My heart goes out to the Ukrainians who have been displaced, killed, injured, and traumatized by the invasion and who will continue to grapple with the destruction. Here is a link to a Washington Post page with ways to contribute to Ukrainians. I also feel for the Russian people who will suffer because of their leader. I wish no one ever had to face hardship and show their mettle, to have cause to become inspiration. But Ukrainians and their President have much to be proud of, in their valiant defense of their home.
Something I noticed was how Putin's disinformation narrative fell apart and the international community responded in solidarity with Ukraine. Perhaps a small part of that is because the Biden administration publicized its intelligence that Putin would invade ahead of time. It enabled the world to get ahead of Russian disinformation goons. I saw an Internet commentator say that Putin's address demonstrated a 19th century rationale for the invasion. And, understanding that Tolstoy is a 19th century Russian writing fiction based around historical events that happened before he was born, I hope to finish W&P to help fill gaps in my knowledge about 19th century Russian history. I suppose the greater goal is understanding why we are seeing what we see today. Of course, this one book is not enough, and reading is not enough. Here is a google document with vetted nonprofits benefiting Ukrainians. I find myself - again - humbled by how many books I need to read, how little I know, how huge the world is, how many people there are and how many ways to live, how much there always is to learn.
In recent years, I have felt more and more helpless when I see anti-democratic trends in the US - the electoral college throwing the 2020 election against the will of the people, the January 6 Insurection, Mitch McConnell subverting SCOTUS nomination norms with respect to President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, the way the vote is being systematically denied - again - to Black Americans, the ways that laws asking neighbors to turn on each other are being passed (Texas abortion law AND the most recent trash from Texas Governor Abbott about reporting medical treatment for trans kids as 'child abuse') - alongside the impunity with which Donald Trump used this country and its resources as a cudgel FOR PUTIN against Ukraine, and in so many other ways. The temptation has been there to withdraw and just take care of myself, but the more I learn, the more I see that impulse as an abdication of responsibility and that countering that impulse is a categorical imperative. Ukrainians standing up for their people against a sociopathic bully, his tanks, and his lies is a testament to this.
Resources this last week has brought to mind:
Gaslit Nation, a podcast by two experts in authoritarian governments, Dr. Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa. They have been sounding alarm bells about Ukraine, Paul Manafort, and Trump since before the 2016 election, before his campaign removed support for Ukraine from the GOP party platform in 2016.
Mr. Jones, feature-length film directed by Agnieszka Holland, written by Andrea Chalupa (streaming on Hulu), about the Welsh journalist who tipped off the world to the Holodomor in Ukraine
Books about activism and histories of resistance:
Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit (collected works, really)
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown
Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times by carla bergman and Nick Montgomery
Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright (audiobook, read by the author)
Books about modern-day Russia:
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder (I think this is great for its portrayal of post-Soviet Russia and how Putin consolidated power, though I do not necessarily think western venture capitalists' exploitation of early-'90s Russia is necessarily something to laud.)
The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen
Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire by Victor Sebestyen
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America by Sarah Kendzior
The View from Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America by Sarah Kendzior
Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen
Twitter follows for expert coverage and/or commentary on Ukraine:
Sarah Kendzior @sarahkendzior
Andrea Chalupa @AndreaChalupa
Olga Lautman @OlgaNYC1211
The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent)
Links to more sources on Ukraine and/or Russia:
I realize there are some serious gaps in these lists. I welcome any additions. I also have not read any books specifically about Ukraine, so please send your recs along. Solidarity!