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Message from the Editor: Ukraine is in a moment of real peril

Russian war on Ukraine continues to shape the world we live in and has rattled Europe’s sense of security

Two years ago yesterday, Vladimir Putin ordered an all-out invasion of Ukraine, setting off the biggest war in Europe since 1945. That act of imperial aggression united Ukrainians and jolted the West, resulting in severe sanctions against Russia and unprecedented solidarity with Kyiv. Ukrainian defiance saw off the invading forces’ assaults on Kyiv and other key cities. And, as recently as last summer, Ukrainian offensives were pressing Russia back on the battlefield.

On the two-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion, however, Ukraine is in a moment of real peril. Critical shortages of troops and ammunition leave its army in a defensive posture. European support has held firm, but US military aid has slowed and Republican opposition has stalled a vital €60 billion package that Ukraine needs to retain any kind of parity in a war fought on land, air and sea. Meanwhile, western attention is increasingly directed elsewhere – on the horror in Gaza and on the countdown to a fateful presidential election in the United States.

Yet the Russian war on Ukraine continues to shape the world we live in. Europe’s sense of its own security has been rattled. On the EU’s eastern borders, the idea of a Russian invasion is no longer unthinkable. Even in Ireland, as far from the front line as an EU state can be, there is not a town that has been untouched by the fallout from the war. More than 100,000 Ukrainians, many of them women and children, have found refuge in Ireland; already they make up one of the largest immigrant communities on the island.

In this weekend’s Irish Times, we explore each of these dimensions in turn. Daniel McLaughlin – who has reported for us on Ukraine for a decade, and who was in Kharkiv as Russian tanks rolled in on February 24th, 2022 – writes from the liberated village of Yahidne, in northern Ukraine, on the challenge of finding justice for war crimes victims.


Sorcha Pollak and Enda O’Dowd report from Bundoran in Co Donegal, a town with one of the largest Ukrainian communities in Ireland; Ronan McGreevy looks at the challenges faced by Ukrainian doctors in Ireland; and Kitty Holland examines the wider social changes wrought by this demographic upheaval. In Opinion, Lara Marlowe – who has also reported from Ukraine for The Irish Times – looks at the big questions facing Ukraine, Russia and the West as the war moves into its third year. Our main editorial concludes that, whatever happens on the battlefield, “Putin’s objective of destroying Ukraine’s independence and forcing it back under Moscow’s control is ultimately doomed to fail”.

More coverage of the war, including podcasts, videos and photo essays, can be found here.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic


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