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Ukraine – A war’s different seasons

Article by Andra-Lucia Martinescu with contributions from Cătălina Moisescu and Antonina Naidis

December 12, 2022

Ukraine – A war’s different seasons

We commenced our research at the beginning of June, when virtually no news was transpiring from the occupied southern regions. By the time this analysis had been peer-reviewed and published, Kherson was liberated, a momentous military achievement for Ukraine. But before the Russian retreat from the city and the west bank of the Dnieper River, the campaign of terror turned to sustained attacks on critical infrastructures and the power grids, plunging the entire country (literally) into darkness. The insidiousness of this tactical approach becomes obvious as winter settles in, a war that seems to mold human tragedy into the passing of seasons: from food insecurity to lack of warmth, water, and electricity, and further displacement. In the central Liberty Square of Kherson locals gathered in a rare display of joy after eight and a half months of isolation. Makeshift memorials for the fallen and ‘the disappeared’ emerged across the city and villages, a landscape of hope and remembrance, amid the destruction and destitution left behind by occupation. In their withdrawal, Russian forces mined swathes of territory turning the city and region into a minefield of over 300,000sq km, which may take years to clear.[1] As demining efforts continue, the legacy of war in other parts of the world, former Yugoslavia for instance, may prove somewhat instructive. In Kosovo, Ukrainian teams receive training from local experts in defusing ordnance and clearing mines – a different war, similar mines.


In Odesa, the volunteers whom I interviewed also continue their relentless fight. Much like the country itself, where reconstruction efforts go side by side with the battles for liberation, Ukraine’s civil society strives for a reformed political future, less entrenched in the remnants of a corrupt post-Soviet transition, and more representative of their aspirations. This paper aims to depict the different facets of war: the whole-of-society approach to resilience, the vulnerable food chains in a geographical horn of plenty, as well as the human and environmental consequences of occupation.


The full paper can be accessed here.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the individual author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre.


Biographies of contributors:


Andra-Lucia is a Research Fellow with Foreign Policy Centre and Co-founder of The Diaspora Initiative. Andra is pursuing a part-time doctorate at University of Cambridge focusing on the history of geopolitics in the Black Sea area. Together with Catalina and Antonina they coordinate humanitarian affairs for Frontline.Live on Ukraine, an award-winning platform repurposed for humanitarian efforts. This set of analyses is based on extensive fieldwork and research on the ground, in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.


Cătălina Moisescu pursues doctoral studies at University of Fribourg focusing on separatism in the region with a focus on Transnistria. She also co-founded, The Diaspora Initiative, a migration research network. Catalina also carried out extensive fieldwork in the region, in the Republic of Moldova, Transnistria and Ukraine.


Antonina Naidis is Humanitarian coordinator for South Ukraine affiliated amongst others with Frontline.Live for Ukraine. She is a decorated civilian volunteer for the Ukrainian Army and Navy and awarded the highest presidential honours. Antonina kindly offered to contact other volunteers and assisted with translation from Ukrainian. She has also been interviewed for this analysis.


[1] Lorenzo Tondo and Isabel Koshiw, The Russians mined everything: why making Kherson safe could take years, The Guardian, November 2022,

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