“You can see more clearly in the dark”, by Tetyana Ogarkova

Tetyana Ogarkova.
Tetyana Ogarkova. (DR / A WEEKEND IN THE EAST)

I write this text in the dark. The computer still has battery, and I have a charger that can extend its operation. I write this text in the dark because blackouts have become part of our daily lives. Forty Russian missiles were launched today at Ukrainian cities. Twenty were destroyed by Ukrainian air defenses. The others hit electrical installations in the center and west of the country. We get used to living in the dark.

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Every morning, I cross this moment between sleeping and waking up where the amnesia of the night still reigns. This sweet moment when our children slip into our bed to spend the last minutes of the night there. During this brief moment, between sleeping and waking, I feel like everything we’ve been through for eight months was just a bad dream.

But we can dream. In less than a second, my memory comes back to me. I walked well beside the graves of the civilians massacred by the Russian army in the forest of Izioum. I received a text message from my eldest daughter: “Don’t worry, the telephone network is disrupted, but we are fine, it looks like the explosion was very close to our house”. I looked into the eyes of a woman who, one fine summer day, had lost her 8-year-old granddaughter and her 38-year-old daughter to the Russian bombardment. I kissed another woman, my mother’s age, who has no news of her son being arrested by Russian soldiers in March. She must have a DNA analysis performed to find out if the body bearing the number 319 found in the cemetery of Izioum is indeed that of her son. I saw hundreds of houses destroyed in Butcha, Irpin, Borodianka, Moschun, Makariv, Velyka Dymerka, Chernigiv and in so many other cities. The war ended three to four kilometers from our apartment in Brovary. I will never be able to forget it.

I write these lines in the dark. And I think it’s this black that allows us to see very clearly.


At the heart of Russia’s war against Ukraine is the idea of impunity, crime without punishment. The maximum range of Russian missiles reaches two thousand kilometers, while for the Armed Forces of Ukraine it is limited to one hundred kilometers. Russia therefore has the capacity to inflict strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine, with complete impunity.

The Russian army can ruin entire Ukrainian cities with their artillery fire while no one plans to attack Russian cities. Russian officials can brandish the threat of nuclear weapons without Western states responding in a way strong enough to put an end to this blackmail. Russian soldiers can kill and torture Ukrainian civilians without fear of harm to their civilians and military. Russia still has a place on the UN Security Council and is only recognized as a terrorist state by a very limited number of countries.

Obliged to see more clearly in the darkness that has been imposed on us by the Russian army which systematically destroys the electrical installations of Ukraine, we must also admit another obvious fact: this idea of ​​Russian impunity is partly nurtured by the weakness of Western responses.

Today, while almost all civilized countries support Ukraine, the war is bogged down. The caution of Western arms deliveries is intended to demonstrate to Russia that the West is keen to avoid direct confrontation. Western countries try not to cross certain red lines drawn by the Kremlin. Europe wants to help Ukraine, but it does so in such a way that Russia does not get angry. Europe wants to avoid this war knocking on the door of the rest of Europe’s citizens. Europe seeks to make war without really making it.

From Europe, this may seem like a smart strategy. Gradually crack down on Putin’s regime with sanctions and heavy shipments of high-tech weapons to Ukraine. Avoid sudden movements, so as not to provoke an escalation, particularly on the nuclear issue. Clear the way for a cornered dictator. Be ready to show him a way out in case he changes his mind.

But seen from Ukraine, this means nurturing the impunity of the aggressor. Every day of laissez-faire means death, injury, loss. It also means classes missed by our children due to power outages, weeks and months stolen from normal life.

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Putin has already lost the war against Ukraine

More importantly, with each day increases the likelihood that the conflict will expand rather than subside.

Just when it looked like Russia had lost its initiative for good, Iran entered the war with the sale of Shahed-136 drones. One of these drones had killed a young couple in their apartment in the center of Kyiv: they were expecting a baby, the young woman was in her sixth month of pregnancy. The risks of witnessing Belarus entering the war are also increasing, especially with the arrival of new Russian soldiers. In such a dynamic, each coming day could lead to an even greater war.

Putin needs a bigger war because he has already lost the war against Ukraine. A bigger war would give him a chance of victory. This is why Moscow is broadening the context of its war and seeking to draw others into its game. Putin is doomed but he wants to save himself in a larger alliance — by creating an axis of authoritarian countries.

Russia still believes that NATO will falter in a larger war because not all members of the Alliance will be ready to participate directly. In this context, other disagreements between NATO members could emerge.

With the incessant bombardments aimed at leaving Ukraine without electricity and heating, Russia is also seeking to induce the migration of Ukrainians to EU countries. This will inevitably lead to an economic and social crisis inside the EU.

This is why the desire of Western countries to act without irritating Russia too much, this desire to reduce the Russian-Ukrainian war to a conflict ” limit “, to prevent it from going beyond the borders of Ukraine, leads on the contrary to the widening of the conflict and to its prolongation. In this procrastination, the negative effects on the economy of European countries and social protests will only intensify.

The will to try to avoid a greater war leads to its opposite. While we want to contain the war, Russia is expanding it. By wanting to avoid a third world war, the West is only getting closer to it.

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“Because you can”

Why should Russia continue and escalate its war, against all reason?

Ukrainian doctor Yulia Paievska (Taira), a person of exemplary courage who had worked in Mariupol in March 2022, recently appeared before the United States Congress to testify. In her speech, she spoke of her captivity, between March and June 2022, the exacerbated cruelty of Russian soldiers, the months of abuse and humiliation she had to go through.

She says that one day her executioner asked her: “Why do you think we are doing this to you? ». Taïra’s answer was clear-cut: “Because you can”.

It says it all: Russia is waging war simply because it can. She will do it as long as she can. Faced with Russia, which is inflicting war on the heart of Europe simply because it can, we have no right to yield. We must do everything so that she cannot.

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The headings are editorial.

The festival A weekend in the east will take place from November 24 to 28 in Paris. More than a hundred guests in thirty places in the capital. All the program on: weekendalest.com

Tetyana Ogarkova, organic express

Tetyana Ogarkova is a lecturer at Mohyla University in Kyiv, doctor of letters from the University of Paris-XII Val-de-Marne, political scientist, journalist, head of the international department of the NGO Ukraine Crisis Media Center (https://uacrisis.org/en/internationaloutreach), co-host of the podcast Explaining Ukraine (https://soundcloud.com/user-579586558). She participated in the book “Ukraine. Heroes in spite of themselves” by Sébastien Gobert (Nevicata, 2022). She will launch with the philosopher Volodymyr Yermolenko on the occasion of the festival a series of podcasts “Ukraine facing the war”.

She will intervene:

Saturday, November 26 at 3 p.m. at the Polish Bookstore with Volodymir Yermolenko for the launch of their podcast “Ukraine in the face of war”.

Saturday, November 26 at 6 p.m. at the Espace des Femmes-Antoinette Fouque with Kateryna Babkina, Tetyana Ogarkova around “Women Facing War”.

Sunday, November 27 at 6 p.m. at the Théâtre de la Ville-Espace Pierre Cardin with Anne Colin-Lebdev, Constantin Sigov and Tetyana Ogarkova. Animation: Sandrine Treiner.

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