What you (probably) don’t know about Ukraine

There is so much writing about Ukraine these days. For good reasons. The threats from Putin’s Russia could lead to war.

I asked myself what I could add to help understand that conflict. Thinking about it, I realised that I know very little about the basics and Ukraine’s history. Maybe you feel the same.

So I’ve put together some facts I hadn’t known before delving into preparing for writing this post. Even if the following points have nothing to do directly with the current situation, they might be a bit enlightening. Because as always: knowing the past helps to understand the present.

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Is Milorad Dodik a secessionist?

When I was in my early twenties, the Bosnian War dominated the daily news. Horrible pictures of people fleeing snipers in Sarajevo, in Srebrenica. 

When peace returned (at least on paper) in the mid-1990s, my attention on the region disappeared. To be honest: Until a few months ago I would probably not have found the Republika Srpska on a nameless map. Republika Srpska is one of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the other is the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The region is back in global public because of one man: Milorad Dodik

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How powerful is the EU presidency?

A certain topic pops up in the news at regular intervals. That is the EU presidency. Mostly it is on the news when the presidency changes (it does every six months). Like now, when France took over from Slovenia at the beginning of this year (and got most of the attention for removing an EU flag from the Arc de Triomphe after causing a stir). But what actually happens in the meantime? Does the EU presidency matter for the European Union?

How important is the presidency for the European Union?

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A better plan: How to spend the money from the EU’s recovery plan

Which tasks do we need the European Union for? The short answer is: We need the European Union to produce those public goods that extend beyond the nation state Infrastructure can be such a good. If one country builds a cross-border railway line, its residents benefit from it. But not only theirs: the people in whose country the train route leads, benefit too. Though, since only the benefits of the building country’s population (voters) are regularly included in political decisions, too few cross-border train routes are built.

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Should nuclear power and gas be classified as green energies? There is a better way

The EU commission wants to classify both nuclear and gas as “green” investments. On the evening of New Year’s Eve, the commission had sent member states a draft of its awaited so-called “taxonomy” list, laying out a classification system that determines which energy sources can be labelled green for investment purposes. What would the consequences of such classification be?

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​​Cheaper and faster: How the EU Commission wants to make cross-border train travel more attractive

There are two options to get more Europeans on the train and to fly less. Option number one: make flying less attractive. Option number two: make rail travel more attractive.

The history of railroads in Europe is the history of national railways and national railroad companies. Every country built up its own routes. Naturally, if the country was bigger, the distances were longer; if the country was small, the distances were short. There were few cross-border rails.

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