Tuesday. 13/9/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Lada Roslycky

Turning the tide

Amid Russia’s daily brutality – torture, abductions, mass deportations, mock trials, the hijacking of the largest nuclear plant in Europe and the bombing of infrastructure – it is too soon to celebrate Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive. The liberation in recent days of thousands of citizens, recovery of more than 3,000 sq km of territory and obstruction of enemy logistics lines are not mean feats but more must be done to press home the advantage.

A full victory will require greater training for Ukraine’s forces, from the use of multiple-rocket-launching systems to better deployment of the nation’s fighter-jet capabilities. It will also require more kit. So far, supplies have been dismally slow to arrive and limited when they do. The promised US-backed lend-lease programme has yet to swing into action.

One area in which Ukraine already has an upper hand is military intelligence. As Euripides once wrote, “Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.” Intelligence-sharing by allies has proved crucial in co-ordinating military action and this high level of knowledge contrasts with the poor quality of information that the Kremlin’s decision-makers have to contend with. It has also revealed the emerging value of public-private partnerships. Satellite imagery, operational data, the gracious provision of Starlink capabilities, operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX – these are the sorts of intelligence that could ultimately make or break the war.

And then there are the troops. Russia’s armed forces have been widely criticised and morale is unlikely to improve, despite the expected arrival of new deployments from North Korea, Syria and the Urals. It’s hard to be an effective fighting force when you’re increasingly aware that justice isn’t on your side. That said, without a programme to train civilians, more equipment and continued international support, Ukraine will continue to struggle to turn the tide against their occupiers.

Lada Roslycky is the founder of Black Trident, a defence and security consulting group in Kyiv.

Image: Reuters

Monarchy / UK

Union dues

King Charles III must sit above the political fray but the UK government will hope that, as with his mother, his connection to Scotland will help to hold the Union together. The role of the royal family is a complicated issue in Edinburgh; the Scottish National Party (SNP) has suggested that it would not abandon the monarchy even in the event of a break-up, even if many party supporters are less royalist. The new king was in the Scottish capital yesterday as his mother’s coffin was taken from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral. The crowds clamouring to see the king and glimpse the queen’s hearse suggest that support for the monarchy remains strong and potentially his soft-power influence. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the SNP, emphasised that this was not the day for that debate. “We stand ready to support His Majesty as he continues his own life of service and builds on the extraordinary legacy of his beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen of Scots,” she said.

Image: Getty Images

Elections / Sweden

Right frame of mind

The initial results of Sweden’s general election suggest that the country’s right-wing opposition bloc has secured a razor-thin lead. The bloc, led by Ulf Kristersson of the Moderates, is on course to defeat the left-wing group of parties led by prime minister Magdalena Andersson’s Social Democrats. Sweden’s shift to the right has surprised many, given the country’s reputation for progressive liberalism. Whatever the final result, expected no later than Thursday, there are lessons to be learned.

“This campaign was dominated by negative campaigning by the centre-left, which tried to tarnish the centre-right as fascists,” Elisabeth Braw, a columnist and resident fellow at the American Enterprise told The Globalist on Monocle 24. “I’ve never seen anything like it. A centre-right party in Sweden is not fascist.” If the centre-left wants to win elections, it must engage positively in debates about immigration and law and order.

Image: Rolex / Arnaud Montagard

Culture / USA

Passing the torch

Since 2002, Rolex’s Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative has paired leading talents with rising stars. The culmination of the latest cycle has just taken place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York with a series of premieres showcasing work backed by the scheme. Spike Lee was paired with Native American film-maker Kyle Bell (pictured, on left, with Lee), while Lin-Manuel Miranda was brought together with Argentinian film-maker Agustina San Martín. Carrie Mae Weems oversaw the work of Camila Rodríguez Triana in the visual arts category; Phyllida Lloyd was paired with Whitney White for theatre. Attendees of the event also received a mentoring masterclass as they listened to the participants talk about their careers. Lloyd urged the creatives to be confident about turning down work (“They will ask you again”) and Miranda stressed the importance of fighting for more time. Spike Lee returned time and again to the need to put in the hours. “You gotta do the work,” he told the enthralled crowd. In an age when acclaim can seem instantaneous, this quartet offered an alternative: that success should be fought for.

Image: Ben Roberts

Society / Spain

Shrinking feeling

Depopulation in vast swaths of Europe continues to destroy communities and damage economies at both local and national levels. Take, for example, Bulgaria, which has lost more than a quarter of its population since 1988, a figure that is predicted to rise to 35 per cent by 2050. By that date, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Croatia are expected to have lost a fifth of their people too.

These significant falls aren’t confined to the east of Europe. Much of rural Spain is also emptying out. Between 2010 and 2019, 6,232 of the country’s 8,131 municipalities decreased in population and many of these are now judged to be at demographic risk; as a result of ageing populations and low birth rates, they are likely to decline to the point of no return. However, Spain is fighting back and attempting to change the narrative. Discover the full story of the new pioneers in our in-depth report in the new October issue of Monocle, which is out on Thursday.

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Image: Shutterstock

Monocle 24 / The Foreign Desk

Apocalypse now?

From nuclear armageddon to climate change, fears over doomsday scenarios have a long history. But where does this obsession with the end of the world come from and what does it reveal about real-world politics?

Monocle Films / Global

Meet the photographers: Rena Effendi

In our latest film series, we meet and celebrate some of the people behind our iconic photography reportage. In our first episode Istanbul-based photographer Rena Effendi talks about her process, why she shoots on film and her assignment to Libya in 2021. She had never been to Tripoli before but was soon won over and captured a mesmerising mix of full-blown glamour, oddness and a perhaps unexpected order and calmness. Discover more with The Monocle Book of Photography, which is available to buy today.

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