Monday 6 May 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 6/5/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

At the ready: ‘Siberian Battalion’ military training in Kyiv

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / Julia Lasica

On the defensive

As reports come in of Russian plans for a summer offensive, attention has turned to one of Ukraine’s biggest challenges: manpower. Moscow has reportedly enlisted some 100,000 new troops, bringing its total number of soldiers to more than a million. Kyiv, on the other hand, has only just pushed through a more comprehensive conscription law, which lowers the draft age from 27 to 25. Many Ukrainian frontline units remain critically outnumbered and exhausted, having had no chance for rotation over the past two years. In order to redress this imbalance, a more thorough militarisation of Ukrainian society is necessary – but it’s something that requires more effort from Kyiv and its allies.

With an average age of 43, Ukraine’s military is one of the oldest in the world. This stands in stark contrast to Russia, which has a far greater supply of young conscripts, who are enticed by lucrative sign-up bonuses or early release from prison sentences. Despite this, Ukraine is beginning to move in the right direction. In addition to the conscription law, Kyiv recently announced that it would suspend consular services to eligible men who are abroad, forcing them to return to the country.

Ukraine’s economy needs to be more effectively organised around the war effort; civilians with specialist skills such as medical training must be better recruited; and a homegrown defence industry should be a priority. After months of dithering in the US Congress and countless unfulfilled promises of weaponry from Europe, the instability of Ukraine’s stocks makes long-term planning difficult. Young men heading to the front line need to know that they have sufficient equipment so that fear and uncertainty can be alleviated. Kyiv has already made countless sacrifices – but they will only yield results if Western governments cement their support.

Julia Lasica is a writer and researcher at Monocle. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings


Westward bound?

China’s president, Xi Jinping, is in Paris today to be wined and dined on the finest French soft-power traditions. Xi’s visit is motivated by a need for fresh investment; a tacit recognition that the West’s rebalancing away from China has hurt the economy. It’s unclear, however, whether Emmanuel Macron will be able to mediate any grand geopolitical compromises in return. Isabel Hilton, founder of China Dialogue Trust and visiting professor at King’s College London’s Lau Institute, expects Xi’s visit to be heavy on friendly rhetoric but light on “substantive policy concessions”. Even so, Macron will hope to convince Xi to attend a Switzerland summit dedicated to peace in Ukraine this June. China’s participation would signal that its “no limits” partnership with Russia could be fraying at a slightly faster rate than its relations with the West.

Hear more about Xi Jinping’s visit to Europe on this morning’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio at 07.00 London time.

Image: Shutterstock


Word on the street

This year’s winners of The Pulitzer Prizes, the most prestigious awards in US journalism and the arts, will be announced in New York later today. The annual awards, which were established in 1917 and are administered by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, carry extra significance this year. Columbia’s campus continues to roil as a result of pro-Palestine student protests and the huge police operation that cleared them last week; an operation that university authorities placed media restrictions on.

The information gap was filled by student journalists, whose live reporting drew such large audiences that it crashed online platforms. Their coverage has already been applauded by The Pulitzer Prizes’ administrators. Though the awards have been criticised in the past, their relevance at a time of deteriorating press freedom, both at home and abroad, has received a boost. This year’s winners and finalists will be unveiled at 15.00 New York time.

To read more about how The Pulitzer Prizes are awarded each year, head to the Monocle archive for our profile of their administrator, Marjorie Miller, in issue 156.


Dream coat

Ryuhei Oomaru’s Overcoat in Tokyo is a canvas of creative ingenuity and meticulous design thought. For this follow-up to the fashion brand’s New York base, Oomaru, a designer, collaborated with local firm Atelier Write to redefine an office on the second floor of a 1980s apartment building. The partnership weaves previously hidden structures that lend themselves to the shop’s looks and functionality with elements that serve multiple functions, such as exposed steel joints used to hang stock and fabrics.

The chromatic garments hang like modern art exhibits, their vibrant hues stark against the raw concrete backdrop. By breaking down the barriers between maker and buyer, customers aren’t just purchasing a garment but engaging in a narrative and forming a connection with the creator. “I want to see who is interested in my creation,” says Oomaru who is known for his smartly tailored coats, jackets and trousers. “I want my space to become a place where my staff and customers come together to talk about creation.”

For more agenda-setting stories on fashion and design, pick up a copy of Monocle’s May issue, which features the annual Monocle Design Awards.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Issue 173

Greek revival

Despite its past economic troubles, a new wave of start-ups have started to proliferate in Athens, giving the city new life. Monocle meets the creatives and entrepreneurs who – driven by sunshine, good food and low cost of living – are bringing a renewed sense of optimism to the Greek capital.

Olgiana Melissinos

Image: Marco Arguello

It’s A Shirt colourful spring collection

Image: Marco Arguello

Clothes featuring traditional Greek block printing and Alexandra MacLellan and Harilaos Kourtinos Pallas, co-founders of Aphilo Athens

Image: Marco Arguello

Made-to-measure tailoring and one of Christina Christodoulou’s classic designs

Image: Marco Arguello

Views from above

Image: Marco Arguello

Subscribe to read the full article or log into your account if you’re already a subscriber.

Monocle Films / Culture

Britain’s smallest radio station

Located in the northwestern corner of the Scottish Highlands, Gairloch is a coastal village of about 700 people that is known for its mountains, sea loch and rugged landscape. Monocle paid a visit to Two Lochs, reportedly Britain’s smallest commercial radio station, which is nestled on Gairloch’s shores, run by a handful of volunteers and has built a loyal fanbase of global listeners.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00