Gwendolyn Sasse, "Russia's War Against Ukraine" (Polity, 2023)


Nineteen months since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the books are coming thick and fast.

Fortunately, each tells a different and compelling story. Like other recent books, Gwendolyn Sasse’s Russia's War Against Ukraine (Polity, 2023) analyses three decades of diverging Russian and Ukrainian politics and society, burgeoning Russian neo-imperialism, and Western temerity.

Unique to this book, however, is the restoration of Crimea to centre-stage in the conflict. The war didn’t start in February 2022 when Russian and Ukrainian troops battled on the northern outskirts of Kyiv. It didn't even start in April 2014 when Ukrainian forces tried to retake Sloviansk. "Russia's war against Ukraine began with the annexation of Crimea on 27 February 2014,” writes Professor Sasse, and the signal it sent to secessionists in the Donbas. It may only be 69 years since the Soviet government assigned Crimea to Ukraine but, as she explains, Russia's claim to the peninsula is no stronger. Crimea threads through the book on post-Soviet Ukrainian and Russian histories, the war, and its potential aftermath.

Gwendolyn Sasse directs the Centre for East European and International Studies in Berlin and is a professor at Humboldt university. Before that, she was a professor of comparative politics at Oxford and taught at the Central European University and the London School of Economics. Her 2007 book - The Crimea Question - won the Alec Nove Prize for scholarly work in Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet studies.

*The author's own book recommendations are The Frontline: Essays on Ukraine’s Past and Present by Serhii Plokhy (Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 2021) and 100 Kinder: Kindersachbuch über den Alltag von Kindern auf der ganzen Welt by Christoph Drösser and Nora Coenenberg (Gabriel Verlag, 2019)

Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Advisors, who also writes the twenty4two newsletter on Substack and also hosts the In The Room podcast series.

Your Host

Tim Jones

Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Advisors .

View Profile