Wars are breaking out across the imperial periphery as Russia is defeated in Ukraine.
This week, Azerbaijan attacked Armenia, striking its sovereign territory—a clear repudiation of the “peacekeeping” efforts masterminded by Russia in the aftermath of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. As it is attacked, Armenia has plaintively appealed for Russian aid—aid which is not forthcoming.
Overnight, it seems as if a new war might have broken out in Europe. Armenian authorities claim that at least 49 soldiers have been killed in fighting with Azerbaijan at their disputed border. A new conflict would be a tragedy and a waste. But it would also signal something else: the collapse of Russia’s global empire as it is defeated in Ukraine, and the shaking of the kaleidoscope this will inevitably cause.
Almost every night in Russia, it seems, a government building bursts into an unexplained fire. Fuel depots, office buildings, infrastructure hubs — and once a bridge. No doubt people have their theories. Insinuation abounds. ‘Karma is a cruel thing,’ one Ukrainian official has said on Telegram. But in the main, both the Russian government and Ukraine maintain an eloquent silence.
Each year we mark Holocaust Memorial Day, an anniversary that has increasingly become a rallying point against genocide in the abstract as well as in the specific. This year, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and a number of other faith and interfaith organisations used the occasion to decry China’s ongoing genocide against the Uighur minority, who have been confined in their millions in re-education-cum-work camps, forcibly sterilised, and impressed into a system of slave labour for which we have increasingly incontrovertible evidence.
Review – The Russian Origins of the First World War by Sean McMeekin
The First World War is hardly a novel subject for serious historical study. Its origins in particular, in the same way the end of the Roman Republic and the creation of an empire captures the attention of scholars and general readers, demands attention; it is both a vital, epoch-defining event and a perfect encapsulation of something deeper – and such a suggestion is highly attractive, not only to those who seek to discover (or invent) cast iron laws of history, but to anyone seeking a more crystalline understanding of the past. Continue reading →