Since the invasion of Ukraine more than eight months ago, Poland has aided the neighboring country and millions of its refugees — both to ease their suffering and to help guard against the war spilling into the rest of Europe. But a missile strike that killed two men Tuesday in a Polish village close to the Ukrainian border brought the conflict home and added to the long-suppressed sense of vulnerability in a country where the ravages of World War II are well remembered. “The thing that I dread most in life is war. I don’t want to ever experience that,” said Anna Grabinska, a Warsaw woman who has extended help to a Ukrainian mother of two small children. One of the men killed in Przewodow was actively helping refugees from Ukraine who had found shelter in the area. NATO and Polish leaders say the missile was most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack. Now shaken Poles fear for their future, and political commentators warn that the strike should not be allowed to hurt relations with Ukraine, which have recently grown closer through Poland’s solidarity. “There is fear, anxiety for what will happen the next night or the next day,” villager Kinga Kancir said. When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, millions of Poles dropped what they were doing to help. They took time off work and rushed to the border to offer strangers rides in their cars and places in their homes. They stood in the cold and served soup. Polish mothers left baby prams at a railway station at the border for fleeing Ukrainian mothers they would never meet. People acted on humanitarian impulse, but their generosity was also a conscious contribution to the Ukrainian war effort. By keeping Ukrainian women and children safe, the Poles ensured more men could fight Russian forces. Poland has a long history of conflict with Moscow. Russia was one of the three powers that divided Poland in the 18th century and — jointly with Austria and Prussia — erased it from Europe’s maps for more than 100 years, brutally suppressing drives for freedom. After World War II, Poland was an unwilling part of the East Bloc and remained under Moscow’s domination for over four decades, until the Poles peacefully toppled the communist government. In their current solidarity with Ukraine, many Poles put aside historical grievances rooted in ethnic conflict, including oppression of Ukrainians by Poles and a brutal massacre by Ukrainians of some 100,000 Poles during World War II in regions not far from Przewodow. Read more: Poland, NATO say missile strike wasn't a Russian attack The Polish government offered temporary accommodations and financial aid to refugees and gave money to Poles who housed them. The refugees also receive access to free state medical care, school for their children and help finding jobs. The war changed a lot for Poland too. It drew the world’s attention to Warsaw, where top leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden came to show their support for Ukraine and for Poland’s aid efforts. The conflict has strengthened Poland’s ties with its NATO allies, especially with the U.S., which sent thousands of troops to southeast Poland, close to the Ukrainian border, as Poland became a conduit for weapons sent from the West to Ukraine. The world’s humanitarian and medical efforts also pass through Poland. Russia’s aggression has pushed Warsaw to increase the country’s defense budget and spend billions of dollars on weapons from the U.S. and South Korea. Poland is also actively supporting Ukraine’s aspirations to strengthen its ties with the West and become part of the European Union. But as the war has dragged on, some Poles have become exhausted. Many are tired of hosting strangers in their homes and paying skyrocketing energy costs. They complain that Ukrainians have taken jobs from Poles and left some families without places in public kindergartens. The huge demand for housing has pushed up rents in big cities. As winter approaches, there are concerns that the grumbling could grow louder. The deputy editor of Rzeczpospolita, a major daily newspaper, voiced concerns that bitterness over the missile deaths could become a pretext to weaken Poland’s commitment to Ukraine or to drive a wedge between the two neighbors. “Unfortunately, there are already voices that would like to use this tragedy to make Poland and Ukraine quarrel. And that would be absolutely against our national interest,” Michal Szuldrzynski wrote in an opinion piece published Thursday. Read more: Russian missiles cross into Poland during strike on Ukraine, killing 2 “By defending their independence, Ukrainians defend the West, including Poland. Therefore, our response to the tragedy in Przewodow should be not sulking at Ukraine, but even stronger support to increase its chances of driving the aggressor out of its country,” Szuldrzynski wrote. A spokesman for Poland’s main ruling party, Radoslaw Fogiel, on Thursday reiterated Poland’s support for Ukraine and stressed that responsibility for the war rests entirely with Russia. Fogiel warned that any discord between Warsaw and Kyiv would be in Moscow’s interests. Polish President Andrzej Duda visited the site of the missile strike and talked to investigators. “There is a war across our border. Russia fired hundreds of missiles, Ukraine was defending itself. Nobody wanted to hurt anyone in Poland,” Duda said. “This is our common tragedy.” In Przewodow, a farming community of some 500 people about 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the border with Ukraine, villagers were in shock when the missile killed two employees of a grain-drying facility, men they had known, at least by sight. “Today we have a new situation that is very hard for us, and especially difficult for our children,” said Ewa Byra, the director of the village school. The children kept asking: “Are we safe here so close to the border?” and “Are our parents safe?” Byra told The Associated Press. The primary school suspended classes and offered psychological counseling for families. “There is sadness because two people were killed here, and that is not a regular thing to happen in such a small village,” observed Kancir, 24, a mother of two small children who said one of the men who was killed lived just across the road from her apartment building. The two men, ages 60 and 62, shared the same first name: Bogdan. One was the husband of a school staff member, and the other the father of a recent pupil. One was a warehouseman at the grain-drying facility; the other was the tractor driver. One of them helped bring food and clothes to Ukrainian refugees and drive them to local offices to help them with the paperwork, said Stanisław Staszczuk, the county secretary. In the aftermath, villagers are intimidated by the huge police presence in their usually quiet home. “It is very hard to accept this, what happened, because it has always been quiet, quiet. Nothing was ever going on here, and all of a sudden there is a world sensation,” Kancir said.
A wartime agreement that unblocked grain shipments from Ukraine and helped temper rising global food prices will be extended by four months, the United Nations and other parties to the deal said Thursday, preventing a price shock to some of the world’s most vulnerable countries where many are struggling with hunger. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the 120-day extension a “key decision in the global fight against the food crisis.” Struck during Russia’s war in Ukraine, the initiative established a safe shipping corridor in the Black Sea and inspection procedures to address concerns that cargo vessels might carry weapons or launch attacks. The deal that Ukraine and Russia signed in separate agreements with the U.N. and Turkey on July 22 was due to expire Saturday. Russia confirmed the extension but said it expected progress on removing obstacles to the export of Russian food and fertilizers. Ukraine and Russia are key global suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other food to countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia where millions of impoverished people lack enough to eat. Russia was also the world's top exporter of fertilizer before the war. A loss of those supplies following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine had pushed up global food prices and fueled concerns of a hunger crisis in poorer countries. While the extension prevents a price shock in developing nations that spend far more on food and energy than richer countries, threats persist from droughts in places like Somalia and the weakening of currencies around the world, which makes buying imported grain more expensive. “I was deeply moved to know that in Istanbul, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and the U.N. had come to an agreement for the rollover of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, allowing for the free exports of Ukrainian grains,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. The Turkish Defense Ministry said the decision to extend the deal came after two days of talks in Istanbul between delegations from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the U.N. that were held in a “positive and constructive” atmosphere. Russia had voiced dissatisfaction with the deal facilitating exports of Russian grain and fertilizer, hinting that it might not approve an extension and even briefly suspending its part of the deal late last month. It cited risks to its ships following what it alleged was a Ukrainian drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Although Western sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine did not target food exports, many shipping and insurance companies were reluctant to deal with Moscow, either refusing to do so or greatly increasing the price. Guterres said the U.N. was “fully committed” to removing hurdles to shipping food and fertilizer from Russia. The United Nations has been working to overcome issues related to insurance, access to ports, financial transactions and shipping for Russian vessels, according to a U.N. official who was not authorize to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the insurance issue has mainly been resolved in recent days. Russia has offered to donate 260,000 metric tons of fertilizer stored in European ports to farmers in the developing world who have been priced out of the fertilizer market because of shortages, and the official said the first ship is slated to leave the Netherlands on Monday for Mozambique, where the fertilizer will go by land to Malawi. Further shipments are expected from Belgium and Estonia, the official said. Read more: Russia to suspend UN-brokered grain deal with Ukraine The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow had allowed the extension to take effect “without any changes in terms and scope.” It said Russia noted the “intensification” of U.N. efforts to hasten Russian exports. “All these issues must be resolved within 120 days for which the ‘package deal’ is extended,” the ministry said. During talks on the extension, the sides discussed possible additional measures to “deliver more grain to those in real need,” the ministry added, apparently to address Russian complaints that most of the grain has ended up in richer nations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested Thursday that wheat from Russia could be turned into flour in Turkey and shipped to African nations in need. U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said last month that 23% of the exports from Ukraine under the grain deal have gone to lower- or lower-middle-income countries and 49% of all wheat shipments have gone to such nations. Markets were pleasantly surprised by the extension, said Ian Mitchell, co-director of the Europe program at the Center for Global Development who specializes in agriculture and food security. Following the announcement, wheat futures prices dropped 2.6% in Chicago. “Ukraine and Russia are such important grain exporters that the rest of the market can’t fully substitute for the complete absence of Ukrainian grain,” he said. “So that deal is going to matter to food prices significantly, even if the volumes are not what they were before the invasion.” He said, however, that uncertainty is “unhelpful in this deal.” Toward the end of the four-month extension, markets will “price in the risk that it wasn’t extended, and prices will rise a little bit again.” Arnaud Petit, executive director of the International Grains Council, said the Black Sea region produces some of the world's cheapest wheat and securing those supplies prevents a price shock to developing nations. There have been good harvests in the region, contributing to an expected 10 million more tons of wheat worldwide compared with last year, he said. The extension means that Ukrainian farmers can plan to plant. Petit called the extension a building block in “an unstable region where things can change on a daily basis.” Read more: Russia rejoins key deal on wartime Ukrainian grain exports However, when it comes to food prices, trade movement isn’t as important as currencies around the world weakening against a strong U.S. dollar, which commodities like wheat and other grain are priced in, Petit said. The council calculated that for Ghana, which mainly imports its wheat from Canada, the price of wheat in dollars from Canada has been largely stable for two years. But changing into local currency translated to a 70% price hike. Global food prices declined about 15% from their March peak after the grain initiative was adopted in July. “With the delivery of more than 11 million tons of grains and foodstuffs to those in need via approximately 500 ships over the past four months, the significance and benefits of this agreement for the food supply and security of the world have become evident,” Turkey's Erdogan said.
Russia’s military announced Wednesday that it’s withdrawing from Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson and nearby areas, in what would be another in a series of humiliating setbacks for Moscow’s forces in the 8-month-old war. Ukrainian authorities did not immediately confirm the move — and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has suggested in recent days that the Russians were feigning a pullout from Kherson in order to lure the Ukrainian army into an entrenched battle. Zelenskyy called attempts to convince civilians to move deeper into Russian-controlled territory “theater.” The top Russian military commander in Ukraine, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, reported to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday that it was impossible to deliver supplies to the city of Kherson and other areas on the western bank of the Dnieper River that it lies on. Shoigu agreed with his proposal to retreat and set up defenses on the eastern bank. The withdrawal from Kherson — which sits in a region of the same name that Moscow illegally annexed — would be another significant setback. The city, with a prewar population of 280,000, is the only regional capital to be captured by Russian forces since the Feb. 24 invasion began. Ukrainian forces had zeroed in on the strategic industrial city, which sits on the Dnieper River that divides the region and the country itself. During the summer, Ukrainian troops launched relentless attacks to reclaim parts of the larger province. Read more: Impact of Russia-Ukraine War on Asia’s climate goals More than 70,000 residents were evacuated in late October, along with members of the Kremlin-installed regional government, according to the Moscow-appointed officials, although Ukrainian officials questioned the claim. The remains of Grigory Potemkin, the Russian general who founded Kherson in the 18th century, also were reportedly moved from the city’s St. Catherine’s Church. The city and parts of the surrounding region were seized in the opening days of the conflict as Russian troops pushed their attack north from Crimea — the area illegally annexed by the Kremlin in 2014. In recent months, Ukraine used U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers to repeatedly hit a key bridge on the Dnieper in Kherson and a large dam upstream that is also used as a crossing point. The strikes forced Russia to rely on pontoons and ferries that also were targeted by Ukraine. The Russian announcement came as villages and towns in Ukraine saw more heavy fighting and shelling Wednesday. At least nine civilians were killed and 24 others were wounded in 24 hours, the Ukrainian president’s office said. It accused Russia of using explosive drones, rockets, heavy artillery and aircraft to attack eight regions in the country’s southeast. Ukrainian and Russian forces also clashed overnight over Snihurivka, a town about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the southern city of Kherson. The president’s office said widespread Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy system continued. Two cities not far from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant were shelled overnight, it said. More than 20 residential buildings, an industrial plant, a gas pipeline and a power line were reportedly damaged in Nikopol, which lies across the Dnieper River from the the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Read more: Russian envoy hopes war in Ukraine ends soon: Hasan Further west, in the Dnipropetrovsk region, the Ukrainian governor reported “massive” overnight strikes with exploding Iranian-made drones that wounded four energy company workers in the city of Dnipro. “Attacks on civilian infrastructure are war crimes in themselves. The Kremlin is at war with Ukrainian civilians, trying to leave millions of people without water and light (for them) to freeze in the winter,” Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said on Ukrainian TV.
Nine-year-old Artem Panchenko helps his grandmother stoke a smoky fire in a makeshift outdoor kitchen beside their nearly abandoned apartment block. The light is falling fast and they need to eat before the setting sun plunges their home into cold and darkness. Winter is coming. They can feel it in their bones as temperatures drop below freezing. And like tens of thousands of other Ukrainians, they are facing a season that promises to be brutal. Artem and his grandmother have been living without gas, water or electricity for around three weeks, ever since Russian missile strikes cut off the utilities in their town in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region. For them and the few other residents that remain in the complex in Kivsharivka, bundling up at night and cooking outdoors is the only way to survive. “It’s cold and there are bombings,” Artem said Sunday as he helped his grandmother with the cooking. “It’s really cold. I’m sleeping in my clothes in our apartment.” More Russian strikes on Monday in Kyiv, the capital, and other Ukrainian cities by drones and missiles that targeted power plants have added to the general sense of foreboding about the coming winter. As the freeze sets in, those who haven’t fled from the heavy fighting, regular shelling and months of Russian occupation in eastern Ukraine are desperately trying to figure out how to dig in for the cold months. In the nearby village of Kurylivka, Viktor Palyanitsa pushes a wheelbarrow full of freshly cut logs along the road toward his house. He passes a destroyed tank, the remnants of damaged buildings and the site of a 300-year-old wooden church that was leveled as Ukrainian forces fought to liberate the area from Russian occupiers. Palyanitsa, 37, said he’s gathered enough wood to last the entire winter. Still, he planned to begin sleeping beside a wood-burning stove in a rickety outbuilding and not his home, since all the windows in his house have been blown out by flying shrapnel. “It’s not comfortable. We spend a lot of time on gathering wood. You can see the situation we’re living in,” Palyanitsa said, quietly understating the dire outlook for the next several months. Authorities are working to gradually restore electricity to the area in the coming days, and repairs to water and gas infrastructure will come next, according to Roman Semenukha, a deputy with the Kharkiv regional government. “Only after that will we be able to begin to restore heating,” he said. Authorities were working to provide firewood to residents, he added, but had no timeline for when the utilities would be restored. Standing beside his pile of split wood, Palyanitsa was not waiting for government help. He said he didn’t expect heating to be restored anytime soon, but that he feels ready to fend for himself even once winter sets in. “I have arms and legs. So I’m not scared of the cold, because I can find wood and heat the stove,” he said.
Even as the Kremlin moved to absorb parts of Ukraine in a sharp escalation of the conflict, the Russian military suffered new defeats that highlighted its deep problems on the battlefield and opened rifts at the top of the Russian government. The setbacks have badly dented the image of a powerful Russian military and added to the tensions surrounding an ill-planned mobilization. They have also fueled fighting among Kremlin insiders and left Russian President Vladimir Putin increasingly cornered. Here is a look at the latest Russian losses, some of the reasons behind them and the potential consequences. STRING OF DEFEATS IN THE NORTHEAST, SOUTH Relying on Western-supplied weapons, Ukraine has followed up on last month’s gains in the northeastern Kharkiv region by pressing deeper into occupied areas and forcing Russian troops to withdraw from the city of Lyman, a key logistical hub. The Ukrainian army has also unleashed a broad counteroffensive in the south, capturing a string of villages on the western bank of the Dnieper River and advancing toward the city of Kherson. The Ukrainian gains in the Kherson region followed relentless strikes on the two main crossings over the Dnieper that made them unusable and forced Russian troops on the western bank of the Dnieper to rely exclusively on pontoon crossings, which also have been repeatedly hit by the Ukrainians. Phillips P. O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews, predicted more Russian failures in Kherson, noting that it’s “hard to stabilize a line when your logistics are stretched, your troops are exhausted and your opponent is much, much smarter.” Pressed against the wide river and suffering severe supply shortages, Russian troops face a looming defeat that could set the stage for a potential Ukrainian push to reclaim control of the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014. Read: Ukraine says Russia smuggling its grain; Moscow says allegation “baseless” MILITARY SHORTAGES AND COMMAND WOES Military reporters and bloggers embedded with Russian troops in Ukraine have painted a bleak picture of an ill-equipped and poorly organized force under incompetent command. With the war in its eighth month, the Russian military suffers from an acute shortage of personnel, lack of coordination between units and unstable supply lines. Many Russian units also have low morale, a depressed mood that contrasts sharply with Ukraine’s well-motivated forces. Unlike the Ukrainian military, which has relied on intelligence data provided by the U.S. and its NATO allies to select and strike targets, the Russian army has been plagued by poor intelligence. When Russian intelligence spots a Ukrainian target, the military engages in a long process of securing clearance to strike it, which often drags on until the target disappears. Russian war correspondents particularly bemoaned the shortage of drones and noted that Iranian-supplied drones have not been used for maximum effectiveness due to the poor selection of targets. KREMLIN CALLS UP MORE TROOPS, ANNEXES TERRITORY Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the Ukrainian counteroffensive by ordering a partial military mobilization, which aims to round up at least 300,000 reservists to beef up forces along the 1,000-kilometer front line in Ukraine. At the start of the invasion, Ukraine declared a sweeping mobilization, with a goal of forming a 1 million-member military. Russia until that moment had tried to win the war with a shrinking contingent of volunteer soldiers. The U.S. put the initial invading force at up to 200,000, and some Western estimates put Russian casualties as high as 80,000 dead, wounded and captured. While the hawkish circles in Moscow welcomed the mobilization as long overdue, hundreds of thousands of Russian men fled abroad to avoid being recruited, and protests flared up across the country, raising new challenges to the Kremlin. Fresh recruits posted images showing them being forced to sleep on the floor or even in the open air. Some reported being handed rusty weapons and told to buy medical kits and other basic supplies themselves. In a tacit recognition of supply problems, Putin dismissed a deputy defense minister in charge of military logistics. Read: If Putin deploys nuclear weapons in Ukraine, US will destroy Russia’s forces: Ex-CIA director The mobilization offers no quick fix for Russia’s military woes. It will take months for the new recruits to train and form battle-ready units. Putin then upped the ante by abruptly annexing the occupied regions of Ukraine and voicing readiness to use “all means available” to protect them, a blunt reference to Russia’s nuclear arsenal. RIFTS OPEN UP AT THE TOP In an unprecedented sign of infighting in the higher echelons of the government, the Kremlin-backed regional leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has scathingly criticized the top military brass, accusing them of incompetence and nepotism. Kadyrov blamed Col. Gen. Alexander Lapin for failing to secure supplies and reinforcements for his troops that led to their retreat from Lyman. He declared that the general deserves to be stripped of his rank and sent to the front line as a private to “wash off his shame with his blood.” Kadyrov also directly accused Russia’s top military officer, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, of covering up Lapin’s blunders — a pointed attack that fueled speculation that the Chechen leader might have forged an alliance with other hawkish members of the Russian elite against the top military leadership. In a blunt statement, Kadyrov also urged the Kremlin to consider using low-yield nuclear weapons against Ukraine to reverse the course of the war, a call that appeared to reflect the growing popularity of the idea among the Kremlin hawks. In a show of continuing support for Kadyrov, Putin promoted him to colonel general to mark his birthday, a move certain to anger the top brass. And while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described Kadyrov’s statement as overly emotional, he strongly praised the Chechen leader’s role in the fighting and his troops’ valor. In another sign of intensifying dissent at the top, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a millionaire businessman dubbed “Putin’s chef,” lashed out at the governor of St. Petersburg, charging that his failure to provide assistance for Prigozhin’s Wagner private security company amounts to supporting Ukraine. Some other members of the Russian elite offered quick support for Kadyrov and Prigozhin, who have increasingly served as frontmen for the hawkish circles in Moscow. Read: Impact of Russia-Ukraine War on Asia’s climate goals Retired Lt. Gen. Andrei Gurulev, a senior member of the lower house of Russian parliament, strongly backed the Chechen leader, saying that the Russian defeat in Lyman was rooted in the top brass’ desire to report only good news to Putin. “It’s a problem of total lies and positive reports from top to bottom,” he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday called for strong political commitment and global solidarity to face the challenges caused by the Ukraine war and other overlapping crises. “.... no single country can tackle these challenges alone by itself. At this moment, what we need the most is strong political commitment and global solidarity,” she said. The prime minister said this in a statement at a Roundtable convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres together with the GCRG (Global Crisis Response Group) Champions here in New York. She said the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine and other overlapping crises have left deep scars in the societies and economies, especially in developing countries. “This has added many new challenges to our COVID recovery efforts, and SDGs implementation process,” she said. She thanked the UN Secretary General for mobilizing the UN system to respond to the crises. In this regard, she commended the work of the GCRG steering committee. The premier mentioned that the three policy briefs produced before the roundtable provided important policy directions, and all stand ready to work with other partners to advance the right policy options to emerge out of these crises. Talking about Bangladesh, she said the government has taken concrete fiscal and monetary measures to ensure macro-economic stability and control inflation. “Our social-safety-net programs have been expanded manifold. There is targeted support for agriculture, MSMEs, and other vulnerable sectors,” she said. She also mentioned that the government has also adopted specific plans to increase the share of the renewables in the country’s energy mix. Hasina shared six specific thoughts to face the challenges of the present crises. First, she said, "we need to address the volatility of the global financial and economic outlook." The G-7, G-20, OECD, IFIs, MDBs should now scale up efforts to address the immediate concerns, she added. “These include lack of SDGs financing, limited fiscal space, declining ODA, and debt servicing," she said. Second, Sheikh Hasina commended the Secretary General for his pivotal role in the Black Sea Grain initiative. “We commit to support any such future initiatives for keeping food production and delivery system out of the harm’s way during conflicts," she said. “Third, we need bold and comprehensive measures to revitalize global trade. It is imperative to ensure fair share of low and middle-income countries in global trade and export earnings.” Fourth, she said, there should be increased investments in the agriculture sector of the developing countries to enhance productivity, and for effective food storage and distribution systems. “We need more G2G and B2B collaboration for creating new business opportunities, targeted technology support, enhanced ODA, and concessional financing," the PM added. Fifth, she said, "We need to make the global architecture for climate cooperation more effective and just." “We should seize the opportunity of the upcoming COP-27 to address the concerns of the most vulnerable countries. We wish to work with our partners for creating necessary impetus for addressing energy security issue in a comprehensive manner.” Finally, Sheikh Hasina said, "We do need to find ways and means to bring an amicable end to this blood-soaked disastrous crises." The sanctions and countersanctions are deeply hurting people around the globe, more so, those in the countries at direct conflict, and those in developing and least developed world, she observed. Also read: Bring more women in decision-making leadership for a crisis-free world: PM Hasina
As Russia's war on Ukraine drags on, U.S. security assistance is shifting to a longer-term campaign that will likely keep more American military troops in Europe into the future, including imminent plans to announce an additional roughly $3 billion in aid to train and equip Ukrainian forces to fight for years to come, U.S. officials said. U.S. officials told The Associated Press that the package is expected to be announced Wednesday, the day the war hits the six-month mark and Ukraine celebrates its independence day. The money will fund contracts for drones, weapons and other equipment that may not see the battlefront for a year or two, they said. The total of the aid package — which is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative — could change overnight, but not likely by much. Several officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the aid before its public release. Unlike most previous packages, the new funding is largely aimed at helping Ukraine secure its medium- to long-term defense posture, according to officials familiar with the matter. Earlier shipments, most of them done under Presidential Drawdown Authority, have focused on Ukraine’s more immediate needs for weapons and ammunition and involved materiel that the Pentagon already has in stock that can be shipped in short order. In addition to providing longer-term assistance that Ukraine can use for potential future defense needs, the new package is intended to reassure Ukrainian officials that the United States intends to keep up its support, regardless of the day-to-day back and forth of the conflict, the officials said. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted the more extended focus Tuesday as he reaffirmed the alliance’s support for the conflict-torn country. Read: Russia may be in Ukraine to stay after 100 days of war “Winter is coming, and it will be hard, and what we see now is a grinding war of attrition. This is a battle of wills, and a battle of logistics. Therefore we must sustain our support for Ukraine for the long term, so that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation,” Stoltenberg said, speaking at a virtual conference about Crimea, organized by Ukraine. Six months after Russia invaded, the war has slowed to a grind, as both sides trade combat strikes and small advances in the east and south. Both sides have seen thousands of troops killed and injured, as Russia’s bombardment of cities has killed countless innocent civilians. There are fears that Russia will intensify attacks on civilian infrastructure and government facilities in Ukraine in the coming days because of the independence holiday and the six-month anniversary of the invasion. Late Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and the State Department issued a new security alert for Ukraine that repeated a call for Americans in the country to leave due to the danger. “Given Russia’s track record in Ukraine, we are concerned about the continued threat that Russian strikes pose to civilians and civilian infrastructure,” it said. To date, the U.S. has provided about $10.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including 19 packages of weapons taken directly from Defense Department stocks since August 2021. U.S. defense leaders are also eyeing plans that will expand training for Ukrainian troops outside their country, and for militaries on Europe’s eastern and southern flanks that feel most threatened by Russia’s aggression.
Danyk Rak enjoys riding his bike, playing soccer and quiet moments with the family’s short-legged dog and two white cats, Pushuna and Lizun. But at age 12, his childhood has been abruptly cut short. His family's home was destroyed and his mother seriously wounded as Russian forces bombarded Kyiv’s suburbs and surrounding towns in a failed effort to seize the capital. Six months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, and with no end to the conflict in sight, The Associated Press revisited Danyk as well as a police officer and an Orthodox priest whose lives have been upended by war. “I WANT TO BE AN AIR FORCE PILOT” Tears come to Danyk’s eyes as his mother, Luda, recalls being pulled from the rubble, covered in blood, after shrapnel tore through her body and smashed her right foot. Twenty-two weeks after she was wounded, she’s still waiting to have her foot amputated and to be fitted with a prosthetic. She keeps the piece of shrapnel surgeons removed during one of her many operations. Danyk lives with his mother and grandmother in a house near Chernihiv, a town 140 kilometers (nearly 90 miles) north of Kyiv, where a piece of tarp covers the broken bedroom windows. He sells milk from the family's cow that grazes in the nearby fields. A handwritten sign wrapped in clear plastic on the front gate reads: “Please buy milk to help my mother who is injured." “My mother needs surgery and that’s why I have to help her. I have to help my grandmother too because she has heart problems,” Danyk said. Before schools reopen on Sept. 1, Danyk and his grandmother have been joining volunteers several days a week clearing the debris from buildings damaged and destroyed in the Russian bombardment outside Chernihiv. On the way, he stops at his old house, most of it smashed to the foundations. “This was my bedroom,” he says, standing next to scorched mattress springs that protrude from the rubble of bricks and plaster. Polite and soft spoken, Danyk says his father and stepfather are both fighting in the Ukrainian army. “My father is a soldier, my uncles are soldiers and my grandfather was a soldier, too. My stepfather is a soldier and I will be a soldier,” he says with a look of determination. “I want to be an air force pilot.” “THIS BRIDGE WAS THE ROAD FROM HELL” Before the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv and surrounding areas on April 2, suburbs and towns near the city’s airport were pounded by rockets, artillery fire and aerial bombardment in an effort to break the Ukrainian defenses. Entire city blocks of apartments were blackened by the shelling in Irpin, just 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of the capital, along a route where police Lt. Ruslan Huseinov patrolled daily. Read:Ukraine soccer league defies Russian war to begin season Some of the most dramatic scenes from the early stages of the war were of the evacuation from Irpin underneath a destroyed highway bridge, where thousands escaped the relentless attacks. Huseinov was there for 16 days, organizing crossings where the elderly were carried along muddy pathways in wheelbarrows. Reconstruction work has begun on the bridge, where mangled concrete and iron bars hang over the river. Clothing and shoes from those who fled can still be seen tangled in the debris. “This bridge was the road from hell,” says Huseinov, 34, standing next to an overturned white van still lodged into a slab of smashed concrete. “We got people out of (Irpin) because conditions were terrible — with bombing and shelling,” he said. “People were really scared because many lost their children, members of their family, their brothers and sisters.” Crosses made from construction wood are still nailed to the railings of the bridge to honor those lost and the effort to save civilians. “The whole world witnessed our solidarity,” says Huseinov, who grew up in Germany and says he would never again take the good things in life for granted. “In my mind, everything has changed: My values in life,” he said. “Now I understand what we have to lose.” “BEFORE THE WAR, IT WAS ANOTHER LIFE” The floor of the Church of Andrew the Apostle has been re-tiled and bullet holes in the walls plastered over and repainted — but the horror of what happened in March lies only a few yards away. The largest mass grave in Bucha — a town outside Kyiv that has become synonymous with the brutality of the Russian attack — is behind the church. “This grave contained 116 people, including 30 women, and two children,” said Father Andriy, who has conducted multiple burial services for civilians found shot dead or killed by shelling, some still only identified as a number while the effort to name all of Bucha’s victims continues. Many of the bodies were found before the Russians pulled out of the Kyiv region, Father Andriy said. “We couldn’t bury people in the cemetery because it’s on the outskirts of the city. They left people, dead people, lying in the street. Dead people were found still in their cars. They were trying to leave but the Russians shelled them,” said Father Andriy, wearing a large cross around his neck and a dark purple cassock. “That situation lasted two weeks, and the local authorities began coming up with solutions (to help) relatives and loved ones. It was bad weather and wild animals were discovering the bodies. So something had to be done.” He decided to carry out burial services in the church yard, many next to where the bodies had been discovered. The experience , he said, has left people in the town badly shaken. “I think that, neither myself or anyone who lives in Ukraine, who witnessed the war, can understand why this happened," he said. “Before the war, it was another life.” “For now we are surviving on adrenaline,” he said. "But I’m worried that the aftermath will last decades. It will be hard to get past this and turn the page. Saying the word ‘forgive’ isn’t difficult. But to say it from your heart — for now , that’s not possible.”
Russia's military pounded residential areas across Ukraine overnight, claiming gains, as Ukrainian forces pressed a counteroffensive to try to take back an occupied southern region, striking the last working bridge over a river in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, Ukrainian authorities said Saturday. A Russian rocket attack on the city of Kramatorsk killed three people and wounded 13 others Friday night, according to the mayor. Kramatorsk is the headquarters for Ukrainian forces in the country's war-torn east. The attack came less than a day after 11 other rockets were fired at the city, one of the two main Ukrainian-held ones in Donetsk province, the focus of an ongoing Russian offensive to capture eastern Ukraine's Donbas region. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed Saturday its forces had taken control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk, the provincial capital that pro-Moscow separatists have claimed since 2014. Russian troops and the Kremlin-backed rebels are seeking to seize Ukrainian-held areas north and west of the city of Donetsk to expand the separatists' self-proclaimed republic. But the Ukrainian military said Saturday that its forces had prevented an overnight advance toward the smaller cities of Avdiivka and Bakhmut. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov also claimed that Russian strikes near Kramatorsk, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Donetsk city, destroyed a U.S.-supplied multiple rocket launcher and ammunition. Ukrainian authorities did not acknowledge any military losses but said that Russian missile strikes Friday on Kramatorsk had destroyed 20 residential buildings. Neither claim could be independently verified. The Ukrainian governor of neighboring Luhansk province, which is part of the fight over the Donbas region and was overrun by Russian forces last month, claimed that Ukrainian troops still held a small area. Writing on Telegram, Luhansk Gov. Serhii Haidai said the defending troops remained holed up inside an oil refinery on the edge of Lysychansk, a city that Moscow claimed to have captured, and also control areas near a village. “The enemy is burning the ground at the entrances to the Luhansk region because it cannot overcome (Ukrainian resistance along) these few kilometers," Haidai said. "It is difficult to count how many thousands of shells this territory of the free Luhansk region has withstood over the past month and a half.” Further west, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region reported more Russian shelling of the city of Nikopol, which lies across the Dnieper River from Europe's largest nuclear power plant. Gov. Yevhen Yevtushenko did not specify whether Russian troops had fired at Nikopol from the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Writing on Telegram, he said Saturday that there were no casualties but residential buildings, a power line and a gas pipeline were damaged. Nikopol has undergone daily bombardment for most of the past week, and a volley of shells killed three people and damaged 40 apartment buildings on Thursday, he said. Russia and Ukrainian officials have for days accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant in contravention of nuclear safety rules. Russian troops have occupied the plant since the early days of Moscow's invasion, although the facility's pre-war Ukrainian nuclear workers continue to run it. Read: Russia takes small cities, aims to widen east Ukraine battle Ukrainian military intelligence alleged Saturday that Russian troops were shelling the plant from a village just kilometers away, damaging a plant pumping station and a fire station. The intelligence directorate said the Russians had bused people into the power plant and mounted a Ukrainian flag on a self-propelled gun on the outskirts of Enerhodar, the city where the plant is located. “Obviously, it will be used for yet another provocation to accuse the armed forces of Ukraine,” the directorate said, without elaborating. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly alleged that Russian forces were cynically using the plant as a shield while firing at communities across the river, knowing that Ukrainian forces were unlikely to fire back for fear of triggering a nuclear accident. They said Russian shelling on Friday night killed one woman and injured two other civilians in the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is 122 kilometers (76 miles) from the plant. Ukraine's southern Mykolayiv region also said a woman died there in shelling. For several weeks, Ukraine's military has tried to lay the groundwork for a counter-offensive to reclaim southern Ukraine's Russian-occupied Kherson region. A local Ukrainian official reported Saturday that a Ukrainian strike had damaged the last working bridge over the Dnieper River in the region and further crippled Russian supply lines. “The Russians no longer have any capability to fully turn over their equipment,” Serhii Khlan, a deputy to the Kherson Regional Council, wrote on Facebook. His claims could not be immediately verified. In the north, five civilians were injured overnight as Russia launched missiles at the border Kharkiv region, home to Ukraine’s second-largest city. The governor of neighboring Sumy said 200 missiles were fired at his region from Russian territory in the last 24 hours. Sumy Gov. Dmytro Zhyvytsky reported a widespread loss of crops as wheat fields caught fire, but he did not mention any casualties.
Russian missile attacks on residential areas killed at least 19 people in a Ukrainian town near Odesa early Friday, authorities reported. The airstrikes pierced the cautious relief expressed a day earlier after Russian forces withdrew from a Black Sea island where they could have staged an assault on the city with Ukraine’s biggest port. Video of the pre-dawn attack showed the charred remains of buildings in the small town of Serhiivka, located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Odesa. The Ukrainian president’s office said three X-22 missiles fired by Russian bombers struck an apartment building and two campsites. “A terrorist country is killing our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, they fight civilians,” Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. Large numbers of civilians died in Russian strikes and shelling earlier in the war, including at a hospital, a theater used as a bomb shelter and a train station. Until this week, mass casualties involving residents appeared to become more infrequent as Moscow concentrated on capturing eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. Asked about Friday’s strike, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated Moscow’s claim that it wasn’t targeting residential areas during the war, which is now in its fifth month. The Russian military is trying to strike munitions depots, weapon repair factories and troop training facilities, he said. Ukraine’s Security Service said 19 people died, including two children. It said another 38, including six children and a pregnant woman, were hospitalized with injuries. Most of the victims were in the apartment building, Ukrainian emergency officials said. The airstrikes followed the pullout of Russian forces from Snake Island on Thursday, a move that was expected to potentially ease the threat to nearby Odesa, home to Ukraine’s biggest port. The island sits along a busy shipping lane. Read: Russia takes small cities, aims to widen east Ukraine battle Russia took control of it in the opening days of the war in the apparent hope of using it as a staging ground for an assault on Odesa. The Kremlin portrayed the departure of Russian troops from Snake Island as a “goodwill gesture” intended to facilitate shipments of grain and other agricultural products to Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world. Ukraine’s military claimed a barrage of its artillery and missiles forced the Russians to flee in two small speedboats. The exact number of withdrawing troops was not disclosed. The island took on significance early in the war as a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion. Ukrainian troops there reportedly received a demand from a Russian warship to surrender or be bombed. The answer supposedly came back, “Go (expletive) yourself.” Zelenskyy said that although the pullout did not guarantee the Black Sea region’s safety, it would “significantly limit” Russian activities there. “Step by step, we will push (Russia) out of our sea, our land, our sky,” he said in his nightly address. In eastern Ukraine, Russian forces kept up their push to encircle the last stronghold of resistance in Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the Donbas region. Moscow-backed separatists have controlled much of the region for eight years. Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said the Russians were trying to encircle the city of Lysychansk and fighting for control over an oil refinery on the city’s edge. “The shelling of the city is very intensive,” Haidai told The Associated Press. “The occupiers are destroying one house after another with heavy artillery and other weapons. Residents of Lysychansk are hiding in basements almost round the clock.” Read: Russia may be in Ukraine to stay after 100 days of war The offensive has failed so far to cut Ukrainian supply lines, although the main highway leading west was not being used because of constant Russian shelling, the governor said. “The evacuation is impossible,” he added. But Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Friday that Russian and Luhansk separatist forces had taken control of the refinery as well as a mine and a gelatin factory in Lysychansk “over the last three days.” Ukraine’s presidential office said a series of Russian strikes in the past 24 hours also killed civilians in eastern Ukraine - four in the northeastern Kharkiv region and another four in Donetsk province. In other developments, Zelenskyy asked Ukrainian lawmakers to fast track the legislation needed for the country to join the European Union. His government applied for EU membership after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. EU leaders made Ukraine a candidate for membership last week, acting with unusual speed and unity. The process could take years or even decades, but Zelenskyy said in a speech to lawmakers that Ukraine can’t wait. “We needed 115 days to receive the status of a EU candidate. Our path to a full-fledged membership mustn’t take decades,” he said. “You may be aware that some of your decisions will not be met with applause, but such decisions are necessary for Ukraine to advance on its path forward, and you must make them.” In Moscow on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin briefed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the conflict in Ukraine. A Kremlin statement said Putin blamed Zelenskyy’s administration and Ukraine’s Western supporters for allegedly trying “to escalate the crisis and disrupt efforts to resolve it politically and diplomatically.” Putin has denied that Russian forces targeted a shopping mall where Ukrainian authorities said a missile strike Monday killed at least 19 people and injured another 62. He claimed Thursday that the target in Kremenchuk, a city in central Ukraine, was a nearby weapons depot and that the Russian military does not take aim at places occupied by civilians.