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LIVY BEREG (Left Bank) is a Ukrainian news analysis and opinion website media founded by the independent Gorshenin Institute in 2009.
A man with a black hoodie painting a portait of Geert Wilders
Oleksandr Demchenko

For Every Era, Its Own Fascism — This Is How Ours Is Starting To Look

Right-wing movements have surged in Europe, and fascism is on the ascendancy across disparate regions of the world. As populist leaders gain power, the specter of authoritarianism looms large.


Across the globe, worrying trends are emerging in both politics and society.

In the Netherlands, the Freedom Party, known for its anti-European, anti-Muslim, and anti-Ukrainian stance, recently won the national elections. In Argentina, newly elected president Javier Milei proposes an extreme solution to the economic crisis – destroying the central bank. Right-wing movements are gaining traction among young voters across Europe, seduced by neo-Nazi influences not seen since World War II.

China has long been operating concentration camps for Uyghur Muslims, while racism remains a major problem in Russia. Next year will witness a phalanx of critical elections worldwide, with over three billion people voting for new governments. Concerns over the potential rise of anti-democratic governments are growing in tandem.

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In this climate of deepening polarization and radicalization, many commentators have issued warnings about the free world losing ground to autocracy. But there's another underlying trend that's not being discussed directly enough: the shift towards fascism, itself. Left-wing radicalism, anti-immigrant sentiments, demographic challenges, and terrorism have all contributed to the rise of fascists camouflaged as populist dictators.

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Photo of a Hamas member next to a Russian-made rifle
FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Josef Rosen

How The Russia-Hamas Alliance Could Wind Up Undermining Both

Russia is largely discrediting itself as a viable leader in diplomacy after siding so plainly with Hamas.


For many years, Hamas was a welcomed guest in Moscow. The leaders of the terrorist organization, including Ismail Haniyeh, his deputies Saleh al-Aruri and Musa Abu Marzouk, regularly held meetings with senior Russian officials. In March of last year, the Russian Federation also hosted a delegation from the terrorist organization "Islamic Jihad."

On Oct. 27, a Hamas delegation paid a visit to Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his deputy Mikhail Bohdanov. During their visit, the militants expressed their gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin for his longstanding support and issued a call to the U.S. and Israel to cease hostilities in Gaza. They also announced their intention to locate eight hostages with Russian passports and secure their release, in exchange for weapons from the Russian Federation.

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Russia has previously been the victim of Sunni terrorism, including a hostage crisis at a Moscow theater in 2002, the 2004 school attack in Beslan claiming 330 lives, and the downing of a Russian plane by ISIS fighters in Egypt in 2015, in which 224 people died.

While Russia has officially designated groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Sunni terrorist organizations as such, Hamas, which has affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood, notably remains off that list. Why is this the case?

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Photo of Keren Schem mother of kidnapped Mia Schem
Emma Albright, Cameron Manley and Bertrand Hauger

Macron: "Intense" French Negotiations For Hostage Release After Video Of French-Israeli Captive

The 21-year-old French-Israeli woman was captured by Hamas at the music festival on Oct. 7 and brought to Gaza.

Updated October 17 at 18:20 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron said “intense discussions” are “advancing” to free hostages held by Hamas. The comments come after a French-Israeli hostage appeared in the first video released by Hamas of a captive since the Oct. 7 attack in Israel that included the capturing of scores of civilians in Israel.

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“I want to be very prudent here,” Macron said Tuesday, as quoted by Le Point magazine. “I’m not saying more, first of all, to not create expectations; and most of all to not endanger the intense discussions underway.” Macron added that French negotiators are in touch with both Israeli authorities and “powerful intermediary friends of Hamas.”

The remarks come after a top Hamas spokesman appeared in a video late Monday to address the ongoing hostage situation, saying that between 200 and 250 hostages are currently being held in Gaza. Abu Obayda, the spokesman for Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the' military wing of Hamas, said that hostages with a foreign passport are "our guests," who will be protected and released when conditions on the ground permit, Times of Israel is reporting.

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​File photo of a Ukrainian soldier, photographed from behind, looking at a battlefield in Ukraine
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Oleksandr Solonko

"Like Guerrilla War" — A Soldier's Dispatch From The Ukrainian Southern Front

Oleksandr Solonko, a military trooper and aerial scout, played an active role in combat operations in Bakhmut and later on the Zaporizhzhia front near Robotyne, where Ukraine is securing its breach of Russian defenses.

ROBOTYNE — Standing on the heights near Robotyne, one gazes upon the expansive steppe that stretches across the horizon. As far as the eye can see, the landscape is pockmarked with craters from mines, missiles, and bombs. Each new day brings another round of shelling, which makes the steppe look more and more like the lunar surface of the Moon.

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A horrible smell fills the air — a combination of debris, dead mice, trench rats, and the still un-retrieved corpses of Russian occupiers. In this putrid environment, one longs for a breath of fresh air.

The Russians had ample time to establish a heavily fortified defense in this region. What appears as mere centimeters on a map translates into kilometers of minefields, trenches, anti-tank ditches, and other obstacles intricately woven into the landscape.

We maneuver through meticulously chosen routes that the enemy recently abandoned and now monitor 24/7. The Russians are aware that we can move mostly forward and backward along these routes as the ground around them is littered with anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. It has reached the point where the Russians set explosives and traps even around their own positions, leaving only narrow paths to retreat through. We navigate trench lines, forest strips, and fields, all while the Russians relentlessly shell us.

The enemy also relentlessly tracks our units and equipment from the air, bombarding us with UAVs, swarming us with "Lancets," and steadily increasing the use of FPV drones. They have air superiority, more artillery power and more men.

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Photo of two IDF soldiers in full military gear during a mission
Ehud Levy*

The Oct. 7 Debacle: A First Deep Dive Into Israel's Intelligence Failures

The blind spots began appearing in the first hours and days after more than 1,200 civilians were slaughtered by Hamas terrorists, who breached the border from Gaza. A former Israeli military intelligence operative guides us through the mistakes that allowed it to happen.


Israel has been plunged into a conflict of unprecedented scale and intensity, mourning more than 1,200 civilian deaths and trying to save 150 or more hostages held in Gaza. At the conclusion of the ongoing conflict, which remains highly uncertain how it may unfold, Israel will need to conduct a thorough analysis to understand what went wrong in the national defense and intelligence sectors to allow the deadly attack to happen — and develop strategies for preventing anything similar in the future.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had a long-established defensive perimeter around Gaza, equipped with various means and technologies designed to prevent terrorist attacks or, at the very least, to provide early warning and primary protection prior to the arrival of air forces or mechanized infantry.

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This defense system includes both upper and lower fences, a touch-sensitive indicative upper fence, observation posts, fire-control positions, infantry bases housing tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry units. Additionally, self-defense units operate in populated areas, acting as the final line of defense between the civilian population and potential terrorist threats.

Despite these robust security measures, in the early hours of Saturday, October 7, hundreds of Hamas terrorists managed to breach the fence at multiple points, infiltrating IDF outposts with relative ease. They killed or captured all personnel present at these outposts.

Concurrently, another group of attackers dispersed and infiltrated dozens of communities. These individuals were well-trained, proficient in countermeasures, and clearly driven by the singular intent of capturing or killing Jewish residents.

The IDF was unprepared for such a concentrated and widespread incursion of hundreds of terrorists who simultaneously breached the perimeter at multiple locations. Some settlements were located mere hundreds of meters from the border, while others were several kilometers away.

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The Ukrainian President looks somber in his presidential office at his desk with a telephone in front of him.
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Cameron Manley

Why Zelensky Is Betting Everything On Ukraine's Support Of Israel

Equating the Hamas attack on Israel with the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a way to keep attention, and aid, coming for his nation's war. But the situations are quite different, and Zelensky's clear stance on the side of Israel risks losing both attention and support.


The surprise Hamas attack on Israel has sparked a major war in the Middle East, and shifted global attention away from Ukraine for the first time since February 2022.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has not hidden his fear that the developments in the Middle East could threaten military support for Ukraine, making a surprise visit to Brussels on Wednesday where NATO defense ministers were meeting. “I want to be honest with you: Of course it is a dangerous situation for people in Ukraine,” he told reporters at his first visit to NATO headquarters since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The sudden focus on the Middle East comes as doubts were already rising about so-called "war fatigue" among Western allies, including political instability in Poland and Republicans in the U.S. Congress threatening to cut off aid for Kyiv. “If there are other tragedies in the world, there is only a certain amount of military support to share," Zelensky said. "And Russia hopes that support will be divided.”

Aware that there is little prospect of a quick war in Gaza, and the world's attention swinging fully back to Ukraine, Zelensky has apparently made a clear choice to pick a side in the Middle East. He has compared the Israeli victims of the Hamas terror attack with Ukrainians targeted by the Russian invaders.

While there are innocent lives lost in both cases, and the Western coalition is currently being united in Israel's favor as it's done for Ukraine, it's unclear if the comparison will work to Zelensky's favor in the long run.

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Photo of Israeli police officers taking cover behind a wall during a rocket attack from Gaza
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Kyrylo Danylchenko

Battlefield Lessons For Ukraine From The Hamas Attack Against Israel

From preparing for the complexity of urban warfare to addressing technological vulnerabilities and gaining self-reliance in military production, the unfolding crisis in Israel has a number of critical messages for Ukraine.

Updated Oct. 12 at 7:15 p.m.


KYIV — Last weekend, Israel, a nation with an annual defense budget exceeding $16 billion, found itself successfully penetrated and attacked by light infantry units.

The Middle Eastern country experienced one of the deadliest days in its history, with more than 1,200 people killed, and 150 taken hostage. Israeli settlements fell under enemy control, a situation not witnessed since 1973. Ukrainian news site Livy Bereg, which has been chronicling Russia's full-fledged invasion of Ukraine for nearly two years, believes the events of the weekend should serve as a significant point of interest for the people, leaders and soldiers of Ukraine.

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The Palestinian attackers launched a coordinated assault on a network of checkpoints and border towers in Gaza. They employed a range of tactics to stretch Israel's defenses, including breaching the mesh fence using explosives, cutting tools, and armored excavators. They used motorcycles, buggies, and jeeps, and even took to the skies with hang gliders and motorized paragliders. They also launched attacks from the sea using speed boats.

The Israeli fleet performed relatively well, destroying several boats and thwarting an amphibious assault on Zakim Beach by combat swimmers and special forces.

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Photo of a Ukrainian tank with Ukrainian flag
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Kyrylo Danylchenko

Ukraine's Counteroffensive: A Breakthrough Across The "Surovikin Line"

The area around Robotyne, in southeastern Ukraine, has been the centre of a fierce two-month battle. Ukrainian publication Livy Bereg breaks down how Ukrainian forces were able to exploit gaps in Russian defenses and push the counteroffensive forward.

Updated October 2, 2023 at 6:25 p.m.

ROBOTYNE — Since the fall of 2022, Russian forces have been building a series of formidable defensive lines in Ukrainian territory, from Vasylivka in the Zaporizhzhia region to the front in Vremivka in the Donetsk region.

These defenses combined high-density minefields, redoubts (fortified structures like wooden bunkers, concrete fortifications and buried granite blocks), as well as anti-tank ditches and pillboxes. Such an extensive and intricate defensive network had not been seen in Europe since World War II.

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Spanning 130 kilometers (81 miles), this formidable barrier earned the name "Surovikin Line," after the former commander of Russia's aerospace forces. The region around Robotyne became the epicenter of a fierce two-month battle, garnering significant attention due to its pivotal position on the front, since the launch of Ukraine's counteroffensive late last spring.

Despite the formidable defense, the Russian forces eventually crumbled. After two months of intense fighting, the Russia retreated this week to the south of Robotyne and began constructing new defenses along the nearby forested areas and the outskirts of Novoprokopivka in the Zaporizhia region.


At the same time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine exploited the breakthrough by capturing Vervovoy, expanding their breach to the east rather than just to the south. Their next target was the critical Ocheretuvate defense node.

The Russians lacked motivated infantry to support their extensive network of defensive structures.

East of the village, Ukrainian Defense Forces managed to break through the "Surovikin Line" set up by Russian forces. This highlighted a key weakness in the Moscow's war – the lack of motivated infantry support for their extensive network of defensive structures.

The Russians had relied on artillery bombardment, drones and anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launches to keep Ukrainian forces at bay. These tactics proved effective while fighting from the heights around Robotyne.

But eventually, the 82nd Ukrainian brigade surrounded the village using Strykers — wheeled U.S.-built infantry fighting vehicles — and the 47th brigade took on the Russian forces in frontal assaults — and the Russians began to crumble.

One significant factor contributing to the Russian retreat was the lack of infantry support for their elaborate defensive infrastructure. While they used ATGM teams, drone operators, and concealed artillery positions effectively, they could not maintain a continuous line of motivated infantry along the entire Surovikin Line. This vulnerability allowed Ukrainian forces to exploit the gaps in the defense.

To address these gaps, the Russians resorted to Ka-52 attack aircraft, Su-25 attack aircraft and other measures in a desperate attempt to bolster their defense. But without support of motivated infantry, this ultimately proved unsustainable.

photo of markers on land in ukraine

The Surovikin line in southern Ukraine

Livy Bereg

Slow progress

The extended duration of the Ukrainian counteroffensive led to questions about its pace, with some Western observers expressing impatience. But the density of the conflict, akin to World War II, and the small size of the battlefield complicated matters.

Both sides deployed fewer than 100,000 troops in a limited area, making it a challenging engagement, even without the extensive minefields and concrete fortifications.

The defending Russian units posed a formidable challenge. Moscow's special forces also functioned as line infantry, demonstrating a willingness to use battle-hardened specialists to hold off the counteroffensive.

While Robotyne itself lacked significant fortifications, the surrounding high grounds were fortified with concrete-filled underground positions and pillboxes, making it a tough nut to crack. The battle exacted a heavy toll in terms of casualties.

The defending Russian units posed a formidable challenge

Despite these defenses, the Ukrainian forces managed to advance with the aid of Western gear, equipped with anti-mine protection and additional armor. The offensive succeeded in capturing key positions and expanding the bridgehead around Robotyne.

The ongoing pressure along the road near Novopokrovka and the widening of the bridgehead south of the village continued to isolate Russian defenses. Skilled use of excavating machines to create passages, coupled with effective air defense management and artillery fire, contributed to the Ukrainian advance. Counter-battery fire neutralized enemy artillery positions, while key enemy personnel and infrastructure suffered losses.

Still, it was evident that the Russian defense would not collapse entirely, as they withdrew to newly engineered positions and deployed reserves, including rifle battalions, as well as artillery and drones.

Latest Russian attacks from across the Surovikin Line

A crucial victory, but far from over

Despite these challenges, the offensive continued, and the strategic initiative largely favored the Ukrainian forces. The situation remained dynamic, with heavy battles continuing in the south. The proximity to key strategic objectives, such as the land route to Crimea and Melitopol, highlights the significance of these ongoing operations.

The complex terrain and logistical considerations made this a critical theater in the conflict, demanding persistence and adaptability from Ukrainian forces.

The conflict in the Zaporizhzhia region, characterized by intricate defenses and fierce battles, demonstrates the determination and resilience of both sides. While the Ukrainian counteroffensive made progress, the formidable Russian defenses showed that the conflict was far from over.

What is the Surovikin line?

The Surovikin line is a Russian system of defensive fortifications that spans 130 kilometers (81 miles), and runs through Russian-occupied territory in southern and eastern Ukraine. It was constructed in reaction to Ukraine’s late summer counteroffensive of 2022.

Who is Sergei Surovikin?

The Surovikin line is named after Russian Army General Sergei Surovikin, who oversaw the construction of the defensive barriers. Surovikin was a celebrated general, known among supporters as ‘General Armageddon’, and was Russia’s overall theater commander in the fall of 2022. He was replaced in January and was then detained after the Wagner group’s mutiny of late June due to his ties to the military organization.

When did Ukraine's counteroffensive start?

There has been some debate about the starting date of the Ukrainian counteroffensive to retake territory in southern and eastern Ukraine. Yet most agree that the major operation was officially launched in June 2023. Some military sources have argued that the effort may have actually started in early 2023, and even the final weeks of 2022. For example, in the late summer of 2022 Ukraine launched the Kherson and Kharkiv counter offensives, retaking 500 settlements and 12,000 km2 (4633 square miles) in the process. In 2023, planning for a major counteroffensive began in January and was supposed to take place in Spring, but it was ultimately delayed. Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in early June, which had the long term goal of breaching the Russian frontlines and reconquering .