Netflix has just put a full documentary on YouTube, making Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom available free to anyone interested in understanding the Russia-Ukraine war. The move came late on Friday, just as Russia announced a new fake news law meant to hinder dissent in the country. Anyone disseminating news about the war — including calling it a “war” — will face up to 15 years in jail. That includes members of the press who do not serve the authoritarian regime in the country.
Separately, Russia has blocked parts of the internet in the county. That means many people in Russia are not able to watch Winter on Fire, even though you can stream the entire documentary for free on YouTube. But everyone else in the world can watch it in full for free on YouTube. The documentary will help you understand where Ukraine’s desire for freedom comes from and what kind of people are fighting Putin’s army.
The progress of the war
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, hoping for a total conquest of the neighboring country it has threatened for several years. Western countries had been warming that the Russia-Ukraine war was imminent for months. And many expected the Russian army to decimate Ukraine’s defenses.
But Russia’s campaign failed from the start, and the Netflix Winter on Fire documentary is an eye-opener. It shows the kind of determination that motivates Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
What the world wasn’t necessarily ready for was a war that would stream live on social media. From the first day of combat, we’ve witnessed the horrors of the war in real-time as they happened. We saw the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian army and the regular people who took arms to defend their lands.
We also saw the ensuing Russian attacks against civilians.
The western world coalesced around Ukraine, delivering a powerful message to Russia. Stiff economic sanctions crippled the Russian economy in a matter of days. That included direct action from governments but also from international companies that stopped doing business in Russia. Netflix is one of them.
At the same time, more countries continued to send supplies to Ukraine, including the weapons that can stop tanks and helicopters with ease. Assuming the Ukrainian farmers don’t get to them first.
Watch Netflix’s Winter on Fire on YouTube
As we already explained, the Winter on Fire documentary details the Ukrainian revolution from late 2014 and early 2015. Also known as the Maidan Revolution, the movement represents the start of Ukraine’s fight for freedom. People took to the streets for more than 90 consecutive days, protesting against a pro-Russian government led by then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
The protesters started gathering in Kyiv as the Yanukovych administration stopped negotiations with the European Union, choosing instead to get closer to Russia. That wasn’t the decision people wanted from the administration.
It started as a peaceful revolution, but it led to a massive fight with police. More than 100 protestors died in clashes with the police over more than 90 days of conflict.
Netflix’s Winter on Fire documents in close detail the entire Maidan Revolution, showing how the conflict escalated from day to day. The pro-Russian government tried to disband the movement for months, reverting to more violent attacks on the unarmed protestors. Eventually, police began using live ammunition.
Ultimately, Yanukovych had to flee the country and the revolution triumphed. Putin invaded Crimea a few months later, and then fighting erupted in eastern Ukraine. Of course, the 2022 Russia-Ukraine is a continuation of all that.
By putting Winter on Fire on YouTube (see below), Netflix is making a powerful statement. This is a documentary you need to watch to understand why Ukraine will never surrender to Putin’s will.
The full documentary is also embedded below.
Separately, you can read an interview with filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky on Deadline. Afineevsky is the director of Oscar-nominated Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.