How Russiaʼs invasion of Ukraine affected Georgia, Finland, and Serbia. The worldʼs leading media about the war in Ukraine on October 29

Sasha Sverdlova

The Guardian, together with Voxeurope, publishes a series of essays on the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the countries of the post-Soviet bloc and their neighbors. So far, the publication has already published three essays ― about Georgia, Finland and Serbia.

  • Davit Gabunia, a Georgian playwright and novelist, writes about the gap between public sentiment in his country and its pro-Russian government. Russiaʼs full-scale invasion of Ukraine only underscored that Russians continue to treat Georgia as a colony — a vacation spot where everyone speaks Russian with a funny accent. Gabunia also considers the influx of a large number of Russians dangerous, because experience shows that the Kremlin can use the Russian-speaking diaspora as a pretext for another invasion.
  • Rosa Liksom, a Finnish artist and writer, studied and spent a lot of time in Russia in the 1980s and 90s. Liksom emphasizes the close ties between Finland and Russia ― economic, cultural and scientific. Liksom considers the severance of these ties to be excessive, as it harms business, creativity and the environment. The artist is especially worried about Finlandʼs application to join NATO, because she does not believe that the alliance will promote peace. Lixom believes that only rapprochement between Russia, Ukraine and the West will eventually lead to peace.
  • Poet Tomislav Markovic writes about the cult of Putin in Serbia, who devoted his essay to a distorted image of events in Ukraine and pro-Russian rallies in Belgrade. Markovic considers the attempts of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to maintain neutrality very dangerous. Attempts to retain the favor of the Kremlin may have been caused by hopes for the empireʼs support in the restoration of "greater Serbia", writes Markovic. The Serbian media spreads Kremlin propaganda and promotes historical revisionism, according to which the Serbs were the victims of the Bosnian War and the genocide in Srebrenica was staged. In such a paradigm, it is easy to believe that the shots from Bucha are also staged, and praising Putin seems no less natural than glorifying Slobodan Milosevic or Ratko Mladic.

The Wall Street Journal writes about the slowdown of the Russian economy. Although the increase in energy prices softened the consequences of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine for the economy of the Russian Federation, in the long term, a significant recession awaits it, the publication writes. According to forecasts of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the decrease in GDP this year will be smaller than expected ― but this decrease will also be the largest among the G20 countries. The slowdown of the world economy and, accordingly, the demand for energy carriers, together with the sanctions against the Russian Federation, will lead to the fact that production in Russia will fall even more next year than this year. Another factor that negatively affects the economy is mass mobilization and migration, which cause a shortage of personnel in the labor market. A report by the International Energy Agency says that Russia will never be able to return to the fossil fuel export volumes it had before February 24, 2022. And by 2030, as indicated in the report, Russiaʼs share in global oil and gas exports may halve.

The Los Angeles Times writes about Russiaʼs desperate attempts to capture Bakhmut. The fighting around the city shows Putinʼs intentions to achieve visible results in Ukraine after weeks of setbacks. At the same time, if Russia captured Bakhmut, it would be able to cut off the supply lines of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and open the way to Ukraine-controlled Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. Therefore, the artillery bombardment of Bakhmut has been going on for 5 months, the publication writes, the ground offensive is probably led by mercenaries from the Wagner group. However, according to Samuel Ramani, a researcher at the Royal Joint Services Institute, the "wagnerians" are effective only in terrorizing local civilians, but are much less skilled in attacking and holding territory. The consequence is obvious: 90% of the cityʼs population has left it, the rest remain without electricity and water.