People evacuating Pokrovsk, Ukraine, August 2022
Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

This past September 11, the jingoistic Russian pop star Oleg Gazmanov was scheduled to give a concert titled “Russia Is Here Forever!” in the bombed-out Ukrainian city of Izium, in the northeastern Kharkiv region, which Russia had occupied in early March. But just before Gazmanov was supposed to appear onstage, the Ukrainian military launched a smashing counteroffensive in the region, liberating Izium and driving underequipped Russian forces out of 6,000 square kilometers of territory.

The concert was not the only thing ruined by the Ukrainian assault. After the Russian army’s humiliating rout, Russian President Vladimir Putin conducted a sham referendum in

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