Maverick Life


Listen to: Ukrainian war in context

A woman wears make up in the colors of the Ukrainian flag protesting against Russian invasion of Ukraine in front of Brandenburg gate on February 24, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with explosions reported in multiple cities and far outside the restive eastern regions held by Russian-backed rebels.(Photo by Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images)

Here are four podcast episodes to help us make a little more sense of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

For what is perhaps the first time, the world is watching a large-scale invasion, the outbreak of war, playing out live through many screens, across our TVs, social media channels and radios. Updates are streaming in through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and live videos of the conflict are being viewed on YouTube. We are watching war in real-time, almost to the second.

How can we make sense of what’s happening?

Maverick Life has compiled a short selection of podcasts that explain what is going on in Ukraine, what Russia’s motives are and what the consequences might – or rather will – be.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there is more information flooding in by the minute, but in these few episodes, you’ll hear from experts, journalists and Ukrainians who share their insight into a horrifying situation.

On the ground in Ukraine

Ukrainians’ Choice: Fight or Flee? – The Daily

  • Format: Podcast episode
  • Year: Since 2022
  • Listen on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts and The Daily website

In this episode, New York Times journalist Sabrina Tavernise walks the streets of Kyiv and reports what is happening on the ground in Ukraine, presenting how ordinary people are responding to the crisis and the Russian troops advancing. There is the sound of people frantically trying to find a way out of the city, pulling hastily packed wheeled suitcases behind them that clatter over the ground.

One man explains how he did not want to leave, but when he heard his friends were evacuating, he decided he would rather be with them and try to reach Poland than stay alone; another said he is evacuating his family before returning to Kyiv to take up arms.

Others are taking shelter in underground subway stations to be protected from the bombing, while another woman continues to go to work, bringing her cats along to the office in case she needs to escape quickly.

The mood is sombre, and it should be.

This episode is difficult to listen to, but it is authentic storytelling that brings the war closer to us – as we cannot and should not look away.

A police officer talks to people fleeing Ukraine as they enter Slovakia through the Ubla border crossing, 25 February 2022. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK


A phone call from Ukraine – Today, Explained

  • Format: Podcast episode
  • Year: Since 2022
  • Listen on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts and the Today, Explained website

The sound of the sirens is bone-chilling, rattling, a scream echoing over Ukraine’s cities.

Today, Explained begins the episode by playing this sound. It is not one we should recognise in 2022.

Show host Noel King calls civilians on the ground in Ukraine, and their conversations are poignant and heartbreaking.

The first call is to Kurii Vasyl and his niece Yulya, who live in the west of Ukraine, who are holding hope that the army will stop Russian advancement, but they have also made preparations to flee if they have to.

This conversation is important, it shows that this is more than politics, that there are people whose lives are being turned upside-down right now. It also highlights the deep pride that Ukrainians have in who they are and in their country.

“I feel proud to be Ukrainian. People are ready to protect, people are ready to stand,” Yulya says.

Before the call ends, King promises to check in on the family over the coming days.

Kurii chuckles. “Sure, if we are still alive. Glory to Ukraine,” he says.


The broader context

Putin’s Next Move – Talking Politics

  • Format: Podcast episode
  • Year: 2022
  • Listen on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts and the Talking Politics website

Released mere weeks before Russian forces invaded Ukraine, this episode is chilling in the midst of today’s crisis.

There are elements of the conversation that are slightly dated, but it remains an interesting insight into what world leaders were thinking in the lead-up to the invasion and what experts were predicting could happen.

Shashank Joshi, defence editor of the Economist, speaks to podcast hosts and politics experts David Runciman and Helen Thompson about what Putin hopes to get out of invading Ukraine.

“What [Putin] wants to stop is Ukraine integrating more and more into the Euro-Atlantic community,” he believes. “And if I’m correct in saying that is what he wants, then I think we’ll have cause to be extremely pessimistic about the steps he will take next.”

Although hindsight is often 20/20, this podcast conversation reveals how the writing has been on the wall for months and provides a perspective on how the build-up to this invasion has unfolded.


Why Ukraine Matters – Today, Explained

  • Format: Podcast episode
  • Year: Since 2022
  • Listen on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts and the Today, Explained website

The history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship is long and complex, and to understand what is going on it is vital to understand why.

In another episode by Today, Explained, the podcast unpacks the role of NATO, the lasting impact of the Cold War and the Soviet Union and how Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014 adds another layer to the conversation.

Using audio clips from key politicians such as George HW Bush, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin along with news reports, this episode puts the current crisis into context and places it within a timeline of events that have been pushing the countries to war for decades.

The episode also poses an interesting question of the broader consequences of the invasion.

“A lot of conservatives have been saying that if Ukraine is invaded and the US doesn’t do anything, it really sends a message to China that they can invade Taiwan,” says Jonathan Guyer, a senior foreign policy writer at Vox.

“It sends a bigger message that, ‘Hey, if you’re a smaller country, your sovereignty, your autonomy, is not necessarily guaranteed.’ When it comes to the power of the powerful, that’s the question that is being posed by the Ukraine invasion.”

Context is everything, and this episode is a fascinating and eye-opening listen that unpacks history in real-time, serving as a stark reminder that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. DM/ML


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