I know that most people reading this newsletter are highly informed. But lately, I've been a little surprised by how little people in my life in the U.S., even close friends, know about the origins of the war in Ukraine and what Russia wants in the country.
Someone in a bar recently said they thought the conflict was about Russia's ability to ship gas to Europe, at which point I had to explain the history of the NordStream 2 pipeline and why the war was actually going to impede Russia's ability to sell its resources internationally (I am fun on the weekends, I swear!).
Last night I rewatched Winter on Fire on Netflix and had to explain to the person with me all about Ukraine's history starting from the Orange Revolution in 2004.
I guess it's naive of me to think that everyone and their mother was obsessing over the Euromaidan in 2014 as much as I was, or as much as my friends in Tbilisi, Georgia, where I lived at the time, were obsessing over it. I suppose it all feels different when it's a place and region that you're deeply connected to and a history you've been watching and reading about for almost two decades.
The truth is that, despite being hyper-aware that my interests are a little odd by American standards, sometimes I forget that everyone isn't interested in the things I care about. That is obviously my bad.
But my point, I suppose, is that there is a lot of bad information out there, and it's easy to check out and stop caring about a conflict when you don't know what is at stake, not just for Ukraine but for the world.
Just a few years ago, I heard smart people in Washinton D.C. dismiss the debate over whether to provide Ukraine with javelins as a trivial foreign policy discussion for "the Blob," instead of a crucial conversation about how best to push back on a tyrant trying to remake international rules and norms.
So this weekend, I'm asking you to educate those close to you about Ukraine. Because I know the people who read this newsletter can probably do that and do it well. If you need help, here are a few explainers.
VOX.com, February 23: The increasingly complicated Russia-Ukraine crisis, explained.
CNN, February 28: What does Putin want in Ukraine? The conflict explained
The New York Times, March 11: The Roots of the Ukraine War: How the Crisis Developed.
If you don't find these explainers are enough, please just let me know and I can put together a LAZO LETTERS explainer sometime in the next few weeks.
Alternatively, if you have questions about Ukraine, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (admittedly, it sometimes takes me a while to check that email address), and I will do my best to answer your questions. Maybe I will post the responses here later so others can read them.
For those of you who want to watch it, Netflix is airing Ukrainian President Zelensky's popular television show Servant of the People in the U.S.
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