If you are anything like me, you’ve spent a lot of your time these past two weeks glued to the TV, your laptop and your phone, keeping up with the war in Ukraine. You know that the reporting from Ukraine has been amazing – reporters on the ground in the middle of a war who apparently need no sleep and have no fear. The people of Ukraine are the face of this war; reporters are its eyes and ears.

The Conversation has been adding to the essential coverage of this war by asking scholars to help explain everything from the history of Ukraine to the political, economic and even medical aspects of the conflict. Our stories are often of the “let’s-answer-that-question-you’ve-been-wondering-about” sort.

For instance: We all keep hearing about Russian oligarchs and their role supporting Putin. But who are these oligarchs? How’d they make their money? What is their relationship to Putin, exactly? University of South Carolina scholar Stanislav Markus answers all those questions, and more, including whether Putin really needs the oligarchs’ support to stay in office.

Likewise, we’ve looked into the role of the U.N. in this crisis and tried to answer whether it really has any power to stop Putin’s murderous aggression – or any other leader bent on unjustified war. Shelley Inglis of the University of Dayton, a former U.N. staffer, has a straightforward answer in her story: While she still believes the U.N. is “essential to humanity’s survival … it is difficult to overcome critiques that the U.N. is often just talk when diplomacy fails to avert an unjustified war of this scale.”

There are lots more stories below, from an explainer about the Ukraine military to a guide for how to give smartly and responsibly to Ukrainians. I won’t say enjoy your reading, but I will say I hope you learn something useful from it.

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

Putin has kept most oligarchs at a distance – literally and figuratively. Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Meet Russia’s oligarchs, a group of men who won’t be toppling Putin anytime soon

Stanislav Markus, University of South Carolina

An expert on oligarchs explains how they came to be Russia’s richest and most powerful people and scrutinizes their relationship with Putin.

People gather outside the U.N. headquarters in New York City to protest the war in Ukraine on March 2, 2022. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Russia is blocking Security Council action on the Ukraine war – but the UN is still the only international peace forum

Shelley Inglis, University of Dayton

Russia holds veto power on the UN Security Council, blocking any action to interfere in the Ukraine war. This is unlikely to change soon – but the UN still has other options for engagement.

A woman pays homage at the memorial to victims of the 1941 Nazi massacre of Jews in Babi Yar in Kyiv, Ukraine. AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

A brief history of Babi Yar, where Nazis massacred Jews, Soviets kept silence and now Ukraine says Russia fired a missile

Jeffrey Veidlinger, University of Michigan

Over two days in September 1941, more than 33,000 Jews were murdered by Nazi forces and their Ukrainian collaborators in Babi Yar.

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