Here is the new issue of INI, dated Jan-March 2023.

By the time you read this, it will be one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. On 24 February last year, when Russia launched an unprovoked war against its neighbour, the world reacted in shock and horror, as we believed that no ruler today will wage a war for territorial expansion. The two world wars had shown what a war could do to humanity.

We also believed that Ukraine, totally unprepared for war, and no match to its powerful neighbour, will soon fall, and become a part of the Russian empire that Vladimir Putin dreams of. But, after a year, the two countries are still locked in a protracted war that seems will never end. As they head into the war’s second year, what can we expect?

Writing in the Conversation (20 February 2023), Matthew Sussex, an expert on Russian affairs, says that this year, 2023, will be crucial. It “will test the resolve of all the main protagonists and their supporters, including Ukraine’s ability to repel Russian onslaughts and recapture territory, the extent to which Vladimir Putin can command domestic obedience, and even of China’s intentions, as it mulls supplying Moscow with weapons”.

“The past year has taught us much: about how the weak can resist the powerful; about the dangers of peace at any price; and about the hubris of believing autocrats can be bought off with inducements.”

“But perhaps most importantly it has taught us to question our assumptions about war. Now, one year into a conflict in Europe that many thought impossible, we are likely about to rediscover just how world-shaping wars can be.”

Pope Francis, after several exhortations seeking an end to the senseless war, must feel alone and helpless. He seems to have turned his gaze to places where he could do something to bring about peace. His recent trip to South Sudan shows how clearly he understands the brutal impact of armed conflicts on humans, all of whom are God’s children whom he dearly loves.

The forecasts for this year, 2023, do not offer much hope. Ian Bremmer, the noted TIME columnist, says, “A cornered Russia will turn from global player into the world’s most dangerous rogue state, posing a serious and pervasive danger to Europe, the U.S., and beyond. Bogged down in Ukraine, with little to lose from further isolation and Western retaliation, and facing intense domestic pressure to show strength, Russia will turn to asymmetric warfare against the West…’ (TIME, Jan 16/Jan 23, 2023).

The death toll in the devastating earthquake that hit Turkiye and Syria has risen to 46,000 and keeps going up. So does the number of innocents killed in gun violence in the U.S.

Bombarded by such news, we need to remain sane and hopeful. The articles in this issue of INI are sure to help.

– M.A. Joe Antony, SJ