On October 20th, 14 cultural artifacts, previously stolen by russian invaders from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, were unpacked at the National Preserve “Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra”. An attempt had been made to illegally import them into the territory of the United States.
“One might metaphorically say that a shipment of weaponry has arrived in Ukraine. It includes ancient weaponry dating from the Neolithic period to the Middle Ages. The Ministry has decided to transfer these 14 artifacts to the National Preserve “Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra” for temporary safekeeping, and later, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy will determine their exhibition location”, stated Rostyslav Karandieiev, Acting Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.
The archaeological artifacts were handed over by the American side to the Embassy of Ukraine in the United States. Subsequently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs transported them to Ukraine and transferred them to the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.
“Ukraine is grateful to everyone who has contributed to the return of our values. This achievement is the result of fruitful collaboration between the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, particularly Ambassador Bridget Brink, the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States, represented by Oksana Markarova, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, as well as the National Museum of the History of Ukraine and the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine”, emphasized Rostyslav Karandieiev.
In the conditions of war, Ukrainian cultural heritage is suffering. This pertains not only to architecture but also to a vast number of archaeological sites, especially in the South and East of Ukraine. Many of these locations are being plundered by occupiers during the construction of their fortifications in the temporarily occupied territories.
“These artifacts have an archaeological origin. A crucial aspect is to determine where these items come from. They might be from stolen museum collections, or they could be products of so-called ‘black’ archaeology. Ahead of us lies meticulous work to ascertain the exact origins of these items”, noted Maksym Ostapenko, Acting Director General of the National Preserve “Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra”.
Throughout 2022, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy actively collaborated with the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine to identify archaeological artifacts that were seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. During this time, the American side intercepted more than 20 shipments containing archaeological items, which may have originated from Ukraine and were illegally being imported into the United States.
It should be mentioned that in early March 2023, the U.S. side handed over to Ukraine a late Neolithic-Eneolithic flint axe, two iron swords, and an iron sword from the medieval period. In September 2023, during President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the United States, another series of archaeological items was transferred. A ceremony of returning cultural property