Victory, Community, Humanity

, 17.05.2022
Ukraine in Focus

In a talk for the Kyiv Security Forum, Timothy Snyder lays out ten reasons why a clear Ukrainian victory should be the desired outcome of the war, linking it to the prospects for peace, regional security, democracy, and the future of a post-imperial world. The time Ukrainians have bought all of us by fighting resolutely “should be used to think about the future. Not just a future in which Ukraine joins other democracies in different forms of cooperation, but also a future in a broader sense where a Ukrainian victory demonstrates that individual action matters, that people can take responsibility, and that the range of possibility is broader than we think, that there are things that can happen in the future that perhaps are better than we think. Ukrainian victory points us in that direction.”

The converse of a Ukrainian victory is, of course, a Russian defeat, and Vasyl Cherepanyn writes for L’Internationale that a resounding Russian defeat is essential for the future of Russia and the broader world: “Russia’s full-on assault on Ukraine was absurdly justified with the lexicon of “denazification” and “demilitarization” not accidentally. […] But if we are courageous enough to think of the future amidst the current catastrophe, the only chance for it to come is to make Russia as a state and as a country go through full and profound denazification and demilitarization. Europe once carried out such ground-shaking commitment before, and only this now can lay the new foundations of our common world. But first Russia must suffer a crushing military defeat. If we don’t achieve this, then the victory over Hitler was for nothing.”

Russian defeat is a precondition for international criminal accountability, as Marci Shore discusses in a wide-ranging conversation with Michał Sutkowski of Krytyka Polityczna (in Polish), that also touches on the importance of telling the stories of individual Ukrainians and the impact of Russian aggression on their life trajectories.

Nataliya Gumenyuk reports from Dnipro on Ukraine’s Jewish community during the war. As the country’s main center of Jewish life, the city has become a hub for Jewish mutual aid efforts and military involvement; speaking to local community members and people internally displaced to the city, Gumenyuk explores the memory of the horrors of the 20th century and its resonance today, and present-day belonging in Ukrainian society. As the city’s chief rabbi tells her, “I was born in the U.S. and to be honest, I always thought that democracy was about a better life. Now I see it’s about the right to choose. That’s exactly what Putin wants to deprive Ukrainian people of. That’s something for which we, here in Ukraine, give our lives. This is truly a people’s war. It is a war for Justice. For me, this is God’s war.”

Kateryna Iakovlenko reflects for e-flux on the role of rage in response to the war and responds to the accusation that Ukrainians are too emotional in their response: “Yes, we are emotional, but there is nothing more stable than our belief in justice and law. And eight years of war taught us this. My love is born in grief and sorrow, and thanks to my rage, it becomes even stronger. One lesson of the twenty-first century is the ability to afford vulnerability. We should allow ourselves to feel anger, rage, and anxiety, to live it as necessary. And then, with a sense of lived grief, we can rethink the concepts of humanism and the conditions of peace. After all, as we already know, not a single document signed by world leaders can protect any country from imperial encroachments and incredible violence—even one that gives nonaggression guarantees.”

Please note: The next Ukraine in Focus roundup will appear on 31 May. We are shifting to a biweekly schedule as we concentrate on our initiatives to support Ukrainians scholars, public intellectuals, and journalists. Please keep an eye on our website, as we will soon be featuring our 30 non-residential fellows (in partnership with HURI and the Harriman institute), our first 37 Documenting Ukraine grantees, and the 18 visiting fellows who will be spending 2 months at the IWM thanks to the support of the City of Vienna.