News & Updates

The War in Ukraine Two Years On

Two years ago, Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands have been wounded or killed in this war of attrition. In the Journal of Democracy’s latest online exclusive, Zoltan Barany reflects on what has changed since last year, and on how democracies and autocracies wage war differently.

As the war enters its third year, Ukrainian arsenals are drained and allied support is flagging. Still, Putin appears to be as determined as ever to continue the fight. The following Journal of Democracy essays reveal the impulses that led Putin to launch this brutal campaign and the resilience of those who are willing to risk everything to stop him.

Why Ukraine Is Starting to Lose
Putin doesn’t care how many of his troops die. He is looking to win a war of attrition. On the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine needs the West’s help—and it needs it now.
Zoltan Barany

What Putin Fears Most
Forget his excuses. Russia’s autocrat doesn’t worry about NATO. What terrifies him is the prospect of a flourishing Ukrainian democracy.
Robert Person and Michael McFaul

How Zelensky Has Changed Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelensky is far more than a brave wartime leader. He began changing the tenor and direction of Ukrainian politics long before the people made him their president.
Jessica Pisano

The Putin Myth
Vladimir Putin’s reputation as a skillful leader was buoyed by years of economic good fortune. But when his regime faltered, his rule quickly descended into the fearful, repressive, and paranoid state we see today.
Kathryn Stoner

The Legacy of a True Russian Patriot
Alexei Navalny loved Russia and was willing to risk everything for it. It is hard to grasp the magnitude of his death for his people and his country.
Lucian Kim

Why Alexei Navalny Mattered in Life and Still Matters in Death
Vladimir Putin may have imprisoned, tortured, and killed the brilliant opposition leader, but even now Navalny is a threat to the corrupt autocracy Putin has built.
Kathryn Stoner

How Ukraine Divides Postcommunist Europe
In East-Central Europe, neither physical proximity nor memories of Soviet domination have united countries in their response to the war in Ukraine. What matters most is who stands to benefit.
Anna Grzymała-Busse

Why Russia’s Democracy Never Began
People obsess over where Russia’s democracy went wrong. The truth is it did not fail: Russia’s democratic transition never got off the starting blocks.
Maria Snegovaya

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Image credit: Yasuyoshi CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images