At Coffee Treasure, they’re building a war chest. In this Ukrainian-run deli in north-east London, the cappuccinos and espressos are served up as normal, but out back a collection of food, nappies and other vital goods is growing, to be sent to refugees fleeing the fighting at home. They are also asking for medical supplies, such as first aid kits, and torches.

It’s a five minute walk from my house, and I popped in yesterday. The stress was evident on the faces of regulars and staff as they checked in on each other’s families and friends. Every twist and turn of this conflict is being followed on their phones; from the heroics of the defenders on city streets and in the skies, to the hopes and fears playing out on the political stage.

Among the fears they have, is that of misinformation: a concern that Vladimir Putin’s lies are cutting through with some people. One woman told me a donation had arrived with a plea that the aid not be shared with “neo-nazis”. But Putin’s claim that the offensive is a “denazification” effort is met head on in this piece by Jeffrey Veidlinger, Professor of History and Judaic Studies, University of Michigan.

Meanwhile, the weekend saw some hope, amid news that Ukranian and Russian delegations will meet for talks. But at the same time, there is rising fear worldwide, after Putin announced the country’s nuclear deterrence forces would be put on a “special mode of combat duty”. Less heavily reported was Germany’s move to massively increase its defence budget, in a clear sign that it views this as being a long-term geopolitical shift.

We’ll consider all these angles and more in coming days at The Conversation, bringing you informed, academic knowledge of the issues and developments. You can follow the network’s rolling coverage of the rapidly moving story here.

Meanwhile, the deliveries of aid from Coffee Treasure and elsewhere will begin, with volunteers taking cars and vans on long drives across Europe. And as one of the regulars added to me yesterday, some of those making the journey are prepared to stay for the long term – to fight.

Stephen Khan

Executive Editor, The Conversation International

Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed the war on Ukraine is a ‘peacekeeping mission.’ Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

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