifacts in the war against Ukraine.

In August 2023, Ukraine’s Culture Ministry reported that at least 763 cultural heritage sites in Ukraine had been damaged by Russian forces. Other ancient items were allegedly looted from occupied Crimea in May 2023.

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