Ukraine: How Did It Come to This? w/ Olga Onuch

1 Jul 2023 – 19:30 - 20:30 BST
Chalke Valley History Festival
Hiscox Tent
Chalke Valley History Festival Site
Church Farm
Bury Lane
Broad Chalke
Near Salisbury
Wiltshire SP5 5DP

In this timely discussion, The Zelensky Effect author Olga Onuch, Samir Puri and Peter Caddick-Adams will take a long view at Ukraine’s history, its place not only in Europe’s story but also in Russia’s and the Soviet Union’s. From the Revolution to the Holodomor, and from the Second World War through to the break-up of the USSR and the arrival of democracy, they will examine how it came to be that Russia invaded and began a brutal war with Ukraine in February 2022.

About The Zelensky Effect

With Russian shells raining on Kyiv and tanks closing in, American forces prepared to evacuate Ukraine’s leader. Just three years earlier, his apparent main qualification had been playing a president on TV. But Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly retorted, ‘I need ammunition, not a ride.’ Ukrainian forces won the battle for Kyiv, ensuring their country’s independence even as a longer war began for the southeast.

You cannot understand the historic events of 2022 without understanding Zelensky. But the Zelensky effect is less about the man himself than about the civic nation he embodies: what makes Zelensky most extraordinary in war is his very ordinariness as a Ukrainian.

The Zelensky Effect explains this paradox, exploring Ukraine’s national history to show how its now-iconic president reflects the hopes and frustrations of the country’s first ‘independence generation’. Interweaving social and political background with compelling episodes from Zelensky’s life and career, this is the story of Ukraine told through the journey of one man who has come to symbolise his country.

About the author

Olga Onuch is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester.

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