The road to Ukraine: has the West lost its way?

Battle of Ideas festival 2022, Saturday 15 October, Church House, London


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world and upended many assumptions about how international politics operates. Contrary to the claim that wars are not supposed to happen in Europe or that we live in the era of the End of History, does a major war breaking out in Europe suggest that old conflicts are not as dead as many assumed?

In a new book, sociologist Frank Furedi argues that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed how the West attempted to ignore the importance of History – leaving it confused and unprepared to deal with the current crisis. Fashionable claims about the irrelevance of borders and of nation states were, he argues, exposed as shallow myths.

Were Western countries caught unprepared by Russia’s invasion, and if so, why? Some argue that a focus on globalisation – which was supposed to bring the world closer together – blinded many to the reality that historical disagreements and long-simmering tensions continue to shape global politics. Others note that the culture wars over history – with many hoping to do away with the ‘bad old days’ of the past – contributed to a climate where the past is no longer taken seriously. If borders and nation states still need to be taken seriously, how can countries offer solidarity to others?

Does the Ukraine crisis have its roots deep in the past? Have Western societies forgotten the importance of history? What can be done to reclaim a sense of historical thinking without becoming slaves to the past? Join this discussion with the author of The Road to Ukraine: how the West lost its way (Buy this book on Amazon here).


Mary Dejevsky
former foreign correspondent in Moscow, Paris and Washington; special correspondent in China; writer and broadcaster

Professor Frank Furedi
sociologist and social commentator; author, The Road to Ukraine: how the West lost its way and 100 Years of Identity Crisis: culture war over socialisation

Konstantin Kisin
satirist; podcaster, TRIGGERnometry; author, An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the West


Jacob Reynolds
partnerships manager, Academy of Ideas