Tim Judah is currently a Fellow at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. He has reported for The New York Review from, among other places, ­Afghanistan, Serbia, Uganda, and Armenia.
 (October 2018)

Follow Tim Judah on Twitter: @timjudah1.


No Exit in Niger

Agadez, Niger, 2018; the French inscription on the gate reads, ‘The city of Agadez welcomes you’
When four American troops were killed in an ambush in Niger last October, few back home knew they were even there. Niger, a Francophone and Muslim country that is bordered by Libya and Algeria to the north, Nigeria to the south, Chad to the east, and Burkina Faso and war-torn …

Will Ukraine Ever Change?

President Petro Poroshenko with soldiers in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, April 2017
Walk around Rivne, a town of a quarter-million people in western Ukraine, a four-hour drive from Kiev, and you could easily get the impression that things are going far better than the country’s official statistics indicate they should be. To a certain extent this is not surprising: economists calculate that between 40 and 50 percent of Ukraine’s economy is off the books, because so much of it is cash-based and it is easy to evade taxes. But a closer look at Rivne tells another story. Along with lots of new houses, one sees fancy new SUVs driven by beefy, shaven-headed men who are accompanied by glamorous high-heeled girls—one of many indications of the extent to which the town has been taken over by organized crime.

Ukraine: Inside the Deadlock

Galya Malchik, a resident of Karapyshi, Ukraine, who told Tim Judah that a local man with a truck had asked for donations of food for Ukrainian troops in the east, but that he received so much that he left before she could give him her contribution, March 2015
As winter turns to spring, soldiers on both sides of the front line are anything but tired of the war. Spirits are high and demoralization and exhaustion have not yet set in. Both sides are better organized than before and their commanders are trying to second-guess where the other will attack when the cease-fire breaks down completely, as they all assume it will soon. If and when it does, there are three main possible outcomes.

The Specter Facing Ukraine

A rebel soldier guarding the ruins of the Savur-Mogila Memorial, September 6, 2014. The memorial, which commemorated the Soviet capture of a strategic hill near Snizhne in ­eastern Ukraine, was destroyed in fighting between Ukrainian and rebel forces in August 2014. According to Tim Judah, ‘journalists are told not to take pictures that show the faces of rebel fighters.’ For more of his photographs from eastern Ukraine, see the NYRgallery blog, nybooks.com/ukraine-war.
When I returned to Ukraine at the end of August I went to see a senior diplomat in Kiev. He told me that things had changed so fast since I had been there in the spring that Ukraine was already “a different country” from the one it had been then.


France Against Itself

French newspapers with results from France's Presidential election on the Promenade Des Anglais in Nice, France, April 24, 2017

In recent years, the traditional right has had to move rightward to stop its voters going over to Marine Le Pen. Watching Le Pen and former prime minister François Fillon on television, watching Fillon address a rally of five thousand people in Nice in the final days before the first-round election, and talking to ordinary people who said they were likely to vote for either of these two candidates, I often felt like I was listening to a French version of the Brexit and Trump campaigns, with many of the same fears about foreigners and globalization eroding the livelihoods of citizens.

Balkan Poison, Revisited

Serbian ultra-nationalist leader Vojislav Šešelj (left), with paramilitary leader Dragan Vasiljković (“Captain Dragan”) and other Serbian fighters, Croatia, circa 1991

The recent verdicts in The Hague, regarding the Balkan wars of the 1990s, have coincided with a series of stunning new films about the same time and region. Books and films about the wars of the 1990s may not be able to change politics but, as the UN’s tribunal winds down its work, they remind us how these legacies remain very much alive.

Ukraine: Pictures of a Ceasefire

In mid-February a second Ukrainian ceasefire came into effect. The fighting has not stopped, though it has been much reduced. Few people think it will last. The morale of soldiers on both sides is high. Civilians who remain in the areas where there is fighting have been emerging from their shelters and trying to resume some sort of normal life, though some still live underground. A huge proportion of the people who live in these areas have left. I took the following photos while reporting for The New York Review of Books from the region last month.

Ukraine: Two Poets in the War

Luhansk, East Ukraine, November 28, 2014

In general terms, most Ukrainians, are more united than ever and many say that Vladimir Putin and the war have done more to strengthen Ukrainian patriotism than anything since independence in 1991. But it is impossible to ignore that the conflict is by now not only a matter of aggression by Russia but also a civil war in the east.