Our weekly digest of articles about emerging Europe published elsewhere over the past few days, all of which caught our eye and all of which are well worth your time.
This week, we have again selected some of the best writing about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly how it impacts the rest of the region. As always, inclusion of an article here does not mean that agree with each and every word, nor that it reflects our editorial stance.
Will the West pressure Ukraine to concede territory?
If there is a single question put to me more than any other, it is not “who will win this war?” but “how long will it last?” The two questions are unavoidably connected. Both have acquired some extra urgency as Ukraine acknowledges that it is engaged in tough fighting in Donbas. Though this should not come as a surprise, given the effort that Russia has been putting into this latest phase of the war, it has challenged the developing expectation that Russia would move from one setback to another until at some point – possibly quite soon – it would be expelled from Ukraine altogether.
Odesa is at war with itself
If war is a plague, then these are its symptoms: pustules and boils that have erupted across Odesa. This is a port city in which the port no longer works. Just miles from the shore, enemy warships are ready to take aim. Every few hours the nasal shriek of an air raid siren tears through the air. Russians are shelling this place from the Crimea, and the Caspian and Black Seas.
Ukraine is buying us time. Use it wisely
The honeymoon lasted about a month. That is the bleak assessment of the Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis. In the early weeks of Russia’s war on Ukraine, it seemed briefly possible that the complacent, arrogant, ignorant, greedy countries of the “Old West” had truly woken up to the danger from Russia, and were ready to make the decisions and sacrifices necessary to meet it. Not anymore.
In a museum show, Ukraine tells the story of a war still in progress
Just days after Russian troops retreated from the suburbs surrounding Kyiv, Yuriy Savchuk, director of a World War II museum in the city, joined the police and prosecutors who were investigating the full extent of the suffering inflicted there by enemy soldiers. Over the next month, Mr Savchuk and his colleagues meticulously documented what they saw. Those discoveries and many others have become items in an exhibition called “Crucified Ukraine” that opened on May 8 at Mr Savchuk’s museum, an unusual effort to chronicle the war even as battles continue to rage in Ukraine’s east and south.
Europe’s new defence bloc: Nordics and Baltics unite in face of Russian threat
Denmark’s vote to scrap its opt-out from the EU’s defence policy with an overwhelming majority is more than a decisive change of heart in a country often hostile to European integration. Combined with the historic decisions of Finland and Sweden to seek Nato membership, the Danish result in a referendum on Wednesday changes the security situation in the Nordics completely — aligning them more closely with their Baltic neighbours and giving the whole region the potential for more clout in Europe.
Germany’s crisis of conscience
The joke of John Cleese’s “Don’t mention the war” routine was aimed more at the British than the Germans. But nearly half a century after that episode of Fawlty Towers was first broadcast, the Germans are again thin-skinned about the war. Not that war: guilt about the country’s past has run its course. German millennials seem as insouciant about antisemitism, especially the left-wing kind, as they are anywhere else. No, it is Russia’s war on Ukraine that has provoked the most intense spasm of moral introspection since the Berlin Wall fell.
Georgia, Azerbaijan see surge in transit demand amid Russia’s isolation
Europe-Asia cargo transportation through the Caucasus is growing manifold as international shippers seek to avoid Russia and hasten to set up new transit routes. Cargo transshipment through Central Asia and the Caucasus will grow six times in 2022 compared to the previous year, to 3.2 million metric tons, according to the estimates of an association composed of the major state transportation companies in the region. “This is due to the sharply increased demand for the […] route against the backdrop of recent events taking place in the world,” says the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route Association (TITR).
100 days of economic war: Can the West win against Russia?
Russia’s economy remains on its feet – largely thanks to record-high hydrocarbon prices and continued European gas purchases – allowing the bloody conflict which already claimed thousands of civilian lives and destroyed most of Ukraine to continue at full force. The dire fact that, after all this suffering, Ukrainians still seem to face at least another 100 days, if not more, of ruthless invasion, bloody offensives and unspeakable atrocities calls for a re-examination of the West’s strategy and tactics in its economic war against Russia.
How war has changed Ukraine’s second city
Ukraine’s second city, a proud, gutsy, working-class centre, faces a most uncertain future. Because it is only 40km from Russia, few thought Kharkiv stood any chance of withstanding an invasion. In the event, enemy armour was inside the sprawling city boundaries within the first three days. But a combination of spirited resistance and a reluctance by Moscow to commit the kind of forces needed to encircle the city meant Kharkiv somehow survived.
‘A game of survival’: Ukraine prepare for final World Cup push in Wales
Ukraine’s footballers outclassed Scotland for the vast majority of their World Cup playoff semi-final on Wednesday: the maelstrom of emotions and profound sense of responsibility the squad had been feeling were turned into an advantage, not a burden. Now Ukraine must do it all again. The sentiment from everyone exiting their dressing room after Wednesday’s game was identically on-message: the importance of giving joy to those back home was huge but, in footballing terms, the win would mean nothing unless it was backed up in Cardiff four days later.
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