Each week we wrap up the must-reads for our Ukraine war coverage, from news and features to analysis, visual guides and opinions.
‘I don’t see justice in this war’: Russian soldier exposes rot at core of Ukraine invasion
Pavel Filatyev knew the consequences of what he was saying. The ex-parachutist understood that he risked prison, that he would be called a traitor and that his former comrades would eliminate him. His own mother had urged him to flee Russia while he still could. He said it anyway.
“I don’t see justice in this war. I don’t see the truth in it,” he said Andrew Roth i Pyotr Sauer on a hidden cafe table in Moscow’s financial district. It was the first time he had sat down with a reporter in person since returning from the war in Ukraine.
Two weeks ago, Filatyev released a 141-page bombshell: a day-by-day description of how his paratrooper unit was sent into mainland Ukraine from Crimea to enter Kherson and capture the seaport. It is the most detailed voluntary account of a Russian soldier participating in the invasion of Ukraine.
Filatyev described how his depleted and ill-equipped unit burst into mainland Ukraine behind a hail of rockets in late February, with little in the way of logistics or concrete targets, and no idea why it was happening the war “It took me weeks to understand that there was no war on Russian soil and that we had just attacked Ukraine,” he said, his fingers shaking with stress as he lit another cigarette.
“We were sitting under artillery fire in Mykolaiv,” he explained. “At that point I thought we’re out here doing shit, what the hell do we need this war for? And I really thought, ‘God, if I survive, I’m going to do everything I can to stop this.’
Ukraine hints that it was behind the Crimean attack
A series of mysterious and devastating attacks in occupied Crimea destroyed a key rail hub used to supply Russian troops and a military air base this week. Luke Harding reports
Smoke billowed into the sky near Dzhankoi on Tuesday, while several explosions appeared to have destroyed a Russian ammunition depot and an electrical substation about 200 km (125 miles) from the front line with Ukrainian forces.
According to Russian media, a new explosion took place at a military airfield in the village of Hvardeyskye, not far from the regional capital of Crimea, Simferopol.
While not formally confirming responsibility for the strike, Kyiv officials reacted with glee on social media
“The reasons for the explosions in the occupied territory can be different, very different, in particular, I quote the definition of the occupiers themselves, ‘bungling,'” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reflected in a speech in the evening.
Kyiv has hit Crimea three times in a week, in clinical and flamboyant style. Russia’s logistics and weapons dumps have been hit hard.
‘It’s crazy’: Putin turns nuclear power plant into front line
The situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is dangerous, Luke Harding i Christopher Cherry reported from Nikopol, the Ukrainian-controlled city 7 km away on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River.
The plant, the largest in Europe, is now on the front line between the territory occupied by Russia and that controlled by Ukraine. Russia is using the sprawling site as a military base from which it has been shelling the nearby towns of Nikopol and Marhanets.
According to Ukraine’s state energy company Energoatom, Russia has fired at the plant several times. The shells landed near the fire station and the director’s office, not far from a radioactive source storage unit.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has demanded access and asked the Russians to demilitarize it to avoid a possible nuclear disaster.
A former senior employee, with whom he spoke Luke Harding speaking on condition of anonymity, he said the Russians were bombing the plant in nearby villages and roads with the aim of raising the stakes in negotiations with Kyiv.
But the Kremlin is also trying to do something unprecedented: steal another state’s nuclear reactor, he adds. Engineers are working to connect the facility to the power grid in occupied Crimea and cut it off from Ukrainian homes. One reactor has already broken down. It’s a macabre game of radioactive Russian roulette, set in a country that has experienced the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
And Sabbagh in Kyiv covered the moment when Zelenskiy vowed that his forces would target Russian soldiers who would shoot at the plant.
Russia is resorting to “undisguised nuclear blackmail”, Zelenskiy alleged. A “terrorist state”, was threatening the “entire world” with Armageddon. He urged the UN and the international community to do something.
Ukraine aims to create chaos within Russian forces, Zelenskiy adviser says
Ukraine is engaged in a counteroffensive aimed at creating “chaos within Russian forces” by attacking the invaders’ supply lines deep into occupied territories, according to a key adviser to the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
said Mykhailo Podolyak And Sabbagh i Luke Harding there could be more attacks in the “next two to three months” similar to those that hit Crimea.
Speaking from the presidential offices in Kyiv, Podolyak said: “Our strategy is to destroy logistics, supply lines and ammunition depots and other objects of the military infrastructure. It is creating chaos within its own forces.” .
The adviser, often described as the country’s third most powerful figure, said Kyiv’s approach was counter to Moscow’s use of heavy artillery power to gain territory in the eastern Donbas region, which has seen Russian troops destroy cities like Mariupol and Sievierodonetsk in order to gain territory.
“So Russia has taught everybody that a counter-offensive requires huge amounts of manpower like a giant fist and only goes in one direction,” he said, but “a Ukrainian counter-offensive looks very different. We don’t use the tactics of years 60s and 70s, of the last century”.
‘A referendum is not right’: Busy Kherson looks to uncertain future
“A city with Russian history”, proclaim billboards in the Ukrainian city of Kherson, occupied by the Russian army since the first days of March. Others display the Russian flag or quotes from Vladimir Putin.
Over the past five months, Moscow has appointed an occupation administration to run the Kherson region and ordered schools to teach the Russian curriculum. Local people are encouraged to apply for Russian passports to access pensions and other benefits.
The next stage of the Kremlin’s plan is a referendum, to add a dubious sense of legality to these events on the ground and create a pretext to bring Kherson and other occupied parts of southern Ukraine to Russia, using an updated version of Crimea from 2014. playbook.
“You have to remember that there was never any talk of a referendum in Kherson; nobody thought about it before the war. Now it will be a referendum at gunpoint,” said Kostyantyn, who worked in the IT sector before the occupation. Shaun Walker i Pyotr Sauer.
Calls are growing for a visa ban in Russia
Thousands of Russians have flocked to Europe on short-term visas since the country invaded Ukraine, Andrew Roth i Pyotr Sauer report
Some sought an escape from repression, while the summer has brought Russian tourists just looking to escape to the beach. Now some European politicians are calling for an end to short-term visas that allow Russians to spend holidays in the EU while the war in Ukraine rages on.
“They need to see a free world,” said Ilya Krasilshchik, a Russian online publisher who has been threatened with prosecution in Russia for opposing the war and is currently in Europe. “The experience of the Soviet Union shows that closing the borders does not lead to the overthrow of the regime.”
The British son of a Russian businessman, a passport holder, said wealthy Russians would likely find a way around any ban. “The elite will always find a way to Europe,” he said. “Many of my generation went to school here. We’ve lived in the West long enough to get residency permits or a second passport… There will always be gaps for those with money.”
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