EP 243 Yaroslav Trofimov on Ukraine’s War of Independence

Jim talks with Yaroslav Trofimov about his new book Our Enemies Will Vanish: The Russian Invasion and Ukraine’s War of Independence. They discuss the reporting that went into the book, Yaroslav’s connection to Ukraine, a brief history of Ukraine, the Golden Horde’s conquering of modern-day Ukraine, Russia’s inheritance of the Tatar-Mongol state, Ukraine’s brief period of independence at the end of WWI, the complexity of Ukrainian identity, the Orange Revolution, the Maidan Revolution & its outcome, a period of low-intensity conflict, what caused full-scale war to break out, how Putin drank his own kool-aid, his expectation that there would be little resistance, the widespread underestimation of Ukraine, Russia’s initial thrusts, the pivotal battle at Hostomel Airfields, the Bucha massacre, the negotiations in Istanbul, the siege at Mariupol, what made the Ukrainians so tough, the role of Zelensky in inspiring the resistance & rallying international support, the Russian drought, the counter-offensives of August-September 2022, the Republican party’s stalling of aid to Ukraine, the arguments for supporting aid, Yaroslav’s prognosis, possible endgames, the likelihood of a frozen conflict, and much more.

Yaroslav Trofimov is the author of three books of narrative non-fiction and one novel. He has worked around the world as a foreign correspondent of The Wall Street Journal since 1999, and has served as the newspaper’s chief foreign-affairs correspondent since 2018. Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting in 2023, for his work on Ukraine, and in 2022, for his work on Afghanistan. His honors include an Overseas Press Club award for coverage of India as well as the Washington Institute gold medal for the best book on the Middle East. His latest non-fiction book, Our Enemies Will Vanish, was a finalist of the 2024 Orwell Prize.