Luca Steinmann: The Russian front

Luca Steinmann
Ed. Rizzoli
pp. 352

I read this fascinating book driven by the desire to delve deeper into the issue of the Russian-Ukrainian war, searching among the less "mainstream" voices.

Luca Steinmann, born in 1989, is an Italian-Swiss journalist, reporter and university professor with several collaborations with Italian and international newspapers behind him.

Steinmann is no stranger to witnessing this type of events and war scenarios, having already produced reportages from Syria, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

The book talks about the invasion in Ukraine told from the point of view of the Russian army and not only: in fact it also tells the story of the life of the civilian population. Alongside the story of the war, the young reporter decides to talk about his condition as a Western journalist who experiences the daily risk of being expelled.

Steinmann opens up to the reader, showing his most human side, describing his fears and the strategies implemented to avoid compromising the relationship of trust with the soldiers. In fact, he narrates his commitment to proving himself neutral and remaining impartial in order to gain access to the front.

It is interesting to delve into a narrative that provides an alternative point of view compared to the usual news that characterized these two years of war. The story describes the life of the Russian-speaking population and reports the opinions that Russians have towards their adversaries. Before the actual war broke out, the journalist went to Lugansk to interview local people, asking them to tell him about the events of the Euromaidan and their lives from 2014 until February 24, 2022.

Interesting are the points in which the narrative focuses on the bombing of the cities of the republic of Donetsk (in Donbass), facts that were not reported by the Western media, more inclined to show the attacks suffered by Ukraine.

Other stimulating discoveries that this book makes available to the reader are:

The explanation of the meaning of the letters O and E on Russian tanks, which, as the author explains, indicate the attack directions.

The explanation of the function of Rosgvardiya - The National Guard which, as Steinmann explains to us, has the declared mission of protecting Russia's borders, dealing with arms control, the fight against terrorism, the protection of public order, the surveillance of important state structures and the fight against organized crime.

Also noteworthy are the interviews with the Chechens and Wagner, the historical references also reported by international media, which are listed here as: The Ukrainian hero named Vitaly Shakun Volodymyrovich who blew himself up to stop the Russian tanks on the 26th February 2022 by collapsing the Bridge in Kherson Oblast on Lake Henichesk.

As a scholar of international history and geopolitics, the book is interesting and full of information. It is certainly a complex and not immediate read for those without a basic knowledge of geopolitics. However, it is highly recommended for enthusiasts and researchers.

Giacomo Falanga