ukraine, leaders, ukrainian, missile

Ukraine war could take years, Nato chief warns  

The Nato chief’s comments came as Ukraine’s President Zelensky vowed his forces would not give up the south of the country to Russia.

G7 summit: What countries are attending along with the EU?  

World leaders meeting in Germany with Ukraine set to dominate discussions

Moldovan President Visits Kyiv, Will Meet Zelenskiy   5%

President Maia Sandu traveled to Ukraine on June 27 in her first trip to Moldova's neighbor since start of the war and visited the towns of Bucha and Irpin -- sites of alleged Russian atrocities against civilians.

Inside Ukraines secret, helicopter rescue missions: We lost a lot of pilots   51%

A series of clandestine, against-the-odds helicopter missions to reach besieged soldiers are being celebrated in Ukraine as one of the riskiest, most heroic feats in the four-month war against Russia.

Chinas Russian oil imports surged over 50 per cent in May, boosted by discounts amid Ukraine war sanctions   -20%

China spent US$5.8 billion to import a record 8.42 million tonnes of crude oil from Russia last month, helped by discounts offered by suppliers facing Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Interview: Why Ukrainian And Russian Forces Are Preparing For A Long War  

Georgetown University's Margarita Konaev explains why it’s difficult to foresee an early end to the war in Ukraine and how Western support for Kyiv is more important than ever.

Where Russias Declinist Rage Isnt Enough   22%

The novel Jamilia tells the story of a free-spirited woman trapped in a passionless marriage who is suddenly awakened by the arrival of a mournful, lonely outsider who touches something in her soul. Set in Kyrgyzstan, it achieved a degree of fame in the West after it was praised by the French poet Louis Aragon as “the most beautiful love story in the world.” But there is a darkness to the story as well, a suggestion of violence and control, of forced marriage and a sapping of the human spirit when it is not free.

Woven throughout the novel, published in 1957, is an ambiguity—both about Jamilia, the protagonist, and the society she inhabits; one that is a loyal part of the Soviet Union but with its own connections and feelings for a past distinct from Russia. Jamilia, like Kyrgyzstan, is part of a wider family, but an outsider within it; a woman with passions and desires beyond those imposed upon her in a marriage whose circumstances are left intentionally vague—the reader doesn’t learn whether it was ever of her own choosing.

I read Jamilia last month while traveling through Kyrgyzstan, a small, extraordinarily beautiful country on the eastern edge of “the stans,” those former Soviet republics in Central Asia that seem to have collectively merged in the Western mind. While there, I was traveling through the lost Russian world of Vladimir Putin’s dreams, one he is seeking to bring back to life with appalling brutality in Ukraine. Yet throughout, it was hard to escape the feeling that the tide of the Russian world is on its way out; the waves of its civilization may still lap over its near-abroad, but not as powerfully as they once did. In Kyrgyzstan, like everywhere else, the tidal pull of other civilizations can now be felt. Like its national myths, which look south and east, to battles with Uyghurs and Afghans, the forces of nationalism, economics, culture, and religion all pull it away from Moscow. Russia can stem this tide for a while yet because its influence remains strong, but, in the long term, can it really compete?

At one point in the novel, Jamilia’s mother-in-law tells her how lucky she is to have come into such a “strong and blessed house” by marrying (or being forced to marry) her husband, Sadyk. “That’s your good fortune,” the matriarch says. This is Putin’s vision of the Russian world, a strong and blessed house with Russia as the paterfamilias, tough and occasionally harsh, but ultimately benevolent, sharing the fruits of Russian civilization with those who belong to its world. Jamilia’s mother-in-law, though, completes her remark with a warning. “Happiness, though, belongs to those who retain their honor and conscience.”

Kyrgyzstan is part of the land once known by the Russians as Turkestan, a place that sat at the confluence of competing civilizations that have poured into it over the years, whether Turkic, Mongol, Chinese, Islamic, or Russian.

It was not until the late 19th century that Russian power formally spread over Central Asia, thanks to the usual mix of apparent “invitation” and conquest met with resistance and suppression—a marriage with murky origins of its own. In Kyrgyzstan’s case, the resistance culminated in a mass uprising against conscription into the Russian army in 1916 that was put down with appalling brutality. Not until 1991 would the country win its independence, along with the rest of the old Turkestan.

Kyrgyzstan—a land of snow-capped peaks and lush valleys, yurts and minarets, roaming horses and frozen waterfalls—remained part of the Soviet Union long enough to, in some way, become Soviet. The script is still Cyrillic (Kazakhstan has switched to the Latin alphabet), and guides called Sergey and Vlad can take you to Russian Orthodox churches or valleys marked by statues of the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The national flag might depict the central opening of a yurt, but in the capital, Bishkek, it flies opposite the Soviet-era Parliament, close to an imposing statue of Lenin and a giant mural celebrating Soviet victory in the “Great Patriotic War,” Moscow’s nomenclature for World War II.

There is something astonishing about being so deep into central Asia and feeling the remains of this Russianness, a reminder of Russia’s cultural depth that is hard to comprehend in Western Europe. Russian remains the lingua franca, and Moscow retains a military base as well as close economic and diplomatic ties that mean Kyrgyzstan lies within Russia’s purported sphere of influence. While I was walking in Bishkek on the day I arrived, a four-by-four drove past with a giant Soviet flag attached to its roof.

But to visit Kyrgyzstan is also to understand that it is assuredly not Russian. Its people are mostly Turkic, not Slav; Muslim, not Christian. Although 300,000 Russians are still in Kyrgyzstan, out of a population of about 6.5 million, this is down from the more than 900,000 that lived there before the fall of the Soviet Union. Jamilia’s author, Chinghiz Aïtmatov, himself embodies many of these contradictions. Aïtmatov was a hero of the Soviet Union; he even became a Soviet ambassador to multiple European countries later in life. Yet his novels focus on his native land of Kyrgyzstan, the land for which his father was executed in 1938 after being found guilty of “bourgeois nationalism.” Aïtmatov is the country’s most celebrated author, honored with a display of his work at the national museum and with a statue nearby. Reading Jamilia, it is impossible not to speculate about the real Aïtmatov lurking beneath, to wonder what he truly thought and felt about the Russian world and his own country’s place within it. “How could someone … know what’s in a person’s soul?” Jamilia asks at one point in the book. “Nobody knows.”

Kyrgyzstan does not easily fit into Joe Biden’s democracy-versus-autocracy framing; the NGO Freedom House rates it low on both political rights and civil liberties, and both, at least based on this rating, have worsened in the past year. What Kyrgyzstan represents, instead, is something else: a country that is part of a declining Russian world, but is not Russian; a country that must incorporate its Soviet past into its own independent national story, which is broader and deeper than the one Moscow wants to tell.

To Putin, of course, the loss of Kyrgyzstan and the other Soviet republics that left Moscow’s control in 1991 forms part of what he characterizes as the wider “humanitarian disaster” that befell Russia and the people who were left behind outside their motherland. This is partly a reflection of Russian nationalism, but it’s also a longing for the role Russia used to have. Notice how Putin speaks of Nurmagomed Gadzhimagomedov, the first Russian soldier acknowledged to have died in the invasion of Ukraine, for example. Gadzhimagomedov was an ethnic Lak from Dagestan, a Russian republic in the Caucasus. Putin said that although he himself was Russian, Gadzhimagomedov’s death made him want to say: “I’m Lak, I’m Dagestani, Chechen, Ingush, Russian, Tatar, Jew, Mordvin, Ossetian.” Once, he would have been able to include Kyrgyz in that list and, of course, Ukrainian. This is the house Putin wants to rebuild.

When we visited a beautiful valley where Yuri Gagarin used to holiday, I asked our guide whether the statues of the Soviet cosmonaut meant that Kyrgyzstan still had pride in the Soviet Union. “No,” he replied. “It’s gone.” In Jamilia, Aïtmatov seems concerned with the ebbing of Kyrgyz rather than Russian culture, reflecting on the power of custom and how it can be lost. “If a storm uproots a mighty tree, the tree will never grow again,” he writes. This is Putin’s problem.

In a town called Karakol, near the Kyrgyz border with Kazakhstan and the Chinese region of Xinjiang, we visited a mosque built by Muslim-Chinese refugees, whose renovation was paid for by Turkey, according to a sign outside it proudly displaying the Kyrgyz and Turkish flags. At another site, we toured a 10th-century minaret being maintained with money from the European Union. Traveling back to the capital, I was told about speed cameras from China replacing useless ones from Belarus. In Bishkek itself, we watched as a musician sang Radiohead and Frank Sinatra in an Irish bar for a crowd of hip young Kyrgyz. To the tune of “New York, New York,” he sang: “I want to be a part of it, Bishkek, Bishkek.

Today, Russian hegemony over its old empire is being challenged not just militarily in places such as Ukraine, but everywhere, and across politics, religion, and technology. In the long run, unless Moscow snaps itself out of its declinist rage, it is hard to see how Russia can compete against this encroachment—not only of the West’s cultural appeal, but of Islam’s religious appeal, China’s economic appeal, and even Turkey’s notion of shared civilizational appeal.

The question for Russia is, right now, what does it have to attract its former colonies beyond history? It is not rich enough, advanced enough, or ideologically compelling enough. Nor does it show the kind of love that suggests it would preside over a happy family. Instead, Putin offers a harsh Russian nationalism without any of the sense of progress, possibility, and even pride that, at least at one point, the Soviet Union seemed to offer (at least to some people). Of course, what the Soviets provided was an illusion too, but there was an idea. All that is left today for Moscow, beyond its history, is coercion, control, and corruption. Which country in the world today aspires to be Belarus or Crimea, let alone the Donbas?

In Aïtmatov’s novel, set during World War II, Jamilia’s husband, Sadyk, is at the front, leaving her, the other women, and the boys in the family to harvest their crop and transport it to the nearby railroad station to be ferried west. Doing this work, Jamilia meets a man named Daniyar, a former soldier invalided out of the war, who seems distant and dreamy until, one day, he begins to sing while on their journey, songs in Kyrgyz and Kazakh, transporting Jamilia and her brother from the reality of their life.

“Before me flashes strangely familiar scenes from childhood,” Jamilia’s brother recalls. “First the delicate, smokey-blue, migratory spring clouds floating at crane’s height above the yurtas; then herds of horses racing across the ringing earth, neighing and pounding to their summer pastures, the young stallions with streaming forelocks and wild, black fire in their eyes proudly overtaking their mares, then flocks of sheep slowly spreading like lava over the foothills.”

So begins a love affair that ends with Jamilia escaping with Daniyar, leaving her husband and family in fits of rage at her betrayal. Nations are rather like Jamilia, containing within them a certain spirit that, perhaps, can be sated for a time within a strong and blessed house, but not in a weak and coercive one. But as Russia is discovering in Ukraine, they cannot ever really be happy without a sense of honor and conscience of their own.

Ukraine war: Russian strike on shopping centre a war crime - G7 leaders  

Some 1,000 civilians were inside the building at the time of the strike, Ukraine's president said.

Ukrainian troops to retreat from besieged city of Severodonetsk   25%

Ukraine's months-long defense in Severodonetsk ends, giving Russian forces control of most of Luhansk province.

Russias financial lifeline faces a new threat   100%

Russia continues to find ways to sell its oil and fund the war in Ukraine despite the West’s best efforts to strangle its revenues. But a new plan is being hatched.

Ukraine spy chief says Russia wont run out of troops, military force needed to retake cities  

Kyrylo Budanov said Moscow using reservists in a covert mobilisation to replenish its ranks in eastern Ukraine.

The Guardian view on defunding the Kremlins war machine: more must be done | Editorial   9%

G7 leaders are right to promote a global price cap on Russian oil and gas

The residential area of Kyiv hit by four missile strikes on Sunday was also targeted in April, as the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, visited the city. This time – after weeks during which the capital had not been attacked – Vladimir Putin doubtless aimed to fire a warning to G7 leaders gathering in Bavaria, and before a Nato summit in Madrid this week. A seven-year-old girl pulled injured from the rubble was among those who paid the price for Mr Putin’s brutal piece of symbolism.

Calculated outrages such as this, and Monday’s strike on a busy shopping centre in central Ukraine, must be met with unity and renewed focus from the west. This is an ominous moment in the war. The Kremlin’s strategic refocusing of its ambitions on the eastern Donbas is now leading to significant Russian territory gains in the region. Mr Putin’s cynical blockade of the Black Sea port of Odesa is, meanwhile, driving food prices up in developing nations, creating a hunger crisis which risks being associated with western sanctions on Moscow. In the west, the politics of the cost of living crisis – in part a consequence of the war – is destabilising governments and leaders who have presented a united front since February’s invasion. Understandably, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, fears that global repugnance at Russia’s actions since February may morph into wearied resignation and acceptance of a fait accompli in the east.

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European Union agrees to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership   18%

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the EU decision as ‘a unique and historic moment’.

NATO allies to boost high readiness forces to more than 300,000 amid Ukraine war   16%

NATO allies will boost high readiness forces to “well over 300,000” troops as they strengthen their defenses in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Monday.

Ukraine strikes Black Sea oil platform used as Russian military installation   12%

The attack was the first such strike against offshore energy infrastructure in Crimea since the start of Moscow’s invasion in February.

Russia may have just defaulted on its foreign debt for 1st time in more than a century   -2%

Russia is poised to default on its foreign debt for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution more than a century ago, further alienating the country from the global financial system following sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine.

In The Heart Of Russia, A Hunt For Soldiers Accused Of War Crimes In Ukraine   -4%

In Ukraine, investigators hunt for details and identities of Russian soldiers alleged to have committed war crimes. An RFE/RL reporter hunts for details about one of the soldiers in a tiny, remote village in central Russia.

Russia's 'Shadow Mobilization' Accelerates With New Ethnic Units From The North Caucasus  

Faced with a deepening personnel crisis for its war in Ukraine, Russian authorities are recruiting from republics in the North Caucasus and looking to form extra units along ethnic lines.

Putin to take first foreign trip since February   12%

President Vladimir Putin will visit Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in first trip abroad since the launch of the Russian offensive in Ukraine
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Ukraine war: Inside Ukraine's International Legion of foreign fighters   -12%

The BBC speaks to some of the thousands of foreign soldiers who have joined the fight against Russia.

A WWII refugee from Ukraine links Putins war to Stalins famine   60%

Can an in-depth look at history keep us from repeating its mistakes? Our contributor hopes familiarity with the Holodomor, or famine, in Soviet Ukraine will prompt an honest look at today’s war.

G7 to ban Russian gold imports, choking key market for Putin  

The United States said yesterday that the G7 group of nations will ban imports of Russian gold with the aim of tightening sanctions screws on Moscow and crippling its war effort in Ukraine.

Ukraine war: The price of freedom is worth paying, says Boris Johnson  

Boris Johnson argues letting Russia "get away with" invading Ukraine would have "chilling" consequences.

Photos of the Week: Paddle Steamer, Floating Restaurant, Glass Bridge   -20%


Wildfires in Arizona and California, scenes from Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, fancy hats at the Royal Ascot in England, a display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in San Francisco, anti-government protests in Ecuador, heavy rainfall and flooding in India, BMX racing in the Netherlands, a ballet performance in Ukraine, lightning over Kansas City, and much more

Pentagon unveils new Ukraine weapons shipment   -10%

The US will double the number of HIMARS rocket launchers to be sent to Ukraine, as heavy artillery battles rage in Donbass
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Balkans complain about stalled EU bids as war-torn Ukraine gets candidate status   -27%

Angry Balkan leaders lashed out at the European Union over their stalled bids to join, as the EU’s decision to make Ukraine a candidate nation highlighted the region’s failure to make progress.

Russia to send nuclear-capable missiles to Belarus  

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to transfer the "conventional and nuclear versions" of the Iskander-M missile systems to neighboring Belarus in the coming months.

US lawmakers accuse Russia of 'genocide' - media  

A group of US Representatives have introduced a resolution branding Russia’s actions in Ukraine a “genocide,” with no evidence
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For a Kyiv Techno Collective, Now Everything Is About Politics   -20%

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the team behind Cxema parties have shifted its focus, but political engagement is nothing new for the artists.

The Great Cleanup Of Kyiv   18%

Scenes of everyday life have replaced the devastation caused by the aborted Russian advance on Ukraine's capital after a remarkably swift cleanup in some areas of the Kyiv region.

At Least 15 Dead In Russian Rocket Attack On Shopping Center In Ukraine   -14%

A Russian missile strike that hit a crowded shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk has killed at least 15 people and injured at least 50 others, an attack immediately condemned by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other senior Ukrainian officials.

G7 leaders return to Germany to deal with past failures  

The last G7 meeting in Germany took place in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Seven years later, leaders are back to confront the costly consequences of decisions that led up to the war in Ukraine.

Malaysias palm oil output recovery hopes dashed as fertiliser, worker shortages persist   -6%

Fertiliser prices surged over the last year on logistics snarl-ups and the Ukraine war while an intake of foreign labourers was approved, there’s a prolonged delay in getting them.

G7 Leaders Call Russian Missile Strike On Shopping Mall A War Crime, Vow To Hold Putin Responsible   -10%

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged Group of Seven leaders to do everything in their power to end Russia's invasion of his country by the end of the year as Ukraine's military says it continues to fend off an attempted encirclement in the eastern city of Lysychansk.

Zelensky tells G7 he wants Ukraine war over by end of 2022, as leaders back him for as long as it takes   -10%

Ukrainian leader does not want conflict to drag on through winter

Ukraine may suspend visa-free travel for Israelis  

Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel says Kiev is considering whether to suspend the visa-free regime for Israelis in a tit-for-tat move
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Russian missile strike hits shopping mall in central Ukraine as it happened  

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said more than a thousand people were in the Kremenchuk mall at the time of the attack.

Putin alert for signs of eroding Western unity on Ukraine  

Will inflation and energy woes crack Western unity over Ukraine? Putin likely hopes so.