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Category: Issue 5 2022

Issue 5/2022: Loss and Division

On how Ukraine’s suffering goes well beyond the front line. The latest issue of New Eastern Europe is now available

October 3, 2022 - New Eastern Europe

Ukraine’s suffering goes beyond the front line

Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, the country has lost people, cities, infrastructure and money at a dizzying speed. Current statistics regarding the state of the country make for grim reading. However, not every loss is measurable.

There is nothing more devastating in life than the loss of a child. It is not only a tragedy for the family, but it also appeals to our deepest evolutionary mechanisms – both to our modern set of values regarding the rights of children and to our eternal drive to survive as a community. As of August 1st, 358 Ukrainian children have been killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion and 693 have been injured. Furthermore, 203 children are still missing, most of them in the combat zones (there have been 4,242 reports to police since February 24th, though most children have been found).

October 3, 2022 - Oksana Forostyna

What the Russian invasion has cost Ukraine

Ukraine has now experienced half a year of war with no end in sight. Despite this, numerous individuals and groups are now attempting to calculate the real cost of the brutal Russian invasion. Whilst the fog of war makes such studies difficult, they will prove pivotal in understanding the true level of suffering in the country.

Withstanding six months of onslaught from one of the world’s most powerful militaries comes at a price – and Ukraine is learning about that cost in real time. Of course, Ukraine has been at war for far longer than just six months. Russia’s capture of Crimea and the eight-year war in Donbas must also be included when looking at the price Ukraine has paid for defending its sovereignty. Ukraine’s losses go far beyond the significant loss of life and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Ukrainians. At its peak, Russia occupied nearly one-fifth of all Ukrainian land, depriving the country of its resources and industry.

October 3, 2022 - Lee Reaney

How Russia’s war estranged us, probably forever

Differences of views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have not only split two nations, but also many families as well. The stories of Sasha and Daniil offer just two examples of how families have been split by toxic propaganda and war, with little chance for reconciliation.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, it brought much more than political and ideological discord. For thousands of Ukrainians, who had family connections in Russia, it was a turning point. The ground of common understanding that had been eroding since the occupation of Crimea and parts of Donbas in 2014, completely cracked in one night, when Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border in an attempt to take Kyiv. What had been thought of as western exaggeration prior to February 24th, became real, and the wall of misunderstanding split many friendships and family connections; some of them forever broken.

October 3, 2022 - Iryna Matviyishyn

Revisiting the original loss: Crimea

The Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea has been occupied for over eight years now. The progressive establishment of Russian control and militarisation over Crimea contains a number of lessons not yet learnt about Moscow’s political strategy in the more recently occupied territories.

Prior to February 24th 2022, Crimea had been an essential part of any discussion on the security situation in and around Ukraine. In August last year, the Ukrainian government launched a new initiative called the “Crimean Platform” to place the de-occupation of Crimea on the agenda of the highest echelons of diplomacy. In fact, Ukraine organised the second summit of the Crimean Platform this summer.

October 3, 2022 - Maksym Popovych

The bees of war

Ukraine’s honey business is one of the largest in the world. Sadly, as a result of the war, dozens of apiaries and beehives are being destroyed every week. In some cases, beekeepers are able to get some financial support from the government, but it is not enough. Yet, the beekeepers remain optimistic. They share everything they have: their honey, knowledge and optimistic spirit.

The honey that you enjoy so much might be one that is produced in the Donbas region. Ukraine’s eastern and southern territories contain rich melliferous plants. Most people who produce this honey had to flee their homes and move to safer regions following the outbreak of the war. Their families might now even be living in your neighbourhood. Some have attempted to save their bees and take them to a new place. This is very difficult, as it is not as easy as transporting a cat. But those beekeepers who were able to stay found themselves at risk, trying to visit beehives despite the constant Russian shelling.

October 3, 2022 - Alisa Koverda

History lost. How Vladimir Putin’s historical conceptions led to the invasion of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin’s 2021 article on Ukraine was primarily dedicated to the notion that Ukraine is historically inseparable from Russia. He at least conceded that a Ukrainian culture and language exists. However, in his February 2022 speech, Putin ignores these ideas completely, using revisionist history to eradicate an entire nation, its language, and culture. According to Putin, the history of Ukraine is now solely the history of Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s historical conceptions, or rather misconceptions, have led to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin is manipulating, altering, rewriting and at times even completely inventing history in order to justify his actions against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

October 3, 2022 - Joshua Kroeker

Why Ukraine needs debt forgiveness

The long months of war have given Ukraine the chance to think about its future reconstruction effort. Despite this, large amounts of debt may ultimately mean that this goal is unobtainable in any meaningful sense. States, international organisations and businesses must now recognise the reality on the ground and work with Ukraine to manage its debt obligations.

On July 20th 2022, Ukraine made a long-expected U-turn and finally asked international creditors to freeze its debt payments for two years. The Ukrainian government argued that it could use financial resources saved this way in the war against Russia. The request was quickly followed by a statement from the Group of Creditors of Ukraine, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Noting the exceptional circumstances and “acknowledging Ukraine’s exemplary track record of honouring debt service to date”, they agreed to provide a coordinated suspension of bilateral debt service until the end of 2023, with the possibility of extending it by an additional year.

October 3, 2022 - Dorota Kolarska Magdalena Milenkovska

The tragedy for Belarus and Ukraine

The dream of Belarusians to end the occupation and build their own democratic nation-state will come true when Europe realises that the values of western civilisation should be prioritised over the interests of different influential groups. If Ukraine can stop the imperial ambitions of Russia, a free and democratic Belarus can shut them down for good.

Milan Kundera’s essay “The Tragedy of Central Europe” had an enormous effect on many European nations fighting for freedom and independence before the end of the Cold War. Here, we refer to those nations that Western Europeans did not consider European enough. When reading the first lines of the essay in 2022, the banal yet proven argument that history is cyclical comes to mind: “In November 1956, the director of the Hungarian News Agency, shortly before his office was flattened by artillery fire, sent a telex to the entire world with a desperate message announcing that the Russian attack against Budapest had begun. The dispatch ended with these words: 'We are going to die for Hungary and for Europe.'"

October 3, 2022 - Pavel Latushka

Can Georgia get back on track?

The European Union’s recent decision to award candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine has left Georgia in a difficult position. Whilst eager to integrate with the bloc, the country still suffers from numerous political issues. Tbilisi must now take full advantage of all the tools available to it in order to not fall further behind.

Since the restoration of independence in 1991, Georgia has increasingly identified itself as part of the European family. Despite this, no real reciprocal steps have been taken by Europe to acknowledge these developments. Georgia has most often been perceived by Europe as part of its geographical periphery, somewhat separate from the continent. Since the formal establishment of the European Union in the early 1990s, Tbilisi’s dream of joining the EU has remained a utopian vision. The country has constantly been referred to as simply a “neighbour” of the EU.

October 3, 2022 - Beka Chedia

Shame and a disintegrated society. The curious case of Russian intelligentsia

Since the outbreak of the war in February 2022, the Kremlin has abandoned any illusions of cultural freedom in Russia. Its cynical mask has been taken off completely and now we can finally see the real and purely aggressive faces of those who wield power in the state. It is clear that Russia’s priority remains maintaining national unity rallied around the flag.

“We were getting ready, but never fully believed in the war,” said Andrii Yermak, the head of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidential administration in an interview with Ukrain-ska Pravda. This conversation took place just days after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. From today’s perspective, which includes our knowledge of the hide-ous atrocities committed by the Russian army against the Ukrainian people in places such as Bucha or Irpin, we can say that Yermak’s confession was an illustration of the huge naiveté of the Ukrainian political elite. This naiveté seems even more striking when it is contrasted with the other side (Russia), where steadfast cynics spoke through propagandists and official spokespersons such as Dmitry Peskov or Maria Zakharova. The Russian side was also get-ting ready. Except, it believed in the outbreak of the war.

September 30, 2022 - Wojciech Siegień

The game of influence in the South Caucasus

While the world remains focused on the war in Ukraine, an important political game is being played in the South Caucasus. The local states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia now find themselves in rather different positions as external powers attempt to jostle for position in this fractious region.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has destabilised not only Europe but also its neighbourhood and inevitably the South Caucasus. This region already has a complicated geopolitical milieu even without any external triggers. Regardless of the outcome, the war will result in a resentful spillover effect in the three countries of the South Caucasus, as they are connected to Russia through trade, remittances and tourism. The economic sanctions, imposed by the West, have enormously affected the rouble, decreasing the remittances sent from Russia by the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Georgian diasporas. Russia is and will be isolated and this will create difficulties for the nationals of the three countries living there.

September 30, 2022 - Tatevik Hovhannisyan

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