Global affairs documentaries

BBC Select has a range of compelling documentaries focusing on the latest global issues and social issues that matter to us all. Stream shows from BBC News and leading documentary filmmakers and get the inside story on politics, influential world leaders, regional conflicts and more.

Ukraine: Lessons From the Battlefield

Ukraine Lessons from the Battlefield BBC

The Ukraine war has claimed thousands of lives and destroyed countless communities. The intensity of the struggle has shocked many, even military professionals trying to get to grips with the ongoing conflict. The BBC’s Mark Urban has scoured Russian and Ukrainian accounts online and has spoken to observers in an attempt to understand how the war may reshape both history and future conflict.

Mariupol: The People's Story

Image of Ukraine flag colors and buildings in Mariupol

In a little under three months, residents of what was a thriving Ukrainian city witnessed the deaths of women and children in a maternity hospital and bodies left abandoned on the streets. Filmed and told by many of the citizens of Mariupol, this powerful documentary records the deaths of thousands and daring escapes by survivors. It’s a story of their loss, bravery, and determination.

Putin vs The West

Image of Putin wearing sun glasses reflecting the British and US flags

Throughout the two decades that Vladimir Putin has controlled Russia, global leaders have tried various tactics to keep him in line. Now, as war rages in Ukraine and the world faces one of its greatest tests to peace since the Cold War, this documentary attempts to identify where these leaders went wrong and tries to understand how we have reached this point of no return with Putin.

Ep 1: My Backyard
When Putin first attacked Ukraine in 2014, he used the West’s hesitancy to his advantage.

When Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces first attacked Ukraine in 2014, Europe’s leaders clashed over how to stop him.
When he spied division in the West, the Russian President pressed home his advantage. As this thrilling documentary
illustrates, Putin was able to exploit a power vacuum and make his most audacious move to date: sending troops into Crimea.

Ep 2: Back With a Vengeance
As revolution tore through the Middle East, the West tried to enlist Putin as peacemaker.

As the uprisings of the Arab Spring tore through the Middle East, Western leaders attempted to enlist Putin as a peacemaker. But, as this compelling political documentary shows, the Russian President was able to use this to his advantage. Exploiting the West’s inaction,
he revealed just how far he was willing to go to keep his allies in power.

Ep 3: A Dangerous Path
Putin’s aggression culminates in an audacious invasion that threatens to engulf Europe.

From an audacious poisoning, to the moment he launched an invasion that threatened to engulf Europe, Putin has continued to ramp up his aggression. As this fascinating documentary concludes, leaders including Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Volodymyr Zelensky discuss how they confronted Putin and maneuvered to try and prevent his invasion of Ukraine. How will the West now respond?

The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN

For more than 70 years the UN has been at the forefront of work to uphold human rights and promote global peace, but how does it deal with allegations of widespread wrongdoing made against the organization itself?

The Whistleblowers: Inside the UN tells the story of the consequences insiders face when they speak out to allege a wide range of sexual abuse and corruption throughout the organization. Their first-hand accounts point to a culture of retaliation, untouchability and silence, which goes all the way to the top.

Zelensky: The Making of a President

Watch Zelensky: The Making of a President on BBC Select

In just over three years, Volodymyr Zelensky has  gone from Ukraine’s best-known comedian to one of the world’s most recognizable leaders. He’s rallied his country in its fight for survival against Russia and has gained global respect and admiration.

This in-depth documentary tells the fascinating story of the Ukrainian president’s transformation. The BBC’s former Ukraine correspondent Jonah Fisher who followed Zelensky closely during his rise to power, explores one of the world’s most incredible political journeys.