On the theory that no one really has more than a few hours to get some additional background on the present crisis, here are some recommendations.
George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia. Vivid memoir of fighting in an improvised army in a war between an over-matched kinda-sorta democracy and an authoritarian rebellion.
Isaac Babel, Red Cavalry. Collection of short stories (based on his own experiences) about Red Army troops fighting in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War (1918-1921).
Both of the above books are a fast read. Unless, you know, you find yourself lingering over particular passages, or you later feel the need to go back and read the book again even though the present unpleasantness has passed and it’s a sunny day when you should be doing some yard work.
Andrzej Wajda’s movie “Katyn.” In Polish, but with English sub-titles. What happened in Poland in 1940 happened all over the USSR (especially in Ukraine) for a longer period. It’s on Youtube for the moment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taVdIFONkCw
NB: The guys in the blue hats are NKVD. This was the successor to the OGPU, which was the successor to the Cheka. It was the predecessor to the KGB, which was the predecessor to the current FSB. Doesn’t matter. A leopard can’t change his spots. Vladimir Putin started out as a KGB officer.
Anne Appelbaum, “How Putin and His Cronies Stole Russia,” https://www.anneapplebaum.com/…/how-he-and-his-cronies…/