How the international media covered the Russo-Ukrainian war, May 18

Anton Semyzhenko

Vox tells what the recent events around Mariupol mean for Ukrainians and Russians. In Russia, the evacuation of the last defenders of the city from Azovstal is presented as a great victory: finally the city is under Russian control. Right, a large seaport is a valuable asset, the publication agrees. However, in the psychological sense, victory is more for Ukraine. The city surrendered to the occupiers only when it was completely destroyed, and several thousand Ukrainian soldiers successfully opposed some of the best and several times more numerous units of the Russian army. "Yes, now Russia can talk about victory. But there is no heroism in it: this victory was achieved by pummeling and pummeling and pummeling and pummeling," Vox quotes Olga Oliker of the International Crisis Group. Instead, for Ukrainians, the city became a symbol of resistance and perhaps the most heroic deeds of this war.

Millions of Ukrainians have moved to Poland in search of asylum. There have been many publications about how they live there, what difficulties they face and what help they receive. But how do Poles themselves, especially young people, feel in the new situation? US Public Radio NPR has explored this topic. The heroes of its article ― Tomek, Lilia and Basia ― are Poles, who are a little over 20 years old. Tomek visited the Polish-Ukrainian border several times as a volunteer, distributing water and food. In the end, he took one of the refugees to live with him. He soon felt that all his conversations were about helping Ukraine, and the rest of lifeʼs worries receded into the background. Lilia also went to the border and remembers these five days as the most intense time in her life. "In Warsaw, I also constantly help with humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but itʼs a different feeling. At the border, you look this war-caused problem straight in the eye. Itʼs also an extraordinary feeling when strangers team up with strangers to help strangers," she said. Basia also hosted several refugees and learned about many new Ukrainian towns from which people came. Now she plans to organize summer camps for Ukrainian children.

Charles Kupchan, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University, published a column in the influential American magazine The Atlantic (which often features articles in support of Ukraine). This column is about why the war should be frozen. Kupchan is worried that if Ukrainian army continues to advance, it will lead to many new casualties, and Putin will have to either use his artillery and missiles as intensively as possible, or use weapons of mass destruction. In addition, inflation in Europe and the United States is already visible, as are fatigue from fighting and anticipation of distant economic problems. Kupchan reassures that Putin has not achieved any of the goals set at the beginning of the invasion ― and therefore has already lost. And calls on the West to urge Ukraine to peace as soon as possible.

French expert from Russia Nicolas Tenser has the opposite opinion: he calls on the West not to agree to a truce with Putin. In a column for the CEPA, he gives numerous arguments as to why this should not be done. For example, because every day of the occupation leads to casualties in the occupied territories, and because the truce will still be a symbolic victory for Putin, as Russia will still be able to bite off a piece of Ukrainian territory. However, in the global context, the main thing, according to Tenser, is not even that. This is not the first time in the last few decades that Russia has launched large-scale dark campaigns in other countries, including Venezuela, Syria, Georgia, and several African and Balkan countries. Russia has not yet been punished for all those de facto crimes, it can still rely on its allies in these countries ― usually on bloodthirsty dictators. Defeat in Ukraine will show these "friends" of Putin that he is not so steadfast and that Russia as an ally is a strategically wrong choice. Also, Putinʼs defeat in the war will trigger many processes in Russian society. At the very least, there is a chance that Russians will realize that opposing themselves to the rest of the world and militarizing brings neither success, nor wealth, nor honor.