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Review of Putin Vs the West: Is There Really a War? - Did Liz Truss Actually Leave Her Own Office?
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Review of Putin Vs the West: Is There Really a War? – Did Liz Truss Actually Leave Her Own Office?


When a catastrophe is imminent, leaders in the western world engage in discussions. They organize meetings and summits, communicate through their UN representatives, and have private conversations with their top advisors. Afterwards, they address the public to inform us of the current situation, but the cycle does not stop there. In recent times, particularly if the issue involves Russia, these leaders, diplomats, and advisors – along with their Russian counterparts – meet with documentary filmmaker Norma Percy after two or three years to reveal the true events.

This is the main idea behind Percy’s captivating series, Putin Vs the West, which focuses on the tense eight years preceding Russia’s takeover of Ukraine. In a two-part addition titled “At War,” the unimaginable has occurred. Despite the serious topic, Percy continues to demonstrate her skill in portraying diplomacy as a chaotic and comical game of deception and drama.

We kick off at a global security summit in Munich that occurred prior to the start of the war. Ukraine, anticipating the events, pleads with western countries to provide or, if not possible, sell them military equipment for self-defense. However, the initial promises are not very impressive. “At the beginning, the Germans proposed 5,000 helmets,” jokes Oleksiy Danilov, the leader of Ukraine’s national security council. “We were certainly appreciative.”

At a tense gathering of the United Nations Security Council, convened to dissuade Russia from invading, a moment occurs that could easily be mistaken for a scene in an Armando Iannucci comedy rather than reality: all individuals in the room are suddenly drawn to their vibrating phones, alerting them to the breaking news of Russia’s invasion.

Afterwards, the narrative revolves around the sensitive debates regarding the timing and method of providing arms to Ukraine, taking into account the widespread reluctance to initiate a third global conflict. There are also discussions on when and how to impose economic sanctions, complicated by the potential vulnerabilities of certain countries, such as Germany’s dependence on Russian gas and the UK’s hosting of Russian oligarchs. Additionally, considerations are made for strategic actions by NATO.

In a series where politicians reveal their intentions and we rely on their words, the final one is not closely examined. However, the intricate scope of global affairs is effectively presented in a captivating storyline. As always, Percy’s lineup of interviewees, including Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is highly impressive. The only notable names missing are Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

The show’s ability to feature prominent politicians from various countries can sometimes disrupt the immersion for British viewers. It serves as a reminder that during these serious times, our government is made up of individuals who, in the words of Logan Roy from Succession, are not very serious. As the situation in Ukraine unfolded, we are informed that the British prime minister held urgent discussions with his foreign policy advisors. But it turns out to be Boris Johnson, who starts off by jokingly mentioning how he responded to news of the incursion by using profane language about Putin.

In February 2022, Britain’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, made an unexpected appearance, causing the value of the enterprise to decline even further. Her statements about not giving in to absurd Russian propaganda regarding the people of Donbas asking for help are weakened by her empty demeanor.

Percy’s rendition of a meeting between Liz Truss and Russian ambassador Andrey Kelin at 10 Downing Street is quite comical. Truss expresses her moral indignation towards Kelin’s speech, telling him to leave her office. On the other hand, Kelin claims that Truss stormed out of her own office, leaving him inside. It is unknown if Truss was able to successfully leave the meeting or if she ended up in a storage room.

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That this is one of many comical he-said-she‑said moments punctuating a fundamentally sober programme reinforces the point of Percy’s film-making: humanity’s most important collective decisions are made by individuals who are flawed at best, ridiculous at times and malignly self-interested more often than not. We might as well try to laugh about it.

Source: theguardian.com