Nuclear Blackmail and Cyberterror
by Svitlana Matviyenko
The occupation of both Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya NPPs in late February – early March 2022 created a sense of catastrophic proximity and, in some ways, echoed the nuclear threat articulated by Vladimir Putin on February 27, when he ordered the Russian minister of defense and the chief of the general staff to transfer deterrent forces of the Russian army to a “special regime of combat duty” as the occupation of the nuclear power plants weaponized their infrastructure by turning it into a nuclear weapon. These instances of “nuclear terrorism” lie at the nexus of “cyber” and “nuclear” warfare, where the two major forces of cyberwar converge for a full realization of its grimmest scenario.
Russian Fossil Fascism Is Europe’s Fault
by Oleksiy Radynski
This presentation focuses on the case study of the infamous Nord Stream gas pipeline and its implication with Putin’s war in Ukraine. Launched in 2011, this project made Germany de facto complicit in the emergence of the Russian “fossil fascist” regime. The profits from the European consumption of gas were funding Russia’s military machine, while reliance on cheap Russian gas had delayed the energy transition from fossils to renewables, worsening the climate emergency. By joining the Nord Stream project, Germany had signaled – perhaps, unwittingly – that all the talk about Ukraine’s role in the European project is nothing but hollow rhetoric. In the European reality that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the newly independent Ukraine has been ascribed, shamefully, with only one real geopolitical role: that of a transit zone enabling the deliveries of Russian fossil fuels to their European consumers via the Soviet-era oil and gas pipelines buried in the Ukrainian land. The major rationale behind the Nord Stream project was to render this gas transit zone obsolete; at the moment when Germany had agreed to strip Ukraine of its transit potency, the stage for Russia’s 2022 invasion had been set.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which put its people under mass physical and political extermination, has forced the European continent to question the very foundations of the institutional order it had been based on since the end of World War II. In the situation, when not just the future but the very present of Europe at large has appeared under direct existential threat from the Russian fascism, all the basic categories that the post-Nazi world relied on, such as democracy and authoritarianism, historicism and neocolonialism, pacifism and demonstration of protest, require a profound revision and change. The system of ideological coordinates as well as the outlines of the political spectrum we have been used to operate in are to be rearranged to tackle a new catastrophic reality.
The fundamental difference that we face in Europe at the moment between the Western approach characterized by the pursuit of peace and the Eastern one focused on liberation and independence poses a dramatic challenge – in order to survive and progress, democracy as a political regime has to be capable of defending itself also in a military way. What changes does it bring to the idea of the nation-state and the principles of internationalism? How will the notions and practices of citizenship, rule of law and human rights and freedoms be altered? In what way does it affect an economic apparatus and constitute the modus vivendi of our societies anew? How could a new political paradigm be safeguarded against imperialist and fascist misuse to prevent political and military violence by the strong against the weak?
Conceived by the Kyiv Biennial and Biennale Warszawa from the East Europe Biennial Alliance, this special public program Armed Democracy, curated by Vasyl Cherepanyn within the 2nd edition of Biennale Warszawa, revolves around the concepts of imperialism, liberation, fascism, autocracy, revolution, and militarization in pursuit of the world to come on Europe’s burnt out land. The program is a first part of the series organized by the East Europe Biennial Alliance discussing Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine and taking place in Warsaw, Prague, Kassel, and Riga over the summer and fall of 2022.
Svitlana Matviyenko is an Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis in the School of Communication and Associate Director of the Digital Democracies Institute. Her research and teaching are focused on information and cyberwar; political economy of information; media and environment; infrastructure studies; STS. She is a co-author of Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism (Minnesota UP, 2019), a winner of the 2019 book award of the Science Technology and Art in International Relations (STAIR) section of the International Studies Association and of the Canadian Communication Association 2020 Gertrude J. Robinson book prize.
Oleksiy Radynski is a filmmaker and writer based in Kyiv. His films have been screened at film festivals including International Film Festival Rotterdam, DOK Leipzig, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, Docudays IFF, Watch Docs, The Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), e-flux (New York), S A V V Y Contemporary (Berlin), International Studio & Curatorial Program (New York) and other venues. After graduating from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, he studied at Home Workspace Program (Ashkal Alwan, Beirut). His texts have been published in Proxy Politics: Power and Subversion in a Networked Age (Archive Books, 2017), Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and East Europe: A Critical Anthology (MoMA, 2018), Being Together Precedes Being (Archive Books, 2019) and in e-flux journal. He was a co-founder of Ukrainian edition of Political Critique magazine and a columnist at krytykapolityczna.pl.
Vasyl Cherepanyn (Ukraine, 1980) is Head of the Visual Culture Research Center(VCRC), an institution founded in Kyiv in 2008 as a platform for collaboration among academic, artistic, and activist communities. He holds a PhD in philosophy (aesthetics) and has lectured at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), University of Helsinki, Free University of Berlin, Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, University of Vienna, Institute for Advanced Studies of the Political Critique in Warsaw, and University of Greifswald. He was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna in 2016. He coedited Guidebook of the Kyiv International (Medusa Books, 2018) and ’68 NOW (Archive Books, 2019), and curated The European International (Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, 2018) and Hybrid Peace (Stroom, The Hague, 2019) among others. VCRC is the organizer of the Kyiv Biennial (The School of Kyiv, 2015; The Kyiv International, 2017; The Kyiv International—’68 NOW, 2018; Black Cloud, 2019; Allied, 2021) and a founding member of the East Europe Biennial Alliance. VCRC received the European Cultural Foundation Princess Margriet Award for Culture in 2015 and the Igor Zabel Award Grant for Culture and Theory in 2018.