The top best documentaries to understand the Russia - Ukraine war

1 de juny de 2020

The recent war between Russia and Ukraine has marked a before and after in the history of contemporary Europe. Not since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s has this continent been the scene of a war on the scale we have seen since February 24, 2022, when Putin and the Russian army invaded Ukraine under president Volodymir Zelensky's rule.

But the tension between Russians and Ukrainians has a long history, and several documentaries have been made to address this historic conflict. To better understand this unfortunate war, here at Guidedoc we have selected the best documentaries about the Russia-Ukraine conflict to watch online.

Why is the Russia-Ukraine war happening?

A group of Ukrainian army men wait in a snowy landscape during the Russia-Ukraine war

To find the causes of the war between Russia and Ukraine it is necessary to find certain events that occurred over the last hundred years. The national identity of the Ukrainian people, the fall of the Soviet Union, the signing of the Budapest Memorandum, and the emergence of the famous Orange Revolution in 2004 are key moments that are addressed in the following documentaries on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

An important turning point was the ousting of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych after a dubious presidential election in 2004, which led to the aforementioned Orange Revolution, with the rise to power of Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western politician whom Putin and the Russian establishment viewed with suspicion because of his alleged intentions to join NATO, the most powerful military alliance on the planet.

What documentaries to watch about the war between Russia and Ukraine to understand the conflict?

The following documentaries that you can watch online address the war between Russia and Ukraine from various political and social perspectives to better understand what is happening between these two countries. The titles are presented in order of release, which will allow you to understand the building up of the conflict chronologically.

Two Sides of One Horse

The female officers of a cavalry battalion in Moscow stand firm

Interestingly, the first documentary on the list shows an ironic perspective on a very serious topic. Shot in 2012, filmmaker Tatyana Soboleva documents the eve of the Russian presidential election of that year in which Vladimir Putin ends up returning to power, a key point in contemporary history and one that explains why relations between Russia and Ukraine worsened to the point of exploding into war

But this is not just another documentary about political campaigns. The film looks at the political climate in Moscow from the point of view of a horse from a cavalry battalion of the Russian capital, one of the bodies in charge of imparting order during the numerous anti-Putin demonstrations that took place at the time.

Watch this documentary now on Guidedoc

Golos: Ukrainian Voices

A musician plays a keyboard in front of police men during a demonstration in Kiev

Being the most educational title on the list, this documentary on Ukraine offers a varied panorama of voices that paint a portrait of this country and its strategic geopolitical position, halfway between Central Europe and Russian territory.

Filmed after the Euromaidan, another demonstration against the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, the interviewees address the situation in Ukraine at that time and the future of the country. 

They also tell us about the identity traits that make Ukraine a nation that wants its independence from the established powers.

Watch this documentary now on Guidedoc

People Who Came To Power

A pro-russian rebel demonstrating in Dombass Ukraine in the documentary People Who Came To Power

An important background to understand the Russia-Ukraine War is the so-called "Dombass War", which occurred in 2014 as a response to the Euromaidan. In this documentary directed by Tomáš Rafa and Oleksiy Radynski we are put in the middle of the territory in conflict, the Ukrainian southeast, whose population is of pro-Russian majority.

Practically playing the role of war correspondents, the filmmakers document how this area progressively becomes the epicenter of disaster: a civil war that pits pro-Russian pro-independence forces from the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk regions against the military forces of the Ukrainian government.

The film unveils the same mechanism of covert invasion by Russia, which had seized the territory of Crimea, belonging to Ukraine, a few months earlier. Herein lies the film's greatest value, the attention to the seemingly veiled details of a possible Russian operation to take control of Ukrainian territories. Undoubtedly, a key moment to understand Russia's subsequent invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Watch this documentary now on Guidedoc

Girls and Honey

A Ukranian young man in military uniform shoots his weapon in the city of Pesky

Filmed in the town of Pesky, right in the middle of the war between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian army, this short film tells in only 8 minutes a touching story that survives the incendiary political chaos surrounding the region.

Premiered at the prestigious Hot Docs Canada and Visions Du Réel festivals, this non-fiction film is a portrait of beekeepers Anatoli and Svetiana Kosack, who were caught in the epicenter of the civil war when the conflict broke out.

Counterpointing human sensibility with the savagery and deadliness of war, Girls and Honey is a majestic work of contemplation on the futility of violence and the victory of nature's vitality. A necessary film to watch and find hope in these times of turbulence.

Watch this documentary now on Guidedoc

Revealing Ukraine

Filmmaker Oliver Stone interviews president Vladimir Putin

Filmmaker Oliver Stone travels to Russia and other parts of the world to shape a version of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that is difficult to find in the West.

In a documentary that certainly may be labeled as a propaganda film, through interviews with Vladimir Putin, the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and other journalists and experts on the subject, the film shows a pro-Russian perspective on the conflict based on U.S. intervention in the region to undermine the former Soviet giant. 

Ukrainian filmmaker Igor Lopatonok, the director of the documentary, draws on a vast bank of footage of the demonstrations in Kiev and testimonies of European and U.S. politicians as part of a complex set of clues to an alleged plan to undermine Russian influence in the region to the detriment of Ukraine's sovereignty. 

Instead of censoring this documentary at this critical and regrettable moment, when Russia's invasion of Ukraine is undermining the idea of respect, sovereignty and freedom of Ukraine, Europe, and the international community, we believe it is appropriate to show this point of view so that anyone interested in knowing the conflict in-depth can know the background, including the version that the Russian government of Vladimir Putin handles to undertake their crimes.

Watch this and more great documentaries on Guidedoc


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