Saturday. 5/3/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

News Update / Ukraine

Unsafe passage

“Humanitarian corridor” is a comforting phrase (writes Andrew Mueller). It suggests an acknowledgement by one or more parties to a conflict that there is no need to descend into outright barbarity. A humanitarian corridor therefore allows civilians an exit to safety before battle is joined. There are problems with the idea, however. One is that a humanitarian corridor is often ethnic cleansing by another name, making it easier for invaders to conquer their targets and look good (or at least merciful) while doing so. Another is that it is necessarily reliant on the good faith of whoever is offering to establish and protect the corridor.

Such an escape route, with an accompanying ceasefire, appeared to have been agreed earlier today to permit an evacuation of the Ukranian port city of Mariupol and the smaller inland town of Volnovakha, both of which have been heavily bombarded. However, the evacuation has been postponed due to a resumption of Russian shelling (Russia, naturally, claims that Ukrainian forces fired first).

Image: Getty Images

On today’s special live edition of The Foreign Desk, Russia’s word for anything seemed to be ranked as an even less valuable currency than its plummeting, sanctions-stricken rouble. Ukraine’s former deputy energy minister, Alex Riabchyn, told us that Russia’s attack on the Zaporizhzhia power plant in the early hours of yesterday amounted to nuclear blackmail. Leonid Volkov, chief of staff to imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, offered the sobering analysis that the behaviour of Vladimir Putin, a man who he had studied and whose actions he had anticipated for years, was no longer predictable or rational; that he might have fully parted company with reality during a long, austere coronavirus isolation cooped up with obscure history texts.

As is becoming a motif of our coverage, however, the voices of Ukrainians whose lives have been upended came through loudest and clearest. We spoke to opposition member of parliament Alona Shkrum, who said that she planned to resume her opposition of president Volodymyr Zelensky as soon as the war was over but, for now, “This is not about the government but our right to choose how we want to live. Putin will never take this right; he can go to hell with that.”

Listen to Monocle 24 throughout the weekend for regular updates on Ukraine and tune in to ‘Monocle on Sunday’ at 09.00 London time tomorrow for additional perspectives on the conflict.


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