Beyond the fog of war: books to help us understand the invasion of Ukraine

From Ukrainian history to Putin’s kleptocracy and Gogol’s stories, author and former Russia correspondent Oliver Bullough chooses the best titles

With Russian forces pushing deep into Ukraine, bombarding Kharkiv, Kyiv and other cities, and an unprecedented wave of western sanctions pushing the rouble down to an all-time low, it is hard for any of us to tear our eyes away from the news. But the currents of history that led up to this crisis are deep and complex, and understood in profoundly different ways in Moscow and Kyiv.

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy is a great place to start reading up on the background to the crisis. It tells the story of this large but less well-known country without the Moscow-centric bias that many of us Russian speakers have long struggled to free ourselves of. It is learned and considered, but lightly written and leavened by anecdotes.

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