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Departures Podcast with Ilya Ponomarev

The saber-rattling from Moscow over Ukraine has grown deafening in recent weeks. Hours before we recorded this episode, Vladimir Putin appeared on television threatening “retaliatory military-technical” measures while amassing some 175,000 troops on the border of Ukraine, asserting that Russia “has every right” to invade and start a war. Evelyn Farkas, a former Obama administration defense official, summarized the West’s response in a tweet “Putin just declared war on Ukraine (pretending it’s war against the US and its allies, provoked by us).”

To get some meaningful insight, we turn to our man in Kyiv, Ilya Ponomarev.

Ilya Ponomarev is a former member of the Russian Duma who most famously was the only member to vote against the annexation of Crimea – an act for which he was effectively expelled from the country. 

In this conversation with Robert Amsterdam, Ponomarev shares his views about the potential scenarios of a second Russian invasion, why he sees the human and military costs as forbiddingly too high, but how nevertheless we are living through an attempt by Putin to cement a legacy and upend the post-Cold War world order.