No matter their size or importance, countries all over the world are finding ways to stick it to Vladimir Putin following Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine. From harsh economic sanctions to provocative graffiti, nations big and small are making very clear their opposition to Putin – and expressing solidarity with Ukraine in every way they can.
Now the Balkan country of Albania is getting in on the act. On Monday the city council in capital Tirana unanimously approved the renaming of a big part of the street the Russian embassy sits on to Rruga Ukraina e Lirë, or ‘Free Ukraine Street’.
Tirana’s mayor Erion Veliaj said the city wanted to show support for Ukraine and demoralise the embassy’s staff, who ‘will have to work, live and get their mail at a Free Ukraine street address’. The same road also houses the embassies of Ukraine, Serbia and Kosovo.
Sure, this kind of stuff is just gesture politics. Stunts like this are unlikely to actually change Putin’s mind, but they might well get under his skin a bit. It’s a way for even a small country like Albania to express support for the people of Ukraine and condemn Putin’s invasion.
Besides, Albania has also gone further than just gestures. While not in the EU (yet – it’s currently in the application process), the country has implemented sanctions similar to those of the EU, focusing primarily on the Russian finance, energy, transport and technology industries.
Tirana joins several other cities around the world looking to denounce the Russian invasion. Lithuania has made a whole load of anti-Putin gestures, renaming the road of the Russian embassy in Vilnius ‘Ukrainian Heroes Street’, while Riga in Latvia has similarly named the equivalent street ‘Independent Ukraine Street’.
In any case, Albania’s bolshiness is an example to us all, and shows that you don’t have to be an economic or military superpower to stand up to a much larger aggressor.
Want to do your bit to help? Here are 17 ways you can support the people of Ukraine right now.