The war in Ukraine has hit the six-month mark, and its devastating effects have been felt both inside Ukraine and far beyond its borders. Thousands have been killed; millions have fled their homes and sought refuge in other countries. The conflict’s economic shockwaves continue to pound Europe and the rest of the world.

All this, writes historian Ronald Suny, because of Russia’s hunger for domination and prestige.

“Ukraine faces an implacable foe whose current sense of self is embedded in its imperial past and its distinction from the West,” Suny writes. A historian at the University of Michigan, Suny says that Ukraine’s heroic resistance to Russian aggression has, perhaps, presented Russia with a foe that it cannot roll over. “Even empires have their limits, and when faced with determined opposition, they learn the harsh lesson of imperial overreach,” he writes.

If Suny’s story covers the grand sweep of history in order to help readers understand the war, University of Michigan anthropologist Greta Uehling brings an intimate view to her article about personal ethics and relationships during the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a subject she started studying when Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014.

Ukrainians, she writes, “struggled to prioritize competing obligations under the most challenging conditions. Couples told me they had to balance the competing demands placed on them by their political convictions with responsibility for aging parents and children, along with the bonds they shared with each other.”

Uehling cites a woman who “sent her children to live with their grandparents so she could run a shelter that she and her husband had established on the frontlines.” This kind of choice – between rival obligations that pull powerfully on people’s hearts – illustrates the emotional conflicts of this war as Ukrainians found themselves, in Uehling’s beautifully evocative phrase, “entangled in a conflict that had no sidelines.”

Not all the news is grim from Ukraine. Communications scholar Nadia Kaneva writes that Ukraine “is the first country to launch an official nation branding campaign in the midst of war. For the first time, brand communication is a key part of a country’s response to a military invasion.” You may have encountered that campaign, captured in its tagline “Bravery. To be Ukraine,” in the form of a Vogue magazine profile of Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, replete with photos by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz of Zelenska in fashionable clothes sitting on the steps of Ukraine’s parliament building.

The very fact that you may know about the Zelenska profile shows the campaign is working. Kaneva writes that the campaign “fits into a larger communication strategy, mounted by Ukraine’s government, that’s intended to keep the world focused on the country’s fight against Russian aggression.”

Six months in, The Conversation remains committed to focusing on this war.

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

People attend an exhibition of Russian equipment destroyed by the armed forces of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2022. Olena Znak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukrainian people are resisting the centuries-old force of Russian imperialism – Ukraine war at 6 months

Ronald Suny, University of Michigan

Democratic nation-states were supposed to be the legitimate successors of empires. It hasn’t quite worked out that way in the past century, and Russia’s war on Ukraine is a reflection of that.

Zhanna Dynaeva and Serhiy Dynaev stand with a cat inside their house, which was destroyed by Russian bombardment, in the village of Novoselivka, Ukraine, Aug. 13, 2022. AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

Ukraine’s war has shattered some friendships and family ties – but ‘care ethics’ have strengthened other relationships

Greta Uehling, University of Michigan

An anthropologist explains how years of conflict have made Ukrainians reassess their priorities and relationships.

A woman walks by large signs that read ‘Bravery is Ukrainian brand’ in Kyiv. Oleksii Chumachenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

With ‘bravery’ as its new brand, Ukraine is turning advertising into a weapon of war

Nadia Kaneva, University of Denver

Ukraine is partnering with an advertising company to produce an innovative nation branding campaign during a war. The campaign could have influence beyond how Ukraine and Russia conduct this war.