Each week, we round up the must-reads from our coverage of the Ukraine war, news and reporting to analysis, visual guides and opinion.
‘I don’t see justice in this war’: Russian soldier exposes rot at heart of Ukraine invasion
Pavel Filatyev knew the consequences of what he said. The ex-paratrooper understood that he risked prison, that he would be treated as a traitor and that he would be shunned by his former comrades in arms. His own mother had pushed 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 here.” he said Andre Roth and Pjotr Sauer on a hidden coffee table in Moscow’s financial district. It was the first time he had sat down with a journalist in person since returning from the war in Ukraine.
Two weeks ago, Filatiev released a 141-page bombshell: a day-to-day description of how his paratroop unit was sent to 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 exhausted and ill-equipped unit broke into the mainland Ukraine behind a hail of rocket fire in late February, with little logistics or concrete objectives, and no idea why the war was going on. “It took me weeks to realize that there was no war at all on Russian territory 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 from Mykolaiv,” he explained. “At that time I already thought we were doing some bullshit, why the fuck do we need this war? And I really had this thought, ‘God, if I survive, then I’ll do everything I can to stop this.’ »
Ukraine hints it was behind Crimea attack
A series of mysterious and devastating strikes in occupied Crimea destroyed a key rail junction used to supply Russian troops and a military airbase this week, Luke Harding reports.
Smoke was rising in the sky near Dzhankoi on Tuesday as several explosions appeared to have destroyed a Russian ammunition depot and an electrical substation about 200 km from the front line with Ukrainian forces.
According to Russian media, another explosion took place at a military airfield in the village of Hvardeyskye, not far from Crimea’s regional capital, Simferopol.
Without officially confirming responsibility for the strike, Kyiv officials reacted happily 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, ‘clumsy'”, declared the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskymused in an evening speech.
Kyiv has hit Crimea three times in one week, in clinical, flamboyant style. Russia’s logistics and arms depots were badly affected.
‘This is madness’: Putin turns nuclear power plant into frontline
The situation in Ukraine Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is perilous, Luke Harding and Christopher Cherry reported from Nikopol, the Ukrainian town 7 km away on the opposite bank of the Dnieper.
The plant, the largest in Europe, is now on the front line between the territory occupied by Russia and the territory under Ukrainian control. Russia uses the sprawling site as a military base from which to bomb the nearby towns of Nikopol and Marhanets.
According to Ukraine’s state-owned energy company, Energoatom, Russia fired at the plant several times. Shells fell near the fire station and the director’s office, not far from a storage unit for radioactive sources.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has requested access and called on the Russians to demilitarize it to avoid a possible nuclear disaster.
A former senior executive, who spoke to Luke Harding on condition of anonymity, said the Russians were shelling the factory from surrounding villages and roads in a bid to up the ante 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 of occupied Crimea and to cut it off from Ukrainian homes. One reactor has already been destroyed. It’s a macabre game of radioactive Russian roulette, set in a country that experienced the Chernobyl atomic disaster in 1986.
And Sabbagh in Kyiv covered the moment when Zelenskiy swore his strength would target Russian soldiers who shot at or from the factory.
Russia is using “open nuclear blackmail,” Zelenskiy claimed. A “terrorist state”, it threatened the “entire world” with Armageddon. He urged the UN and the international community to do something.
Ukraine aims to create chaos within Russian forces, says Zelenskiy adviser
Ukraine is engaged in a counter-offensive aimed at creating “chaos within the Russian forces” by hitting the invaders’ supply lines deep in the occupied territories, according to a key adviser to the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Mykhailo Podolyak said And Sabbagh and Luke Harding there could be more attacks in the “next two or three months” similar to those that hit Crimea.
Speaking from presidential offices in Kyiv, Podolyak said: “Our strategy is to destroy logistics, supply lines and ammunition depots and other objects of military infrastructure. This creates chaos within their own forces.
The adviser, often described as the country’s third most powerful figure, said Kyiv’s approach ran counter to Moscow’s use of blunt artillery power to gain territory in the region. Donbass in the east, which saw Russian troops destroy cities such as Mariupol and Sievierodonetsk in order to gain territory.
“So Russia has kind of taught everyone that a counter-offensive requires huge amounts of manpower like a giant fist and goes in one direction,” he said, but “a Ukrainian counter-offensive is very different. We are not using the tactics of the 60s and 70s, of the last century.
‘Referendum is not good’: Occupied Kherson looks to uncertain future
“A city with Russian history,” proclaim billboards across the Ukrainian city of Kherson, which has been occupied by the Russian army since the first days of March. Others display the Russian flag or quotes from Vladimir Poutine.
Over the past five months, Moscow has appointed an occupation administration to rule 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 the next step in the Kremlin’s plan is a referendumto add a dubious sense of legality to these facts on the ground and create a pretext to bring Kherson and other occupied parts of southern Ukraine into Russia, using an updated version of the 2014 Crimea handbook.
“You must remember that there was never any question in Kherson of a referendum; no one had thought of 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 and Pjotr Sauer.
Calls grow for a Russian visa ban
Thousands of Russians flocked to Europe on short-term visas since the country invaded Ukraine, Andre Roth and Pjotr Sauer report.
Some have sought to escape the crackdown, while the summer has brought Russian tourists simply looking to escape to the beach. Now some European politicians are calling for the end of short-term visas which allow Russians to vacation in the EU as the war in Ukraine rages on.
“They need to see a free world,” said Ilya Krasilshchik, a Russian online publisher who was threatened with legal action in Russia for opposing the war and who is currently in Europe. “The experience of the Soviet Union shows that closing borders does not lead to the overthrow of the regime.”
The son of a Russian businessman, who holds a British passport, said wealthy Russians are likely to find a way around any ban. “The elite will always find a way to get to Europe,” he said. “A lot of my generation went to school here. We have lived in the West long enough to receive residence permits or a second passport… There will always be loopholes for those who have money.