As this special series goes live, we observe the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has been a surprising twelve months. What the majority of us thought would be a short war turned out to be something very different. Ukraine proved its strength, while Russia’s supposedly daunting war machine was exposed. There were remarkable shows of solidarity for Ukraine. NATO governments responded with robust military aid, which by now has crossed what we thought could be “red lines” for a Russian escalation. We gained an international star in Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Putin looks surprisingly vulnerable. These are pretty good surprises.
It’s not all good. Russia is proving determined and remains militarily a colossus, if an ill-maintained one. NATO’s military aid has often felt poorly coordinated and concerns remain that too much aid will provoke Russia to escalate the conflict. Zelensky’s government is struggling with corruption. We’re starting to notice that many non-aligned countries (especially in the Global South) don’t see this conflict in the black-and-white terms that we in the West do.
As I write this note, Russia is pushing hard to capture Bakhmut with record levels of shelling and conflicting reports that suggest Russia is making progress despite heavy losses. This could already be the first shots of the much-anticipated “spring offensive,” but we don’t really know anything for certain.
For this commemorative special edition, we asked contributors to reflect on this sense of uncertainty. Some of our contributors looked at today’s unexpected situation and what it means. Others peered into the future to at least think about what the future could look like, and how.
We lead with four pieces that look at the situation now, leading with a Q&A with Gallup’s Galina Zapryanova, who explains how Gallup continued to collect data during the conflict and what they learned. Joshua Huminski follows up with a dual-book review of two books that take early stabs at writing the history of the war.
Drs. Nina Chala, Olga Voropai, and Kateryna Pichik explain how Ukraine’s university system remained resilient through the conflict, and how university’s role evolves in times of conflict. Then, Kyivstar CEO Olexandr Komarov unpacks how human trafficking has surged among Ukrainian refugees and the role the private sector has to play fighting it.
Six pieces look ahead. Wesley Culp looks at whether the war will spell doom for Russia’s now-fragile Collective Security Treaty Organization. Andrea Bonime-Blanc and Tomer Salban analyze Ukraine’s robust defense in the digital side of the war and pull out key lessons that will help define our cyber future. Mark Temnycky makes an argument for how Ukraine not only can, but likely will emerge the victor.
Ethan Brown warns that the kind of proxy conflict the West has turned Ukraine into is a very delicate balance between not enough support and so much support it triggers an escalation. Dr. Richard Rousseau works toward what a potential peace could look like, by examining examples from recent history. Nikola Mikovic, finally, makes some predictions about what a post-war Russia—and its changed relationships with Ukraine and the West—could look like.
As ever, we are really proud of the quality and range of voices we are able to publish in our special series. The same has been true all year on the website. Diplomatic Courier hopes this series, and these voices, can help add depth and understanding to your perspectives on this ongoing tragedy. We’re also very grateful to you for continuing to come to us for perspectives and analyses.