Russia-Ukraine Dialogues: Women on the Frontlines

A key focus of this panel was on the transformation of the military landscape, exploring how women's increased participation in military and paramilitary roles has altered societal perceptions. The panel addressed lingering barriers to entry and the ongoing efforts to rectify inequalities within the military, such as shortages of proper equipment and uniforms for women in service. The discussion extended to the realm of journalism, where many Ukrainian women are chronicling the war's unfolding events. Questions explored the experiences of female war correspondents, the reasons behind their prominence in reporting, and the unique challenges they face in the context of evolving gender dynamics on the frontlines. Ukrainian women, uniquely positioned to act as official and unofficial representatives abroad, shared insights into their roles in shaping international perceptions of the conflict. The panel examined the long-term impact of the war on women's roles in post-conflict reconstruction and political landscapes, addressing whether expectations for women to be vocal and active are fair and the potential consequences for those who diverge from these expectations. In essence, "Women on the Frontlines" illuminated the stories of resilience, courage, and empowerment, exploring how Ukrainian women are not just enduring the events but actively shaping the course of their nation's history. #LSERussiaUkraine 



This webinar was held on Tuesday 30th January 2024.

Meet the speakers and chair

Diana Butsko (@dianabutsko) is a reporter for the Ukrainian news outlet Hromadske with nearly six years of experience in the media industry. She graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2022 with a Master’s in Political Science and returned to Ukraine to cover Russia’s full-scale invasion. Over the last year, Diana has been reporting from the frontline with a focus on war developments, the humanitarian situation, and Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine.

Hanna Hopko (@HopkoHanna) is an expert in advocacy on Russian expansionism and hybrid warfare. In 2014-2019 she chaired the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament. She was elected to the Parliament from the pro-European Self-Reliance Party in 2014 and later served as an independent MP. In 2014 Foreign Policy magazine named Ms. Hopko a “Leading Global Thinker”. That same year she received the “Certificate of Merit” from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service Leadership Seminar and was honored with the National Democratic Institute Democracy Award for her efforts to further the cause of democracy in Ukraine. She has spoken on security issues at forums hosted by Canada, such as the 95th Rose-Roth Seminar of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association held in Kyiv and was the keynote speaker alongside Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland at the 2019 Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto sponsored by Global Affairs Canada. Hanna belongs to the Young Global Leaders Networks of WEF (World Economic Forum) and Munich Security Conference and also is a Member of International Advisory Council of Warsaw Security Forum. She was one of the civic leaders of the EuroMaidan during Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity. Since Russia's large-scale war launched against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, jointly with other civil society leaders from Ukraine, she co-founded the International Centre of Ukrainian Victory (ICUV) headquartered in Poland. ICUV’s mission is mobilizing the world for Ukraine’s victory in war with Russia. International Centre for Ukrainian Victory (ICUV) unites civil society leaders advocating internationally for everything Ukraine needs to win the war with russia.

Mariia Zolkina (@Mariia_Zolkina) is the DINAM Fellow in the Department of International Relations at LSE and she has been working as Head of Regional Security and Conflict Studies at one of the most authoritative Ukrainian think tanks, the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF). She is a Ukrainian Researcher working in the fields of regional security, reintegration policies in occupied territories, and wartime diplomacy. Since 2014 she has been producing expertise on the political component of the Russo-Ukrainian war, especially regarding the Donbas region, and has analysed the socio-political implications of the conflict both at the national and international levels.

Leon Hartwell (@LeonHartwell) is a Senior Associate at LSE IDEAS and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington DC. His research interests include conflict resolution, genocide, diplomacy, democracy, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the Western Balkans. Previously, Hartwell was the Senior Advisor of the Central and South-East Europe Programme (CSEEP) and the 2022 Sotirov Fellow at LSE IDEAS, and CEPA’s Acting Director of the Transatlantic Leadership Program.  From 2012 to 2013, he was also the Senior Policy Advisor for Political and Development Cooperation at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Zimbabwe, where his work included government and civil society engagement, political reporting, peace building projects, and supporting human rights defenders. In 2019, Hartwell completed a joint doctoral degree summa cum laude at Leipzig University (Germany) and Stellenbosch University (South Africa). His thesis analyzed the use of mediation in the resolution of armed conflicts. Hartwell has published extensively in professional scholarly outlets and mainstream media ranging from the Negotiation Journal (Harvard-MIT-Tufts) and Oxford University Press to War on The Rocks. He speaks Afrikaans, English, Dutch, and Latvian, which he studied at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute.