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Good morning, this is Michelle. As the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion approaches, debates over Ukraine’s future are back at the forefront.

To understand what lies ahead, we spoke to writer and longtime Moscow reporter Owen Matthews about what drove Vladimir Putin to invade and what could either end the fighting or trigger an escalation.

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Michelle Langrand


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British writer and journalist Owen Matthews at La Société de Lecture on 15 January, 2024. (Courtesy of La Société de Lecture)

Nearly two years ago, on 24 February 2022, millions of Ukrainians woke up to the sounds of sirens as bombs rained down on Kyiv and Russian forces crossed into Ukraine from north, east and south. Much of the world stood in disbelief as it watched Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II unfold.

Since then, 10,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, on top of hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides. The world economy has taken a blow, and the geopolitical cards have been reshuffled.

Behind it all is a man who, however loathed in the West, will remain the main protagonist – or antagonist – of the story of Ukraine’s invasion.

In his 2023 book, Overreach: the Inside Story of Putin’s War Against Ukraine, British author Owen Mathews dissects the Russian leader’s persona and his impenetrable entourage as he retraces the first hours and days of the invasion, as well as the years of political miscommunication that led up to it in the first place.

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