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Departures Podcast: From the frontlines of Kyiv with Ilya Ponomarev, Dispatch #2

We last checked in with former Russian lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev about a month ago, as the Russian military began its invasion of Ukraine. Now, with things looking much different and many things not going to plan, we check back in for Dispatch #2 from inside Ukraine.

Ponomarev, who was forced into self-exile from Russia following his solitary vote against the annexation of Crimea, has spent years living in Kyiv supporting governance efforts and leading new ventures. As someone who has directly interacted with Vladimir Putin and who has an intimate knowledge of the government’s functioning and processing, his analysis of the current situation is both important and alarming.

According to Ponomarev, Putin is a “dead man walking,” without option to escape his current predicament, but this of course still makes him very dangerous.

On the disastrous decisionmaking which led to the invasion, Ponomarev points out the Covid-19 pandemic as having severely narrowed Putin’s available sources of information, leading him to depend on just two of his most hawkish advisors and relying on numerous low-quality history books which he has frequently cited in statements to media.

What direction will the war take from here? What can be the possible negotiated outcomes? Amsterdam and Ponomarev discuss in detail.