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LIVY BEREG
LIVY BEREG (Left Bank) is a Ukrainian news analysis and opinion website media founded by the independent Gorshenin Institute in 2009.
Leaders of CSTO member states
Geopolitics
Oleksandr Demchenko

One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

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Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

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Photo of Vladimir Putin entering through a door in Grand Kremlin Palace 2022
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Sergiy Gromenko*

When Did Putin "Turn" Evil? That's Exactly The Wrong Question

Look back over the past two decades, and you'll see Vladimir Putin has always been the man revealed by the Ukraine invasion, an evil and sinister dictator. The Russian leader just managed to mask it, especially because so many chose to see him as a typically corrupt and greedy strongman who could be bribed or reasoned with.

-OpEd-

KYIV — The world knows that Vladimir Putin has power, money and mistresses. So why, ask some, wasn't that enough for him? Why did he have to go start another war?

At its heart, this is the wrong question to ask. For Putin, military expansion is not an adrenaline rush to feed into his existing life of luxury. On the contrary, the shedding of blood for the sake of holding power is his modus operandi, while the fruits of greed and corruption like the Putin Palace in Gelendzhik are more like a welcome bonus.

In the last year, we have kept hearing rhetorical questions like “why did Putin start this war at all, didn't he have enough of his own land?” or “he already has Gelendzhik to enjoy, why fight?” This line of thinking has resurfaced after missile strikes on Ukrainian power grids and dams, which was regarded by many as a simple demonstration of terrorism. Such acts are a manifestation of weakness, some ask, so is Putin ready to show himself weak?

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However, you will not arrive at the correct answer if the questions themselves are asked incorrectly. For decades, analysts in Russia, Ukraine, and the West have been under an illusion about the nature of the Russian president's personal dictatorship.

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Destroyed building Kharkiv
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Ivanna Skyba-Yakubova

Missiles And Euphoria: The Folly Of War On Full Display In Kharkiv

As Ukraine's counter-offensive gathers steam, the city of Kharkiv is targeted by Putin's forces. Here's a view from up close, during heavy shelling that has sparked power and water outrages, even as the liberation of territory sets off scenes of joy and elation.

KHARKIV — For several years, a woman has been sitting on the corner of my street selling flowers almost every day. On Sep. 9, our neighborhood was shelled for the first time – and have no doubt that an hour and a half after the missile hit our street, she was sitting right there in her usual place. People were cleaning up broken glass and cutting tree branches 50 meters from her. Some came to buy flowers.

In some way, this is all you need to know about life right now in Kharkiv.

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We are hostages of geography: the time it takes for the missile to reach Kharkiv from Belgorod, Russia, as air defense officers tell us, is 43 seconds. None of our existing defense systems are able to prevent their arrival in our neighborhood.

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Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk in May 2022
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Volodymyr Horbulin and Valentin Badrak

Russia's Next New Strategy: Try To Stall Until 2023

Russia's progress on the frontline has stalled. But without weapons promised by the West, Ukraine has not been able to carry out decisive counteroffensives. The West's indecisiveness risks the war being dragged out until next year — which is exactly what Putin wants.

-Analysis-

KYIV — For about a month, the front line has remained almost unchanged. Russian troops have gone as far as they can.

Obviously, this situation annoys the Kremlin, forcing it to look for new, rather unconventional ways to replenish human reserves and worn-out weapons. But Moscow is also playing for time, believing that the onset of cold weather will play into its hands, as an impending energy crisis spreads through Europe.

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Moreover, Putin needs time to restore the Russian army’s ability to fight. For this very reason, a day after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a deliberate slowdown in the military campaign in Ukraine, purportedly to reduce civilian casualties, Putin issued a decree to increase the size of the Russian army.

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​UK Prime Minister Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street on Sept. 7
Ideas
Maria Oleksa Yeschenko

Why Ukrainians Have Real Doubts About Liz Truss

Britain's new prime minister has not hidden the fact that she is focused on the domestic economic crisis gripping her country. That could sway her from the hardline anti-Russia stance of outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson. Also, Truss has flip-flopped before.

-Analysis-

KYIV — Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, then Foreign Minister Liz Truss took the same strict line as her former boss Boris Johnson. The words "push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine" belong to her.

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Now that Truss is British Prime Minister, will her actions be as decisive as her words? A great advantage for Ukraine is that Truss has been keeping her finger on the pulse of international politics for a year in her role as head of the UK foreign ministry. This can, for example, significantly simplify and speed up all subsequent decisions on increasing military aid.

In July, she also said that the UK "will do everything possible to ensure Ukraine wins the war and recovers. We need to be in this for the long haul."

And yet ...

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Putin in wheat field
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Oleksandr Decyk, Christian Putsch

Overselling The Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal Is One More Putin Scam

Moscow and Kyiv reached a much hailed accord in July to allow transport of Ukrainian agricultural output from ports along the Black Sea. However, analysis from Germany's Die Welt and Ukraine's Livy Bereg shows that it has done little so far to solve the food crisis, and is instead being used by Putin to advance his own ambitions.

-Analysis-

Brokered by Turkey on July 22, the Grain Deal between Russia and Ukraine ensured the export of Ukrainian agricultural products from the country's largest sea ports. Exports by sea of grains and oilseeds have been increasing. Optimistic reports, featuring photos of the first deliveries to Africa, are circulating about how the risk of a global food crisis has been averted.

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But a closer look shows a different story. The Black Sea ports are not fully opened, which will impact not only Ukraine. The rest of the world can expect knock-on effects, including potentially hunger for millions. Indeed, a large proportion of the deliveries are not going to Africa at all.

As with other reported "breakthroughs" in the war, Vladimir Putin has other objectives in mind — and is still holding on to all his cards.

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Poster of Russia's President Vladimir Putin in ​Warsaw
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Irina Subota

Winter Is Coming: Breaking Down Russian Propaganda Across Europe

Hit by EU sanctions, Russia is working hard to spread its own propaganda through neighboring countries. A new study breaks down exactly what that disinformation campaign is saying — and whether it's working.

-Analysis-

KYIV — One of the main narratives of Russian propaganda in recent years can be summed up as: "Russia is a global power and the West must respect it." Yet since the beginning of the invasion, the European Union has imposed a series of sanctions against Russia.

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In light of this clash, Moscow's propaganda in the West has taken four different and distinct lines: "The future of the EU will be cold and hungry...," "the EU shot itself in the foot...," "the U.S. economy is also suffering, and is now looking for ways to resume business with Russia...," and "sanctions do not harm Russia, they only make it stronger."

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Photo of Ukrainian soldiers standing during a presentation of medals by President Volodymyr Zelensky on the frontlines in the Dnipropetrovsk region
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Volodymyr Horbulin

The Ukraine War Has Reached A Stalemate — So What Happens Now?

It's been more than 150 days of Putin's relentless invasion, and a clear-eyed view of the war now is neither side is winning. This will make bold decisions by Ukraine's allies essential to any hope for victory.

KYIV — The Ukrainian army received high-precision long-range artillery systems on July 18, prompting the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi to declare that after the occupation of the eastern cities of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk, the Armed Forces had managed to stabilize the situation.

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In fact, a better way to characterize the situation is that we've been in a stalemate since June. The enemy is no longer able to actively attack, and the defenders cannot yet counter-attack.

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