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Tug of War

Tug of War takes listeners to the most volatile corners of the world where democracy is in its dying days. In a special ongoing season, CNN reporters take us on-the-ground in Ukraine to document Russia’s invasion, the escalating conflict, and what it means for the rest of the world.

A frayed rope is about to split in two
How Putin’s Plan to Splinter NATO Backfired Tug of War
After decades of neutrality, Finland and Sweden are set to file applications to join NATO, undermining Russian president Vladimir Putin’s aim of splintering the military alliance. CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson traces how the war in Ukraine convinced the Finnish government to take this step and examines how the world order could be impacted if other European countries follow their lead. 

Recorded on May 16, 2022.
May 18, 2022
How Russia’s War is Straining the Global Economy Tug of War
Russia’s war on Ukraine is causing a global scramble for essential commodities such as wheat, natural gas, and sunflower oil. But how are shortages on these goods resulting in an export ban on palm oil in Indonesia and skyrocketing dairy prices in the UK? CNN Business Senior Writer Julia Horowitz talks us through the economic domino effect rocking global markets and the civil unrest it could spark.  

Recorded on May 10, 2022.
May 11, 2022
Inside the Escape from Mariupol Tug of War
Before the war, Mariupol was a peaceful port town. Now, it’s the focal point of the biggest land war in Europe since 1945. CNN’s International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh spoke to some evacuated residents who have spent the last two months holed up deep beneath a local steel plant - he tells us about their journey, what life is like for those who remain in Mariupol and why future evacuations may be hard to come by. 

Recorded on May 3, 2022.
May 4, 2022
Terror and Tulips in Kharkiv Tug of War
Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, has been a strategic target since the earliest days of Russia’s invasion. Amidst constant bombardment and heavy losses, residents fear the worst could be yet to come should their city be encircled by Russian forces. CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward has seen both the rubble and the heroism on the ground in Kharkiv. She takes us inside the city to examine Russia’s gruesome tactics and the defiance of everyday Ukrainians refusing to abandon their homes and their countrymen.

Recorded on April 26, 2022.
Apr 27, 2022
Behind The Scenes With “Navalny” Director Daniel Roher Tug of War
The new CNN Films documentary “Navalny” chronicles the aftermath of top Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s poisoning, allegedly carried out by Russian agents (a charge the Kremlin denies). We talk with the film’s director, Daniel Roher, about how he was able to obtain intimate access to Navalny and his family, why it’s important to him for Russians to see the movie and what Putin’s response to Navalny can tell us about his invasion of Ukraine.

Recorded on April 20, 2022.
Apr 24, 2022
Putin’s "Yes Men" Tug of War
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Western allies were quick to slap sanctions on the wealthy oligarchs closely aligned with Vladimir Putin. But are they having an impact? CNN Contributor and former CNN Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty examines who is in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, how they work hand-in-hand with the Kremlin, and why Russia is so desperate for anything it can call a “victory” on the battlefield.

Recorded on Tuesday, April 19 2022
Apr 20, 2022
Why Genocide is More Than Just a Label Tug of War
Last week, President Joe Biden described the atrocities being discovered in Ukraine as "genocide" for the first time. CNN Chief International Investigative Correspondent Nima Elbagir explains the legal ramifications around the label and also examines how Russian tactics compare to other conflicts she’s covered around the world. 

This episode contains graphic descriptions of war. 

Recorded on April 15, 2022.
Apr 17, 2022
“The definition of victory has changed.” Tug of War
After suffering a series of failures in the north of Ukraine around Kyiv, Russia is set to shift its focus to the east. There are fears that the assault could be even more relentless and indiscriminate as Vladimir Putin searches for some sort of victory. CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen examines why Putin is so focused on this area, what dangers await residents coming back to their homes near Kyiv, and how everyday Ukrainians are helping to document alleged war crimes in real time. 

This episode contains graphic descriptions of war. 

Recorded on April 12, 2022.
Apr 13, 2022
Brutality, Caught on Tape Tug of War
As Russia leaves behind a trail of dead civilians in Ukraine, the global outrage grows louder. Russian propaganda tries to hide the horrors of bombed cities and potential war crimes by Russian soldiers, but Ukrainian security services have released radio intercepts that counter that narrative. CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance discusses how Russian soldiers are communicating while on the ground in Ukraine, Putin’s inner circle of power and how Russia’s propaganda machine is keeping the Kremlin afloat.

Recorded on April 8, 2022.
Apr 10, 2022
Unearthing the Horror in Bucha Tug of War
For the past few days, the world has reacted in horror to the shocking images coming out of Bucha, Ukraine: dead civilian bodies in the streets, many with hands tied, and mass graves containing hundreds of unarmed people. Some believe the atrocities may even be a tipping point in the conflict with Russia. After visiting Bucha, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned peace talks with Russia would be difficult. CNN international correspondent Phil Black talks about why such brutality is part of Russia’s playbook, the response from the West, and how this could impact future negotiations. 

This episode contains graphic descriptions of war. 

Recorded on April 5, 2022.
Apr 6, 2022
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