Durand hoped that by producing intricate 3D models, he could offer the world a unique perspective of what was happening to some of these Ukrainian sites.
📓 War on Ukraine
In The Month That Changed a Century, Michael Hirsh discusses the way in which Putin has unsettled the political status-quo:
In little more than a month, Russian President Vladimir Putin has changed the course of this young and already troubled century. He has resurrected the threat of territorial conquest and nuclear war. He has jolted Western Europe awake from its long postwar torpor, raising the prospect of rapid German rearmament. He has put the capstone on two decades of U.S. misdirection by defying American power and influence.
Above all, with his invasion of Ukraine, Putin is trying to complete work on a vast project of destruction implicitly supported by several other world leaders, especially Chinese President Xi Jinping. Together, these leaders want to break what they see as U.S. hegemony over the international system and undermine the notion that the world is bound by a common set of values embodied in international law and upheld by institutions such as the United Nations.
Rutger Bregman explains why Europe needs Ukraine as a reminder of the hope that the EU actually offers.
Ukraine, in short, chose Europe. And Putin found that intolerable. Now it is up to us to choose Ukraine. Yes, normally the road to EU membership is long and complicated, and with good reason. But these are not normal times. Millions of brave Ukrainians have reinvigorated the European ideal—of freedom, democracy, and cooperation—and many have paid with their lives.
Timothy Snyder explains how The War In Ukraine Is a Colonial War.
Ukrainians assert their nation’s existence through simple acts of solidarity. They are not resisting Russia because of some absence or some difference, because they are not Russians or opposed to Russians. What is to be resisted is elemental: the threat of national extinction represented by Russian colonialism, a war of destruction expressly designed to resolve “the Ukrainian question.” Ukrainians know that there is not a question to be answered, only a life to be lived and, if need be, to be risked. They resist because they know who they are.
Phillips Payson O’Brien makes the case that the current campaign serves as the end of heavy and expensive military power.
The future shape of militaries is open to debate. What is clear, though, is that investing in large World War II–era materiel such as the heavy tank, enormous aircraft carrier, and super-expensive fixed-wing aircraft has never been riskier. As far less expensive but still lethal systems continue to improve, the investment that will be required to protect larger, more expensive weapons systems will be financially crippling, even for the American military. Instead, political and military leaders will need to start conceiving of an entirely different battlefield, full of lighter, smaller, more mobile, and in many cases autonomous or remotely operated weapons. In essence, they will need to prepare for the first wars of the 21st century.
Ilya Kaminsky collects together testimonies associated with life in Ukraine during wartime. The them that comes up again and again is ‘time’:
In occupied cities, time doesn’t exist, it is gone. War is not about time; time was completely destroyed in Gostomel, where the morning begins by chopping wood and lighting a fire to cook food. In the occupied city, we focus on those few hours when the generator is working. We are waiting for only two things—victory to be announced or the opportunity to escape.
For me, time has become a carousel: everything flashes, and you realize with a little effort that it is a certain hour, day of the week, and day of the month, and that it all belongs to Anno Domini 2022. During war, time is the location of the sun and stars and the season, rather than the numbers on the phone or the angle between the hands on the clock. On the one hand, wartime is timelessness, and on the other, it is filled with nervous attempts to look ahead.
Susan J. Wolfson makes the comparison between Volodymyr Zelensky and Lord Byron.
And so Volodymyr Zelensky—like Byron, a skilled public speaker, a satirist, an entertainer—fulfills one Byronic dream. If Byron was first a poet, then a celebrity, then a political activist in Italy, then a political force in a war of independence in the same time zone as Ukraine, Zelensky brings it all together as the genuine Byronic hero of our times. Here is a celebrity entertainer who played a fictional president on television, then was himself elected president, then in a national crisis used a comedian’s knack for concision and punch to become a leader of consequence, and an international hero.
Keith Gessen reflects upon war-termination theory and Russia’s not so ‘secret’ weapon and how it still serves as the great unknown.
In this situation, the secret weapon is nuclear. And its use carries with it the risk, again, of even greater involvement in the war by the U.S. But it could also, at least temporarily, halt the advance of the Ukrainian Army. If used effectively, it could even bring about a victory. “People get very excited about the front collapsing,” Goemans said. “But for me it’s, like, ‘Ah-h-h!’ ” At that point, Putin would really be trapped.
Responding to Putin’s call for mobilisation, Thomas Snyder posits that this puts more pressure on Russian politics than it does on the people of Ukraine:
There is a cleft both in elite and public opinion in Russia, and it is now becoming visible on television. Some people think that the war is a holy cause and can be won if heads roll, leadership behaves honorably, and more men and materiel are sent to the front. Among them are the military bloggers who are actually at the front, and whose voices are becoming more mainstream. This is a trap for Putin, since he is already sending everything that he can. Those voices make him look weak. Other people think that the war was a mistake. These voices will make him look foolish. This is just the most basic of a number of contradictory positions that Putin now faces, from an exposed and weakened position.
Though analysts and historians will spend years arguing about exactly why prewar assessments of the Russian military proved so flawed, two reasons are immediately apparent. First, Western analysts misunderstood the Russian military’s ability to undertake the most complex operations and the robustness of its logistical capabilities. And second, prognosticators paid too little attention to the basic motivations and morale of the soldiers who would be asked to use the Russian military’s allegedly excellent doctrine and equipment.
In short, it’s okay to sit and stay with the horror that is the war in Ukraine. You don’t have to have an opinion beyond whatever you are feeling right now. The temptation to say more than the obvious is being driven by a media system that profits off this compulsion, and only makes things worse in the process.
Don’t add fuel to that fire.
In history, any starting point bears the vulnerability of arbitrariness. That said, what follows are nine books from the past century in different genres, by authors from different countries, that can help us grasp the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941–1968, by Heda Margolius Kovály
A Czech Jew born in 1919, Margolius Kovály survived the Łódź Ghetto and Auschwitz before escaping from a death march and making her way back to Prague. In her memoir, she recalls how her friends were too afraid to shelter her. After the Red Army liberated Prague from German occupation, she and her husband, Rudolf Margolius, also a survivor of the Nazi camps, joined the Communist Party.
There’s clearly no Russian Plan B for Ukraine. If that is indeed the case, then we know what’s likely to happen.
When Chechnya was being obliterated in 1999, most of us paid little attention. After all, it wasn’t a European country. But Ukraine is.
Our complacent post-1946 holiday has really come to an end.
The question for world leaders is how to ensure the Russian president is defeated while nevertheless providing him a route out of the crisis.
Unlike Khrushchev, Putin has not simply walked up to a line, but crossed it, unleashing a terror for which he should be held accountable. The horrible reality, though, is that the best option for the West might involve finding a way for him to not be held as accountable as he should be—but then to never forget what he has done.
This is also something Ezra Klein and Fiona Hill discuss on The Daily podcast.
Alternatively, Stan Grant touches on the wider political implications in regards to China and Taiwan.
Xi Jinping is the puzzle. He says he is a champion of globalisation and multilateralism. But he sounds and acts increasingly despotic.
Who is the true Xi? If it is the authoritarian who believes his time has come — if he will not talk Putin down — then we face the prospect of an even more deadly conflict in the near future.
In that case, we must accept that Vladimir Putin has not only invaded Ukraine, he has invaded Taiwan as well.
Even well-meaning attempts to participate in the news can play into bad actors’ campaigns.
Before you share, ask yourself: Can you personally translate the language being spoken? Are you equipped to research and analyze videos and photos from sources you’ve never encountered before? Although citizen journalism is often deeply valuable, it requires real skill and training to do well. Be realistic about what you’re able to do, and why.
In addition to this, Ohlheiser talks about the importance of being willing to clean up after yourself.
Both Mitchell and Caulfield outlined similar best practices here: If you share bad information on Twitter, screenshot your mistake, post a correction by replying to or quote-tweeting the incorrect information, and then delete the tweet that contains the misinformation.
It has been interesting to see the prevalence of information, such as the ability to follow the Russian convoy. However, it is the ease of sharing which I imagine can also have detrimental effects.
There is a useful analogy with Pearl Harbor. In the late 1930s, Japan had invaded Manchuria and was engaged in a war with China. And the U.S., which was supporting China at the time, imposed an oil embargo on Japan. We squeezed the Japanese government until they realized they only had about a year and a half of resources left. They were desperate to stop the oil embargo. So they took the gamble of Pearl Harbor and paid for it with a costly war in the Pacific. I think we have to consider a question: If we apply similar economic pressure to Russia, could Putin make a similar decision to what Japan did in 1941?
There are now five ways that the aggression in Ukraine can end, according to Paul Poast, a professor of foreign policy and war at the University of Chicago. They are: a disastrous quagmire or retreat for Russia; violent regime change in Kyiv; the full conquest of Ukraine; the beginning of a new Russian empire; or a chaotic stumble into something like World War III.
Bryan Alexander also provides his own collection of simulations and scenarios.