Debate | Roundtable discussion
Reflections on a year of Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine
- Friday 24 February 2023
2511 VA The Hague
This roundtable will take place a year to the day since Russia’s intensified invasion of Ukraine. The effects of this war have, of course, been felt most by Ukrainians who have borne the brunt of Russian aggression. As of February 2023, the UN refers to approximately 19,000 casualties and over 7,000 deaths of Ukrainians, acknowledging too that these figures are not the full account. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs records show 5.4 million displaced, 8 million taking refuge elsewhere in Europe and nearly 18 million in need.
The effects of the war have been felt far beyond the Ukrainian space too. In the first few months of the war, the Food and Agriculture Organisation sounded the warning on how 8-13 million people across the world were vulnerable to under-nutrition as a result of the war and sanctions on Russia, given the importance of Ukraine and Russia to grain and oilseed production. A further far-reaching result has been felt in the energy crisis, a recent study demonstrating that higher energy costs could result in up to 141 million people living below the World Bank’s extreme poverty level. At the same time, it has been only very recently that obvious connections have been made between the energy crisis and the climate crisis, but the obvious and unequivocal turn to renewables that is required remains a step only partially taken, exposing, as with the pandemic, the failure of states to turn crisis into opportunities taken. This was exacerbated by fears of a nuclear accident amid intense fighting around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, with consequences in some states for nuclear energy policy – and therefore the climate crisis.
The war has had enormous implications for regional and international relations too. Questions abound about: the decline and rise of certain states; shifting loyalties and alliances; the so-called return of geopolitics to Europe; a new cold war; a nuclear war; authoritarian states versus democracies; multipolarity vs multilateralism; the need to decolonise Russia; the legacy of past (and continuing) European colonialism and how this affects abilities to build coalitions of the willing; and so much more.
It is in the background of all this that our panelists will share their reflections on the past year and its effects.