If the idea of truth, in the United States as elsewhere, seemed to have been lost in the disorienting bombardment of social media, with the line between fact and lie increasingly blurred, the enormity of Russian lies – the denial of the existence of a war, for example – seems to have done something to restore its value and importance.
“Who else but us?” said Zakhar Nechypor, a Ukrainian actor, as he armed himself with a gun. Who else indeed and what more raw truth?
Russo-Ukrainian war: what you need to know
A city is captured. Russian troops took control of Kherson, the first Ukrainian city to be defeated in the war. The overrun of Kherson is important because it allows the Russians to gain more control of the southern coast of Ukraine and to push west towards the city of Odessa.
Ivan Andronic, a plumber who moved from his native Moldova to France 18 years ago, said in an interview that he felt his mother and mother-in-law in Moldova were now in danger. Mr. Putin could do anything, even launch a nuclear war. “He is very dangerous,” Mr. Andronic said. “We must fight it together, and its own population must turn against it.”
Unity is a word that is experiencing a revival. The war in Ukraine seems to have started a cycle of growing loneliness in which Covid-19 played a large role. The unbearable lightness of being online has given way to the unbearable gravity of a European war.
A rift has occurred in the world where people are herded by social media algorithms, trolls and bots. Where they abandon the community to become tribes with megaphones. Where they turn in circles, succumbing to technological neuroticism. Especially where they become more solitary, caught in a whirlwind, hungry for connective tissue, hungry for status, often devoid of moral conviction.
In their place, suddenly, a struggle to the death presents itself with its moral imperatives. While Europe hesitated at the start, Donald Tusk, former Polish Prime Minister and President of the European People’s Party, tweeted:
“In this war, everything is real: Putin’s madness and cruelty, the Ukrainian casualties, the bombs falling on Kiev. Only your sanctions are feigned. Those EU governments, which blocked difficult decisions (eg Germany, Hungary, Italy) have dishonored themselves.
Very quickly, almost overnight, Europe did what it is rarely able to do. He united to put an end to this shame and face Mr. Putin.