Europe and Russia

What We Know and What We’re Doing About the War in Ukraine

December 16, 2022  • David K. Gibson

​​The war in Ukraine is not a regional conflict.

Russia’s incursion lies at the center of a complex web of geopolitics that reverberates around the world, creating crises of immigration, energy, and food supply, and upending international relations. It’s a multifaceted situation, which makes the Aspen Institute, with its wide range of policy and public programs, well-suited to make sense of it.

The Institute is uniquely suited for another reason: Aspen Institute Kyiv is a member of our international network of partners and has worked since 2015 to promote an open, democratic society in Ukraine. Though many of its employees have been displaced, Aspen Kyiv has continued its mission.

“We have seen firsthand the Aspen Kyiv team’s unwavering dedication to their values and optimism in the face of a brutal and senseless war,” says Jonathon Price, director of International Partners. “Since the beginning, the International Partners team has worked closely with Aspen Kyiv to care for the team’s unique needs by connecting them to our partners and creating a global web of support.”

Aspen Kyiv is regularly engaged in dialogue with other members of the International Partners network. Its leaders have addressed audiences at Institute events, and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy himself sat down for an interview that premiered at this summer’s Aspen Ideas Festival.

While the war in Ukraine is intractable, it is not incomprehensible. Institute experts and programs continue to offer insight and context as the conflict wears on.

Several Institute programs remain dedicated to addressing the war and its fallout. The Economic Strategy Group gathered a panel in June to discuss the country’s recovery and reconstruction. Later in the month, the Aspen Ideas Festival and Aspen Ideas: Health focused much of their programming on issues surrounding the war. The Institute’s International Partners held conversations regarding the potential for Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. These and other collections will grow as the conversations continue.

In the fall, the Institute brought Ukrainian mayors to CityLab in Amsterdam for a view into conditions on the ground. They talked about the devastation caused by Russian missile attacks on civilian targets and asked for support from the international community. Only minutes after the session featuring mayor Andriy Sadovyi of Lviv, his town was hit by another barrage of missiles.

The conflict has not gone as many had expected and has certainly not gone as some had planned. Everyone in the know had expected the digital assault to be more aggressive—or at least more effective—considering Russia’s history. At the Aspen Cyber Summit, experts discussed which cyber threats had and had not materialized, with an eye on preparing for cyber risk in the aftermath of the invasion.

More broadly, the uncertainty and instability have led to a galvanization within NATO and in the governments and populations of Finland and Sweden. The two long-time holdouts from the alliance are now well down the track of becoming members. At this month’s Aspen Security Forum, leaders from Finland, Sweden, Poland, and Germany discussed the reasoning behind this realignment and what it means for the future of Europe and the world.

As the war grinds on through the winter and beyond, the Aspen Institute will continue to offer knowledge, passion, and support to the people of Ukraine—and to deliver insight to the global community.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Institute created the tax-deductible Aspen Kyiv Crisis Fund, where staff, trustees, international partners, and others can donate to support our partner in Ukraine. The fund provides financial support to Aspen Kyiv staff, aids innovative programming related to the ongoing crisis, and is available for any humanitarian needs of the Aspen Kyiv staff as they arise.

Additionally, the Institute and Aspen Kyiv collaborated on Beast of War, Bird of Hope, a gallery of Ukrainian art on the Aspen Meadows campus in Colorado. The exhibit is curated by Alisa Lozhkina, an art historian and the former Deputy Director and Chief Curator at Mystetskyi Arsenal, the largest museum and exhibition complex in Ukraine. Almost entirely for sale, the artwork features various art mediums from 11 top contemporary Ukrainian artists created before and during the war with Russia. It includes two unique pieces by Maria Prymachenko, one of the most outstanding Ukrainian artists of the 20th century. Proceeds from all sales go to Aspen Kyiv and Ukrainian artists.

If you are interested in supporting Aspen Kyiv, consider donating to the crisis fund or purchasing artwork.

Beast of War, Bird of Hope: A Note from Curator Alisa Lozhkina
August 19, 2022 • Alisa Lozhkina