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The threat to Ukraine’s survival from within

Zelensky: grappling with corruption. Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP/Getty

Those who stand firmly behind Ukraine are starting to worry about “the fatigue of the West”, says Slavoj Žižek in The New Statesman. “But a more serious case concerns Ukraine itself.” It’s not just the “burdens of war” wearing people down – fighting through relentless aerial bombardments with “no end in sight” – but “serious ideological and political mistakes” made by Volodymyr Zelensky and his government. For a start, there are endless privileges for the oligarchs, most of whom have fled the country and organised for their children to be exempted from military service. Then there’s the corruption: Zelensky recently announced he was dismissing the heads of all the regional military recruitment offices, after a state investigation turned up widespread graft.

There’s also a growing split between poorer liberals – many of whom have volunteered and are now on the front line – and the “conservative nationalism” of the rich. The former view government initiatives like banning works by Russian composers as trivial and “futile”. The plight of the popular documentary maker Sergei Loznitsa, who was effectively banned from returning to Ukraine for his refusal to boycott Russian films, is indicative of the warped priorities of “conservative cultural bureaucrats”. Another long-running issue is sexism – women volunteering for military service frequently complain that they are stigmatised and treated badly by male colleagues. Ukraine is fighting on two fronts: against Russian aggression, and over “what sort of country it will be after the war”.