The Russo-Ukrainian War: From the bestselling author of Chernobyl

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The Russo-Ukrainian War: From the bestselling author of Chernobyl

The Russo-Ukrainian War: From the bestselling author of Chernobyl

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Do you know what is at stake in Ukraine? Urgent, compelling reading from the author of Chernobyl on the defining conflict of our times Nach Gorbatschow musste sich die Sowjetunion neu ordnen, oder das, was von ihr übrig war. „Im November 1988 erklärte Estland als erste Sowjetrepublk seine Souveränität.“ 1991 stimmte die Mehrheit der Ukrainer für die Unabhängigkeit. Selbst in Russlands Herzen gab es Bestrebungen nach mehr Demokratie, bevor Jelzin 1993 sein eigenes Parlament unter Beschuss nehmen ließ. In Russland geht es nie ohne Gewalt ab. Und Moskau will nicht begreifen oder einsehen, dass niemand freiwillig auf seinem Schoß sitzt. Wen es nicht mit Waffengewalt in Schach hält, der läuft davon und das so schnell wie möglich. Fazit: Serhii Plokhys „Der Angriff“ zeichnet sich durch Allgemeinverständlichkeit aus, Zahlen und Fakten sind unvermeidlich, vor allem, wenn der Autor auf einzelne Militäraktionen kommt, aber er erklärt auch vieles, so, dass man den skrupellosen Angriff auch dann versteht, wenn man kein Historiker ist.

Der Verfasser erzählt und erklärt mit Herzblut. Er macht deutlich, dass sich die Welt verändert hat und Moskau sich nicht mehr alles erlauben kann. Er sagt aber auch, dass es ein Fehler der freien Welt war, auf die Annexion der Krim bloß mit lauwarmen Worten zu reagieren, nur um Russland nicht zu erzürnen, denn, „mit der Annexion der Krim wurden Imperialismus und Nationalismus zu zentralen Elementen und Triebkräften der russischen Außenpolitik“. Ebenso war es ein krasser Fehler, der Ukraine auf dem Bukarest-Gipfel 2008 den Weg in die Nato zu verweigern, denn dadurch war die Ukraine, die zuvor auf ihr Atomwaffenarsenal verzichtet hatte, schutzlos. Doch die Souveränität der Ukraine ist wichtig für Europa und für den Frieden in der ganzen Welt. Plokhy stellt natürlich auch dar, wie sich China positioniert, wie die USA, wie Indien, der ferne Osten, die europäischen Länder - und erklärt auch warum. Anders dan in Rusland wist het parlement in Oekraïne met vallen en opstaan wél een sterke positie te verwerven tegenover de uitvoerende macht. De vreedzame machtswisseling na de presidentsverkiezingen van 1994, van Leonid Kravtsjoek naar Leonid Kuchma, was een belangrijke eerste mijlpaal in de democratische ontwikkeling van de voormalige sovjetrepubliek. Voor de goede orde: Kuchma bleek als president allesbehalve een voorbeeldige democraat. Net als Jeltsin in Moskou, probeerde hij de grondwet naar zijn hand te zetten. Anders dan Jeltsin, slaagde hij daarin echter niet. Tien jaar later, in 2004, lukte het Kuchma evenmin om Viktor Janoekovitsj, de corrupte pro-Russische gouverneur van Donetsk, tot zijn opvolger te benoemen. Hoe corrupt en verdeeld Oekraïne ook was, de meeste Oekraïners eisten democratie en velen bleken bereid hiervoor hun nek uit te steken tijdens de eerste Maidan-protesten na de gemanipuleerde verkiezingen van 2004. Rusland raakte langzaam maar zeker de greep op Oekraïne steeds meer kwijt. It is a cruel game to ask a historian to look into the future. But here we are and, as Plokhy himself says, rephrasing Churchill, historians are probably “the worst commentators on contemporary events except for all the others”. So what about the Ukrainians’ spring counteroffensive, I ask – which, when we speak in the last days of April, is expected any day. A July photograph shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the distance, across from the now-emptied Kakhovka Reservoir. Future historians will judge whether Plokhy’s vision was correct. Ukraine has not won the war yet, after all. And all kinds of nightmare scenarios, including nuclear war, might still play out.

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Mearsheimers advies werd niet opgevolgd. In plaats daarvan zette de Clinton-regering Kiev onder druk om de in Oekraïne aanwezige kernwapens aan Rusland af te staan. Na lang wikken en wegen gaf Oekraïne zijn kernwapens inderdaad op, in ruil voor de belofte van de permanente leden van de VN-Veiligheidsraad (met inbegrip van Rusland) om de Oekraïense soevereiniteit te eerbiedigen — vastgelegd in het Boedapest-memorandum van 1994. In aanvulling hierop tekenden Jeltsin en Kuchma in 1997 een ‘vriendschapsverdrag’ om het probleem van de Russische Zwarte Zee-vloot op de Krim voorlopig te regelen. Ondanks het Boedapest-memorandum en het ‘vriendschapsverdrag’, kon Oekraïne zich nooit volledig veilig wanen voor Russische geopolitieke ambities (te meer niet omdat het ‘vriendschapsverdrag’ strandde in de Russische Doema). Oekraïne zocht daarom, in navolging van Polen en Tsjechië, voor zijn veiligheid in toenemende mate toenadering tot de Navo.

Ukraine, meanwhile, is fighting for its survival. The invasion turbo-charged a process of decolonisation, which began in 1991, and accelerated in 2014 when Putin annexed Crimea. Statues have been toppled, Pushkin and assorted Moscow generals carried away. A plaque to the Soviet writer Mikhail Bulgakov – who opposed Ukrainian independence – has disappeared from the medical academy in Kyiv where he studied. Essentialising 'Russia' won't end the war against Ukraine. Might 'real and credible' force be the answer? On the other hand, however, Russia’s aggression did help arm and train Ukraine, which built a formidable, if still inadequately armed, army. When all-out war came in 2022, Ukraine was in a much stronger position to defend itself, particularly once NATO and the European Union overcame their reluctance to adequately support one of the few democracies in the former Soviet space. The world's foremost historian of Ukraine. . . the chronicler of a country on the front lines of a seismic European war' Financial Times

If you do nothing, you will be auto-enrolled in our premium digital monthly subscription plan and retain complete access for 65 € per month. Whatever happens, historians will draw on this book when assessing the history of this war. Alongside journalists such as Anna Arutunyan, Luke Harding and Owen Matthews, Plokhy has provided an invaluable first draft of a history of this war. For historians, he’s concluded, “It’s important not to always wait until things are over before you speak.” The past makes the present legible, even as events keep tumbling rapidly, messily, relentlessly forward. Ukraine nationalists can point to a number of instances when Russia said Ukraine was independent; their opponents can also find many instances when the answer was otherwise. It's impossible for a layman to determine when an assurance is credible and when it is not. I suspect that even experts on diplomacy and international relations have no clear criteria to measure credibility. Until that time when we can determine whether an assurance is in good faith, its a "She says – He says" dilemma.Plokhy describes the current conflict as “an old-fashioned imperial war” conducted by Russian elites who see themselves as “heirs and continuators” of great-power traditions. These expansionist ideas come from Russia and the Soviet Union. The Kremlin’s aggression, he suggests, is a 19th-century land grab, fought using 20th-century battlefield tactics and 21st-century weaponry. This was not an amicable division: collateral succession was the norm at that time, with property passing to a single heir, typically the eldest son. Yoropolk, the eldest, objected to Vladimir's grant and in 977AD the "Great Feudal War of Succession" began. Vladimir won and in 980AD he became Grand Prince of both Novgorod as well as Grand Prince of Kiev. In 988AD the pagan Vladimir was baptized into the Eastern Orthodox Church centered in Constantinople. But soon he began to change his mind. History, after all, is a weapon in this conflict. Vladimir Putin’s justification for his aggression towards Ukraine is rooted in his (twisted and faulty) understanding of the past. He even wrote a sprawling, inaccurate essay laying out his views in 2021, titled On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians. Plokhy began to feel compelled to fight the Russian president’s terrible history writing with good, solid history writing of his own. His chapter contrasting Ukraine and Russia’s different trajectories is fascinating. After a semi-democratic interlude under Boris Yeltsin, Moscow reverted to autocracy. Ukraine, by contrast, managed to preserve a competitive presidential-parliamentary system. Regional differences helped. Pro-reform nationalists in the west of the country had to find compromises with Moscow-leaning communists in the east. His chapter contrasting Ukraine and Russia’s different trajectories is fascinating In short, Plohky claims that Putin's success on today's battlefield would not restore Russia to its former self; rather, it would create a new entity – a Ukraine once again subservient to the Federation of Russia.

Vladimir's region of Novgorod and Kiev was the genesis of Ukraine. In 2016, after his annexation of Crimea, Putin famously recognized Kievan Rus' as the origin of Russia and Saint Vladimir as the father of Russia. This recognition was in the form of a statue of St. Vladimir elected in Moscow, near the Kremlin. The "Monument to Vladimir the Great" is a massive 58-foot statue of warrior-saint Valentine, sword in one hand and cross in the other, overlooking his Russian landscape. It has become a meme for Putin. In dit licht bezien was het besluit van Boris Jeltsin in 1993 om met militaire middelen een einde te maken aan de onafhankelijke positie van het Russische parlement van grote betekenis voor de toekomstige verhoudingen tussen Rusland en Oekraïne. Hij voerde daarna een nieuwe grondwet in die de macht verplaatste naar de president. De presidentiële verkiezingen van 1996, die Jeltsin slechts met grote moeite van de Communisten wist te winnen door zich te verbinden aan de nieuwe ‘oligarchen’-klasse, zetten de ontwikkeling van Rusland naar een “‘managed’ or ‘sovereign’ democracy” kracht bij. (48) Aldus werd de weg geplaveid voor een terugkeer naar een autoritaire regeringsvorm. In zijn nawoord laat Plokhy de wens wellicht wat te veel de vader van de gedachte zijn als hij schrijft: “There are clear indications that the Ukrainian nation will emerge from this war more united and certain of its identity than at any other point in its modern history. Moreover, Ukraine’s successful resistance to Russian aggression is destined to promote Russia’s own nation-building project. Russia and its elites now have little choice but to reimagine their country’s identity by parting ways not only with the imperialism of the tsarist past but also with the anachronistic model of a Russian nation consisting of Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians. By paying an enormous price in wealth and the blood of its citizens, Ukraine is terminating the era of Russian dominance in a good part of Eastern Europe and challenging Moscow’s claim to primacy in the rest of the Soviet space.” (294)This book is in two halves, before 22 February 2022 and after. I needed the first part (but not the second) because after all the millions of words spouted forth by the journalists and professors, still my brain could not quite grasp exactly why Putin decided to roll his tanks. Plokhy schreibt in absolut verständlicher Form von dem Angriff Russlands auf die Ukraine, den in der Ukraine kaum einer für möglich gehalten hat, auch Wolodymyr Selenskyj nicht, obwohl mehrfach von den Amerikanern vorgewarnt. Plokhy erzählt von den ersten Tagen und Wochen, von dem Entsetzen, von den Gräueltaten der Russen, von ihren falschen Erwartungen, von dem Leiden der Bevölkerung, vom tapferen Widerstand des ukrainischen Militärs und Paramilitärs, von den Massenfluchten. Plokhy prefers “Russo-Ukrainian war” to alternatives like “ Russia’s war against Ukraine”. While the latter expression is well suited to emphasising Russia’s culpability in this war, the former stresses that Ukraine is not just a victim of Russia, but its equal. I've wanted to read Serhii Plokhy's history of Ukraine, 'The Gates of Europe', for a while now. But when I discovered that he has written a book about the current war in Ukraine, I decided to read that first.



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