Derek talks to The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum about Zelensky’s global appeal, the roots of Putin’s lust for empire, and Ukraine’s prospects for victory. Part of their conversation is excerpted below.
Derek Thompson: I want to talk about your most recent article in The Atlantic, which is run under the headline “Ukraine Must Win.” You write, “That goal should not be a truce, or a muddle, or a decision to maintain some kind of Ukrainian resistance over the next decade, or a vow to ‘bleed Russia dry,’ or anything else that will prolong the fighting and the instability. That goal should be a Ukrainian victory.” What does Ukrainian victory look like to you?
Anne Applebaum: Ukrainian victory is not hard to imagine. Ukrainian victory means Ukraine remains a sovereign democracy. It gets to choose its own government—[President Volodymyr] Zelensky for now, but at the next elections it might be someone else. It means that it gets to have its own foreign policy and it gets to decide to be part of Europe if it wants to be part of Europe. Around the edges, there might be some conversation. There might be border changes. There might be promises Ukrainians make, but that’s up to the Ukrainians. You know, there could be some deal that ends the war. If they wanna make that deal, that’s their decision.
DT: In the last few weeks, I feel like there’s been a slow, creeping realization that Russia isn’t just failing its initial objective, but that Ukraine might actually win this war in a meaningful way. Why did you think it was important to call for outright Ukrainian victory?
AA: Mainly I wrote that article because I felt like in Washington there had been this feeling, you know, certainly up until the last week or so, that one way or another, this is gonna end badly. We’re talking about supporting a Ukrainian resistance for the next decade, something like that. The idea that Ukraine might actually win, that the Russians might actually withdraw and they might actually keep their country and keep their government is only just now beginning to dawn on people. I wanted to drive home that point—and not only that, but also to make the point that it is really very much in our interests for that to happen.
Host: Derek Thompson
Guest: Anne Applebaum
Producer: Devon Manze