Decoder: What was the Soviet Union? Why does Putin miss it?

Decoder: What was the Soviet Union? Why does Putin miss it?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the fall of the Soviet Union was a catastrophe. What was the USSR, and what does Putin really want? Russian communist party supporters commemorate the death anniversary of the founder of the former Soviet Union, Vladimir...

It’s next to impossible to fathom why Russia might have invaded Ukraine without understanding the Soviet Union and Vladimir Putin’s attachment to the notion of an empire led by Moscow. Few are better placed than Julian Nundy, whose links to Ukraine go back more than half a century, to explain the complex relationship between Russia and its western neighbor. In his decoder, Nundy takes the reader from the upheaval of the Russian revolution to the collapse of the USSR and, with it, Russia’s loss of buffer states – for Putin, an intolerable affront.

Exercise: Ask your students to choose a revolution – if their country had a revolution, then that should be their focus – and to assess the good that may have come out of it, and the bad.

How I fled danger in Afghanistan for refuge in Ukraine

How I fled danger in Afghanistan for refuge in Ukraine

My pregnant wife and I were lucky to escape Afghanistan after it fell to the Taliban. We have swapped danger for refuge and bewilderment in Ukraine. The author and his wife bid farewell to their families at the entrance to Mazar-e-Sharif airport in Balkh province,...

Journalist Zamir Saar delivers a first-hand account of his and his wife Kamila’s experience escaping Afghanistan after the country fell to the Taliban in August. Grateful for refuge in Kyiv, Ukraine, far from the violence and downward economic spiral that face their native land, Zamir and Kamila — five months pregnant at the time they fled — now find themselves unsettled by makeshift living arrangements and uncertainty about their future. As Zamir notes, the hardest part has been leaving the familiar spaces in their home towns and finding nothing so far to replace them in their new environment. But there’s also recognition that there’s only so much a receiving country like Ukraine can do.

Exercise: Ask students to think about what makes them feel most at home and how they might recreate those things in an unfamiliar environment.

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