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Time to look into the mirror

The argument that NATO provoked Russia is an obvious example of Moscow’s narrative being regurgitated in mainstream western media. The truth is, however,

April 25, 2022 - New Eastern Europe

War diaries from Kyiv

Since the start of the war, journalist Andrey Kirillov found himself in Kyiv. He began documenting his daily experiences through his war diaries. We publish

April 25, 2022 - Andrey Kirillov

#UkraineUnderFire: A war diary

Imke Hansen is an international peace worker at the Sievierodonetsk field office of the Ukrainian NGO Vostok SOS. Together with her colleague Maksim, she has

April 25, 2022 - Imke Hansen

New habits of wartime: A view from the rear

It has been scientifically proven that 21 days are needed to form and strengthen a new habit. Unfortunately, Russia’s war against Ukraine has been going on

April 25, 2022 - Maria Protsiuk

Putin’s biggest mistake

I left behind the city I was born in, where I learnt to ride a bike and ice skate, where I finished school and where I had my first kiss. There, I also left

April 25, 2022 - Zoriana Varenia

The news of the invasion was like a bomb

A conversation with Pedro Caldeira Rodrigues, Portuguese journalist. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

IWONA REICHARDT: You went to Kyiv to do

April 25, 2022 - Iwona Reichardt Pedro Caldeira Rodrigues

Waiting for Fortinbras

A conversation with Oksana Zabuzhko, a Ukrainian writer and intellectual. Interviewer: Adam Balcer

ADAM BALCER: We are speaking in Warsaw

April 25, 2022 - Adam Balcer Oksana Zabuzhko

Ukrainian territorial defence: how regular city dwellers will vanquish the fierce Russian bear

A conversation with Roman and Iryna, officers of the territorial defence in Kyiv. Interviewer: Andrii Horobchuk

Territorial defence units

April 25, 2022 - Andrii Horobchuk

The soft power of Ukrainian women will defeat Mordor

A conversation with Iryna, a territorial defence officer, and Natalya, a civil volunteer. Interviewer: Andrii Horobchuk

ANDRII HOROBCHUK:

April 25, 2022 - Andrii Horobchuk

Putin’s fascism

Russia’s political system, officially known as “sovereign democracy” (suverennaia demokratiia), is nothing but a dictatorship along the lines of Lenin and Stalin’s democratic centralism. After all, the main goal is to re-establish a new Russian empire with Putin on the throne. Imperialism is this “new-old” ideology’s proper name.

During the past decade, the term “fascism” has become ubiquitous in Russia’s public discourse. The more that freedom of expression and freedom of the press have been curbed, the more the word “Nazism” has appeared in the country. The preferred form of both terms is that of a slur, namely “fascists” (fashisty) and “Nazis” (natsisty). In the West, this phenomenon has been largely disregarded as a peculiarity of the political language in present-day Russia. Arguably, it appeared to be nothing more than a rhetorical flourish. On February 24th, however, in a totally unprovoked move, the Russian president ordered his armies to invade peaceful Ukraine officially to “denazify” the country. A day later, he gave a bizarre speech in which he denigrated the Ukrainian government as a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”.

April 25, 2022 - Tomasz Kamusella

The devastating long-term effects of sanctions against Russia

Vladimir Putin and his criminal war in Ukraine have returned the Russian economy back to the dark days of the early 1990s, with spiralling inflation, winding queues in front of banks and shops, stringent financial controls and a new wave of skilled Russian emigrants flowing out of the country. This crisis is only likely to get worse as Russia turns into a pariah state unpalatable for the world’s most technologically-advanced nations and enterprises.

As Vladimir Putin launched his brutal invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, a US-led coalition of like-minded governments launched their own economic barrage of sanctions against the Russian state, its largest companies and some of its most prominent individuals. The sanctions have focused on crippling Russia’s finances and its ability to pay for the war in Ukraine, as well as severing its military-industrial complex from strategic components. They have put a prohibitive lock on key Russian economic sectors like high-tech, energy and tradeables.

April 25, 2022 - Kiril Kossev

Why Russia has very little to offer

Driven by an imperial vision, Russia has always thought of itself as the centre of an empire. After all, it has often ruled over a huge multinational territory and was always militarily stronger than the people who inhabited its sphere of influence. The golden rule for any state holding an imperial vision of inter-state relations is to present itself as the “saviour” of others, and Russia is no exception.

To understand alliances and partnerships, as well as rivalries and conflicts between countries, we often refer to geopolitics and its rules. Attention to the geographical, historical, demographic and economic factors that influence relations between states must not, however, let us forget about the people on the ground. Any alliance or partnership of countries within a sphere of influence should be based on mutual gains for all human beings. Otherwise, it is logical, as well as legitimate, for people to try to circumvent and override the rules of geopolitics. This is exactly what is happening in Russia's European neighbourhood.

April 25, 2022 - Tatevik Hovhannisyan Tiziano Marino

Russia’s targets: children, pregnant women, civil institutions and infrastructure

Not a day goes by without a war crime being deliberately committed by Russia in Ukraine. Documenting these crimes is a huge task that cannot be done by just one organisation. What is needed here is an alliance of various organisations, media groups and volunteers, both abroad and on the ground. They need to document Russian atrocities, sort them, process them for the media and forward them to the authorities for sanctions and prosecution.

No crime is too big for Vladimir Putin to commit, no lie too absurd to utter. This was true even before Russia's troops officially invaded Ukraine on February 24th. The images from Ukraine bring back memories of Grozny in Chechnya and Aleppo in Syria. There, Russian planes also destroyed homes, clinics, schools and other civilian facilities through mass bombardments. The West remained silent when the Russian army was rampaging through Chechnya and Syria. The West apparently did not care about the people there and they did not want a confrontation with Putin. In particular, the war against Syrian civilians was a test for the Russian army.

April 25, 2022 - Jan-Henrik Wiebe

Bearing witness. Despite repressions and state propaganda, the anti-war movement in Russia continues

As the war in Ukraine continues, questions have been asked as to the internal situation in Russia. Whilst the country’s burgeoning anti-war movement may not live up to outside expectations, its attempts to work around the Kremlin’s restrictions are inspiring new and unique forms of protest.

International critics often view the Russian domestic anti-war movement as helpless and doomed to fail. This might seem true as it does not comply with the West and Ukraine’s main expectation that it will start large-scale street protests capable of overthrowing Vladimir Putin’s regime. What often escapes the world’s attention is that there are no such opportunities for the Russian anti-war movement in the country’s political structure. It must first evolve in more sophisticated, symbolic ways to reach a point of numerical strength over time.

April 25, 2022 - Anna Efimova

Learning “history” with Putin

On February 21st, ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin delivered a state-wide history lesson on national television. Since then, the country’s youth has become a key target group for state propaganda. School education has often been considered an effective vehicle for perpetuating and disseminating Russian state propaganda among these young impressionable minds.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th with Putin’s announcement of a “special military operation”. His announcement followed a speech he made on February 21st, in which he outlined his justifications for the recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’ independence. He took his audience on a bizarre “history lesson”, first outlining the country’s founding, when Russia was more commonly associated with Kyivan Rus’ (yet Putin often omits the “Kyivan” aspect).

April 25, 2022 - Allyson Edwards

Bulba in a pickle: Belarus and the war in Ukraine

Stuck in the middle of a war, Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka has tried to save himself by using his old tricks. He officially supports the Russian invasion and claims that Moscow was provoked by NATO. At the same time, he is trying to demonstrate that he still has some sovereignty at his disposal.

Bulba, potato in Belarusian, is an important vegetable in Belarus. The country is well known for its production and various dishes (including draniki, potato pancakes) that go well with Bulbash vodka. Belarusians are known as bulbashy in the Russian-speaking world. Although, for a long time, it was a name that was considered offensive, in recent years it has been adopted by the younger generation who wear it with ironic pride. Today, one of the most famous bulbash, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, is facing probably the most challenging situation in his long political career. The

April 25, 2022 - Kacper Wańczyk

Poland as a new frontline state

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine not only wreaked havoc on Ukrainian society but also damaged the regional security architecture of Central and Eastern Europe. For Poland and other states on the Eastern Flank of NATO, it instantly meant that they had all become de facto frontline states.

February 24th marked the end of the world order as we know it when Russian tanks rolled into Ukrainian territory and Russian missiles started to target Ukrainian civilian and military infrastructure. It is by no means an exaggeration to claim that the international security architecture that was shaped after the Second World War is now gone. From the regional perspective, the first day of the Russian aggression changed everything for both Ukraine and its neighbours. Many of these states have been pondering whether they would be next on Putin's list.

April 25, 2022 - Wojciech Michnik

The more things change… Britain, Russia and the war in Ukraine

The Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine has upended its bilateral links with countries around the world. This is no clearer than in the United Kingdom, which has forged a rather contradictory relationship with Russia over the past few decades. British politicians are now faced with pursuing a clean break with this peculiar status quo in response to today’s exceptional circumstances.

It has not been an easy winter for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Whether it is overlooking a friend’s paid lobbying or lockdown parties at Downing Street, the British leader has often found himself in the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons. This uncertain domestic situation has had a drastic effect on the fortunes of his own Conservative Party, with recent by-election results often turning in favour of opposition parties. Polls now show steady support for the Labour Party for the first time since Johnson’s landslide election victory in late 2019. Nevertheless, the famously resilient Boris continues to hold on to his job.

April 25, 2022 - Niall Gray

Relations with Russia will never be the same again

No one knows when or how Russia’s second invasion of Ukraine will end. But when the conflict ends, a rebuilding phase will be required. During this period, US and western leaders would be wise to tread lightly as they try to establish a new relationship with Russia.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a new era was born. Fifteen countries emerged from the disbanded union and the West assumed that they would naturally gravitate towards democracy and capitalist economies. As a result, the West welcomed these new countries to join its institutions. One of these countries was Russia.

April 25, 2022 - Mark Temnycky

Mission impossible? EU membership for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova during wartime

Whilst Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova’s applications for EU membership were submitted before they were really ready, the Russian military assault on Ukraine has put the EU in a very delicate situation. Nevertheless, the EU has given the green light to start evaluating the eligibility of the three associated states for candidate status.

Never before have Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova's European prospects been as bright as they are now. All three partner countries in the Eastern Partnership region have already submitted applications to join the European Union. However, the trigger for this move was not the success of internal reforms or the fulfilment of other political and economic milestones (also known as the Copenhagen Criteria).

April 25, 2022 - Denis Cenusa

Hardship on the horizon: Armenia amid sanctions against Russia

Armenian economists, entrepreneurs and private business owners are warning about hardships that have arisen due to sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The risks and consequences for Armenia’s economy are severe.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has gone beyond the borders of the conflict between the two states and has knocked on the doors of all countries, targeting their economies first. The invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops led to a global economic backlash against Russia in the form of additional economic sanctions. These complement the package of sanctions initiated in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine. These restrictions are still valid and have already had significant negative impacts on the Russian economy.

April 25, 2022 - Anna Vardanyan

Russia’s war in Ukraine: perspectives from the South Caucasus

The war in Ukraine has also opened long-standing geopolitical wounds in the three states of the South Caucasus, which now find themselves on the frontline of the new Cold War. The modest reactions of Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine underline the precarious states the three countries find themselves in.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has geopolitical implications for Europe and beyond. This includes the three South Caucasus countries, all of which are members of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership initiative. Yet, governmental and societal reactions have varied in all three countries, with the Georgian government being cornered into a strategy of “non-deterrence”, the Armenian government subordinate to Russia’s security interests, and the Azerbaijani government pursuing its balancing policy while also seeking a strategic partnership with Moscow.

April 25, 2022 - Bidzina Lebanidze Irena Gonashvili Veronika Pfeilschifter

More volunteers than refugees: how Romanians mobilised for Ukrainians

Thousands of Ukrainian refugees enter Romania daily through the border crossings and are met by an army of volunteers. Yet, there is no central command running these humanitarian operations. They are, for the most part, happening spontaneously, with officials, refugees and volunteers finding the best solution for each case through word of mouth or on social media. Not having a plan seems to be the best plan so far.

Since Russian tanks started rolling into Ukraine on February 24th, nearly half a million Ukrainian women, children and elderly people have crossed the border into neighbouring Romania. They have arrived either directly from their country or through Moldova. Although a far cry from the more than two million that already made it from Ukraine to Poland, this influx of refugees poses a great challenge to a country that is not exactly known for its robust social services or the organisational capacity of its administration. But, at least until now, things have gone much smoother than most would have thought.

April 25, 2022 - Marcel Gascón Barberá

Why Russians still regret the Soviet collapse

In 2019, a Levada Centre poll revealed that 66 per cent of Russians regretted the collapse of the Soviet Union while just a quarter did not. This represented an increase of 11 per cent in ten years. In the same time, Russia’s economy shrank by 23.2 per cent. The most stated, and consistent, reason for regret was the “destruction of a unified economic system”.

On December 25th 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev admitted defeat live on Russian television. The red flag came down from the Kremlin after more than 70 years. Thirty years later, Muscovites found themselves voting in a referendum on whether to restore Felix Dzerzhinsky’s statue to Lubyanka Square (headquarters of the FSB, formerly the KGB). Its toppling symbolised the rejection of Soviet socialism and a repudiation of the October 1917 revolution, which few initially believed in. Yet since 1991, a clear majority of Russians have consistently regretted the USSR’s collapse.

April 25, 2022 - James C. Pearce

Raphael Lemkin: the ambassador of our conscience

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to massive killings and casualties among civilian population. War crimes committed during the conflict remind us of the menace of genocide, especially while the invaders put the “denazification” motto on their banners. When dealing with such a divisive topic, it is important to remember the legacy left by the man who first coined the term “genocide”.

He was the first to call genocide by its proper name. He was the one who dedicated his life to one mission and enhanced international law via his “own” convention. Like many selfless humanists, this man accomplished his goal at the expense of his private life, welfare and premature death. He was unsuccessfully nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize ten times. He was not heard, when needed. He was accepted, only when the world had no choice. He was forgotten, once the world had no more use of him. That was the fate of Raphael Lemkin.

April 25, 2022 - Grzegorz Szymborski

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