Home » What Happened in the Russia-Ukraine War This Week? Catch Up With the Must-Read News and Analysis
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What Happened in the Russia-Ukraine War This Week? Catch Up With the Must-Read News and Analysis

Ukraine’s then-president Viktor Yanukovych announced he was spurning the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia. As young Ukrainians’ amazement quickly turned to anger, a journalist, Mustafa Nayyem, wrote on Facebook: “Come on guys, let’s be serious. If you really want to do something, don’t just press ‘like’. Write that you’re ready, and let’s try to start something.”

Nayyem suggested a time and place: 10.30pm near a monument on Maidan, Kyiv’s Independence Square. Hundreds turned out, and over time, despite police beatings, Maidan grew into a fortified encampment. After a standoff lasting several months, riot police killed dozens of protesters. Yanukovych fled to Russia. Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea, the Russians started a war in the Donbas, then came the 2022 full-scale invasion.

In the intervening years, Nayyem went into politics, and now runs the State Agency for Restoration of Ukraine, dealing with the destruction wrought Russia. Nayyem was born in Afghanistan; his family fled when he was eight. “The last thing I want is for my family to emigrate again. We are not going to – that’s why I hope we will stop this war here.” Shaun Walker filed from Kyiv.

War not fashionable but in Vogue

Fashion is powerful. Since February 2022, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has stuck to wearing sweatshirts, cargo pants and military boots – projecting a sense of peril and readiness for action, writes Charlotte Higgins. On the streets of Kyiv, there is a sense that taking pride in one’s appearance is a way of defying the Russians and insisting on normality.

Fashion, though, has not been Vogue Ukraine’s main focus since the full-scale invasion began. “The first news about the war appeared on our site on 24 February 2022. We didn’t hesitate – there was no meeting – we just started posting,” said its features editor, Daria Slobodianyk.

The history of Vogue magazine is intertwined with conflict. British Vogue spun off from the original US edition when copies could no longer be shipped across the Atlantic during the first world war. Photographs of Buchenwald and Dachau were published in the June 1945 issue.

For Ukraine’s first wartime Vogue edition, there was no model on the cover, which was a first. Instead, the cover was a strip of yellow-gold dissolving into a deep blue, alluding to the colours of the Ukrainian national flag. The editorial pages swapped fashion shoots for a series of essays on Ukrainian “heroes”, from the head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, to Ukraine’s national synchronised swimming team.

It was the bestselling issue of the magazine since its 2013 launch, said the Vogue Ukraine publisher, Julia Kostetska. “In this issue, and the issues that follow, what we have been doing is sharing people’s stories.”

Another winter of war

Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive has been thwarted by impenetrable Russian minefields and fortifications. There are rumours of tensions between Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the military top brass – reinforced when Zelenskiy this week fired the head of Ukraine’s military medical forces and demanded change in the army. Now, another winter of war – of missile strikes, drone attacks, power cuts – has begun to settle on Ukraine.

There are bright spots. On the battlefield, news that Ukrainian troops have dug into positions on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region, possibly opening up a path for a push towards Crimea, as well as Ukraine’s success targeting the Russian Black Sea fleet. Diplomatically, the EU’s announcement that it plans to begin membership talks with Ukraine brought much-needed cheer.

Still, writes Shaun Walker, there is less of the optimism of six months ago that the defeat of Russia and the return of Donbas and Crimea could be just around the corner. While some ponder the idea of a ceasefire and peace talks, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, stressed this phase of the war “requires the strongest and most difficult concentration” to keep going. “Let’s be clear, there is no option for real negotiations. All it would be an operational pause. Russia would use this to significantly improve its army, carry out new mobilisation and then relaunch its war, with even more tragic consequences for Ukraine.”

No stalemate – ‘war is not chess’

Ukraine has not reached a stalemate in its war with Russia because the west can help Kyiv by “dropping five more queens on the board”, according to the Yale professor Timothy Snyder. “I hate the stalemate analogy because war is not a game of chess,” Snyder said in an interview with the Guardian. “In chess, there are only so many pieces on the board, and the reason why you get into stalemate is that your pieces get into a certain arrangement.” War does not mirror the boardgame, the historian argues, because the amount of resources or weaponry available to each side is not limited.

Snyder was speaking as he began a second year of fundraising for a nationwide drone-detection system aimed at helping Kyiv stop Russia from destroying the electricity grid and other vital utilities during Ukraine’s hard winter. An aggressive bombing campaign led to a succession of energy blackouts last winter. “I think there are a lot of people on the Russian leadership and the Russian elite who just enjoy the cruelty. They just like the idea of depriving Ukrainians of water and food and energy and warmth during the winter.” The goal of the drone-detection system was to help prevent that. Dan Sabbagh, the Guardian’s defence and security editor, interviewed Synder.

‘Fully integrated with Nato as soon as possible’

Sweden must become a full member of Nato military alliance “as fast as possible” to ward off the threat from Russia, its defence minister said this week.

Sweden submitted its Nato application at the same time as Finland in May 2022, both countries renouncing their military neutrality after Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In April this year, 11 months later, Finland officially became a Nato member. But Sweden is still awaiting Turkey and Hungary’s approval – they are the only two yet to ratify.

Pål Jonson said he was unable to put a timeline on the completion of Sweden’s Nato approval process but was confident Turkey and Hungary would eventually agree. “We do not want to write off Russia as a threat because Russia has … shown evidence of endurance [in Ukraine]. So we have to stick to it and we do that in the best way by strengthening our national weaknesses and becoming fully integrated into Nato as soon as possible,” Jonson told the Guardian. Miranda Bryant filed from Stockholm.

Source : The Guardian