When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Risk Of Nuclear Disaster? Just Another Tactic From Putin's Playbook

Military activity near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine has raised fears of a Chernobyl scenario. The UN Secretary-General is meeting with Ukraine’s president to discuss the situation — but threatening nuclear disaster is a tool Putin has used before.

Of the 16 nuclear power plants in the Soviet Union, four were built in Ukraine. Until recently, the most infamous of these was Chernobyl. But now, all eyes are on the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, Zaporizhzhia, located in the south of Ukraine. The plant has become the new center of war in Ukraine since it was captured by Russia on March 4. Its workers are still held hostage.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and its 15 reactors have been under occupation since April. It has effectively become a military base for the Russian army. Armored vehicles are deployed there, and missiles and artillery are launched from the territory of the nuclear plant.

Watch VideoShow less

Putin Blames U.S. For "Dragging Out" Conflict

While delivering the welcome address at the Moscow Conference on International Security on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin accused Washington of “dragging out” the conflict in Ukraine. The Russian president also mentioned the visit by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan earlier this month, calling it a “thoroughly planned provocation”. The conference, which runs from Aug. 15 to 17, is hosted by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and will include several panels on global security issues.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Putin added that Western countries were trying to extend a “NATO-like system” into the Asia Pacific region. For Putin, NATO’s expansion in Europe was one of the main causes for his invasion of Ukraine. Putin had previously accused NATO of launching an active military build-up on territories surrounding Russia during a speech to mark Russia’s Victory Day in May.

Keep reading...Show less

The Ukraine War Has Reached A Stalemate — So What Happens Now?

It's been more than 150 days of Putin's relentless invasion, and a clear-eyed view of the war now is neither side is winning. This will make bold decisions by Ukraine's allies essential to any hope for victory.

KYIV — The Ukrainian army received high-precision long-range artillery systems on July 18, prompting the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi to declare that after the occupation of the eastern cities of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk, the Armed Forces had managed to stabilize the situation.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In fact, a better way to characterize the situation is that we've been in a stalemate since June. The enemy is no longer able to actively attack, and the defenders cannot yet counter-attack.

Keep reading...Show less

Seven Battlefield Signs Russia's Army Has Hit A Wall In Ukraine

Russian troops have so far been unable to mount a decisive offensive in the east, as Ukraine records small but meaningful successes near the southern city of Kherson. This is not how Vladimir Putin had it planned.

-Analysis-

Late last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced the overthrow of the government in Kyiv as a new war goal. A few days later, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, published a new map of Ukraine, which is shown as largely dissolved into the Russian Federation.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

It is well known that Moscow understands propaganda and has increased its rhetoric since the beginning of the war. But Lavrov's regime change and Medvedev's geography class show how far the Kremlin leadership has deviated from reality.

Because the battlefield in Ukraine does not show an omnipotent Russia that can do whatever it sees fit.

On the contrary, after more than five months of war, the image of the powerful Russian Federation is becoming increasingly cracked.

Keep reading...Show less
Ukraine
Anna Akage

The Enemy Within: Why Zelensky Must Take On Ukraine's Oligarchs To Defeat Russia

Ukraine has long had an issue with oligarchs standing in the way of progress, and they have almost always been linked to the Kremlin. Now in the context of the war with Russia, President Zelensky has no choice but to tackle this problem.

When Volodymyr Zelensky was first elected president, he had two defining challenges, one from home and one from abroad: Russia’s continued aggression; taking on Ukraine’s oligarchs.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Back then, it may have seemed like the domestic challenge was the more imposing of the two, with the deep-seated corruption and grip on power of his country’s own lineup of cynical multi-millionaires and billionaires. That all changed with Russia’s all-out invasion, and Zelensky has risen to the challenge of a war leader of historic proportions.

Yet over the past few weeks, accelerated by the close-up scrutiny of Ukraine’s candidacy for EU membership, it seems that the dual challenges of Russian aggression and domestic corruption are ultimately bound together.

Watch VideoShow less
Geopolitics
Hamed Mohammadi

Iran Nuclear Deal, Another Victim In Putin's Strategy Of Chaos

Nuclear talks between Iran and the West are stalled, as Russia signs deal with Tehran for drones. But does the increasingly isolated Iranian regime risk becoming another Russian vassal like Syria or Belarus?

-Analysis-

On a trip last month to Europe, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke at the Vatican about Iran's unfinished talks with the West over its nuclear program. Tehran, he said, had proposed initiatives and shown flexibility in talks that had taken place in Vienna. According to Amir-Abdollahian, it was now time for the Americans to be "realistic" and facilitate a deal to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear deal framework.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

If his position seems to have softened, it can only be with permission from Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. And that in turn has to do with the country's dire economic conditions. Yet there is also the international context, which has been shaken up by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, though not all is as it seems.

The Iranian regime had notably softened its earlier demands that a deal must be binding for future U.S. administrations and the West must remove the Revolutionary Guards, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, from the list of international terrorist organizations.

Still, not all Iranian officials are sold on moderation: Some Western observers believe Amir-Abdollahian's positions are at odds with those of his deputy and chief Iranian negotiator in Vienna, Ali Bagheri Kani, reputedly a hardliner opposed to any negotiation on the nuclear program.

Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Hannelore Crolly

Baden-Baden Postcard: Haven For Wealthy Russians Reduced To Tourist Ghost Town

For 200 years, the Black Forest spa town of Baden-Baden has been the destination of choice for Russian tourists, with oligarchs shopping in the luxury boutiques and buying up swathes of property. Now Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has changed all that and the town's once-bustling streets are empty.

BADEN-BADEN — Some idiot hung a bag of cartridges on the door of the hotel, receptionist Juri tells us. He says it happened one night towards the end of February, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. “It had live ammunition in it,” he adds, shaking his head as though he can hardly believe it.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

The perpetrator must have had insider knowledge of the hotel world because who else would know that a nondescript three-star hotel in the center of Baden-Baden, a popular tourist destination in southwest Germany, was owned by a Russian family? That is why Juri does not want us to use his full name here or that of the hotel.

When Russia invaded Ukraine five months ago, the “most Russian town in Germany” felt the impact straightaway. The spa took down its Russian flag, and the town hall started flying a Ukrainian one.

Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Catherine Dupeyron

Ukraine War Sparks Divisions Among Israel's Russian Population

Russian speakers represent 15% of the Israeli population. And now, the war in Ukraine is bringing long-simmering tensions in their community to the surface.

ISRAEL — Tatiana was born in Russia, but her heart is with Ukraine — and not only because she has been married for 20 years to Alon Gour, who is from Kyiv.

"As soon as Putin came to power in 2000, I campaigned against him. He is a KGB officer and there are no good people in the KGB," explains the 59-year-old from Khabarovsk, a city 8,200 kilometers (5,100 miles) from Moscow and 1,000 km (620 miles) from the Sea of Japan.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Tatiana, who is not Jewish, came to Israel in 1999. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, she and her husband spend every evening and every Shabbat looking after Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Israel, and sending whatever they can to Ukraine. In their apartment in Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv, boxes ready for departure are stacked in every corner. Above the bookcase of the living room, two flags are intertwined: one in the colors of Israel, the other those of Ukraine.

Watch VideoShow less
Russia
Cameron Manley

What Is Putin’s Endgame In Odessa?

The timing and location of Russia's latest attacks shows that the southern Ukrainian city is more important than ever to the Russian leader, for symbolic and strategic reasons.

-Analysis-

When Moscow and Kyiv signed their UN-brokered "Black Sea initiative" deal Friday in Istanbul, Ukraine’s southern ports were set to reopen and resume the regular flow of wheat and maize exports.

But within hours the most important of those Ukrainian ports came under fire from a Russian missile attack. Moscow, after first denying responsibility, later claimed to having launched the strike at military targets and that no grain storage facilities had been hit.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

"The attack is connected exclusively with military infrastructure. This is in no way related to the infrastructure that is used to fulfill the agreements and export of grain," Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskovtold state-run media site Ria Novosti.

And yet, it is impossible to deny that the timing — and location — was anything but intentional.

Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Sergiy Gromenko*

Why The West Quietly Fears Russia's Defeat

Western leaders have given mixed messages on ending war in Ukraine. They fear the fallout of a power change in Moscow, and when it comes to Putin, it may be a case of "better the devil you know."

-Analysis-

KYIV — If you tried to summarize how the West feels about ending the Russian-Ukrainian war, you would be pretty surprised at the drastically varied range of responses. On the one hand, Western leaders often say that they will stand by Ukraine as long as necessary, and that Russia "must not win." And yet they also emphasize that a change of power in Russia is out of the question.

Watch VideoShow less
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Marina Alcaraz

Confronting The Dangers Of A War Reporter

Of the some 9,000 journalists believed to have arrived in Ukraine to report on the war, many were under-prepared. A course in France is now training them on how to face the harsh realities of conflict and teaching them essential survival techniques.

BEAUVAIS — The ground is soaked with blood. A young man screams, struggling to make himself heard amid the gunfire. The bullet-proof vest with the word "PRESS" emblazoned on it seems insignificant in this moment of horror. Under Russian fire, his colleague has to extract him before he bleeds to death. He only has a few seconds to decide how to transport the injured man, who is weighed down by his equipment. Just a few more seconds to evaluate the severity of the wounds. Two serious injuries, a wounded eye… There are only a few minutes to save his life by applying a tourniquet and taking his pulse before calling emergency services, which will in any case only arrive two hours later.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

The crackling of the bullets, the adrenaline, the fear and the silence that follows… the whole scene is utter chaos. Except this is not Ukraine, where the war is still raging. It's a shooting range about 75 kilometers north of Paris.

Emergency training

This simulation is the result of a course organized for journalists and technicians who work in danger zones. In May, a dozen employees of the French public broadcaster — some with experience, others without — spent a week in immersive training. This meant a few days of preparation before leaving for or returning to Ukraine.

In order to cover the war, which takes place just a few hours' flight from Paris, media organizations sent a huge amount of reporters — some 9,000 accredited journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Young freelancers also went of their own accord, sometimes without even the most basic survival knowledge.

"Ukraine has created a sort of training emergency," says Jean-Christophe Gérard, security director of media company France Médias Monde. "The 'press' vest or badge no longer offers the protection it used to.”

Yan Kadouch, an editor and participant in the course, says: "I have been on several fronts, but often behind the army. In Ukraine, I really felt unsafe. With the artillery fire, it's a lottery."

In danger zones, every decision can lead to death

In Ukraine, eight journalists have lost their lives since the start of the war and 16 have been wounded, according to numbers by RSF. The death of French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff a few weeks ago has left its mark. "He had not even taken any irresponsible risks. This tragedy reminded us how dangerous this war is," says Omar Ouahmane, a senior reporter at Radio France, who has been doing this job for years.

Patrick Chauvel, a veteran photo journalist, agrees. "Unfortunately, you don’t have to go to the front to be killed. In Ukraine, the military uses very heavy weapons, which are rarely seen elsewhere." This training was actually born out of a tragedy: the kidnapping and murder of two French journalists working in 2013 in Mali. Since 2015, this course has welcomed a total of 460 journalists and technicians from audiovisual and print media.

What war preparation involves

Participants are trained by former members of the military. The objective is not to learn how to face dangers but mainly how to avoid them. A bullet-proof vest or even a chemical suit is not enough in Ukraine. It is important to “always be vigilant,” says Michael Illouz, a security expert. “Knowing how to react in certain situation is already a good start.”

For example, in the heat of the first aid exercise, none of the trainees remembered how many shots were fired, and none thought to put on gloves before touching their colleague's wounds. A lot of the advice given is common sense: do not carry your backpack behind you in a minefield to prevent something falling out, do not step too far away from your car to relieve yourself, do not stand next to the armed forces.

To confront them with other possible situations, the journalists are placed in a messy room: an overturned table, chairs on the floor and a pack of cigarettes with a file still intact, in broad daylight. “Everything that seems incoherent should alarm you: there could be explosives,” warns Stéphane Ulhen, a former army mine expert, now a security consultant.

“In danger zones, every decision can lead to death,” he emphasizes. In 2017, three journalists working for a French television program were killed during a mine explosion in Mosul, Iraq. A big part of the training is also focused on gestures that can save a life, following the acronym MARCHE (M = Massive bleeding, A = Airway, R = Respiration, C = Circulation, H = Head & Hypothermia, E = Everything else).

“Bleeding out is the number one cause of preventable death," says Fabrice Simon-Chautemps, a former army paramedic and now a trainer. And the training is quite rigorous: the participants are, for example, capable of treating an evisceration or a thoracic wound affecting the lungs as a first aid measure.

Journalists as targets

Shortly before the terrorist attacks hit Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, a production manager had taken the course. That evening, because she lived in the neighborhood, she went to get her first aid kit and was able to save lives by applying tourniquets.

“It is essential to have first aid skills. Journalists have died because people around them did not know what to do. For example, thanks to this knowledge, I was able to compress a wound on my stomach I had gotten in Panama, with a piece of my shirt and my belt, while waiting for the paramedics that only arrived a few hours later,” says Chauvel.

Even without traveling across the world, the trainees learn how to stay safe in a large crowd. Many journalists were targeted during anti-vaccination protests in France. “A journalist has become a target in certain cases,” says Jean-Christophe Gérard. “Some media outlets assign security guards to them, but I don't think that's the solution: the job is all about going out into the field, being in contact with people, whereas the bodyguard is more likely to try to get in the way. In any case, he wouldn’t be able to do much against an angry crowd.”

But the training is also intended to make people aware of their limits. One of the participants admits never having worn a bullet-proof vest and says they are “extremely heavy” (20-26 lb). Another one is afraid of not having the physical strength to carry someone on their shoulder in case of a real injury.

“I realize that I have been lucky in the past,” says journalist Marie-Pierre Vérot, who decided to take the course. “I have already found myself in complicated situations, for example in the middle of gunfire in a house in Indonesia. My first reflex was to hide under a table, which does not really protect from bullets. I will now take further precautions and think more about possible outcomes.”

A journalist taking pictures in the village of Komyshuvakha, southern Ukraine, after it was bombarded by Russian forces

Dmytro Smoliyenko/Ukrinform/ZUMA

The fixer's role 

Many of the journalists think that the course (marketed at $4,300) should also be followed by their managers, who do not necessarily realize the potential threats, whether those are physical or digital. "Journalists often leave with their personal phones and computers full of documents. If they are captured, there is a risk of finding their sources, for example," says Guillaume Barcelo, an expert in information systems security.

In conflict zones, teams of two or three people are usually tracked by their editors, who help them manage logistics. The journalists must then follow precise protocols with prohibitions and missions. But, in the end, they are the ones who are best able to perceive the danger on the ground, along with the fixer. The fixer is a key component in war reporting. They translate, give guidance on the ground, and bring their network of contacts. In some cases, they even drive and find witnesses. In fact, they take the same risks as their Western colleagues and even risk more reprisals. A fixer in Ukraine generally costs between 250 and 350 dollars a day, but the rate can go up depending on the danger.

Some have become addicted to the field

Some of them are journalists in their own countries, while others come from civil society organizations, “but they all have a sense of resourcefulness,” says Charles Villa, a reporter who has just made a documentary on the profession. In Ukraine, Villa was "surprised to see many fixers taking up arms... Now, with the influx of foreign journalists, some of them who had never done this before are participating.” Especially women. Given the difficulty of finding the right people, some American television stations used specialized protection companies like Chiron, with bodyguards who accompanied the journalists.

If the profession of war reporter is accompanied by a hint of heroism, these journalists are not at all reckless. "Fear is our life insurance," says Omar Ouahmane, who has covered several conflicts.

“We are not looking for adrenaline," says Charles Villa, who attended a training course organized by the army in the south of France a few years ago. "War reporters are mostly reasonable and rational. They seek to emerge in terms of their career, while living extraordinary situations. Some have become addicted to the field," adds Denis Ruellan, a researcher in information and communication sciences and an author of books on war reporters.

A cellar in Chechnya

War reporters know about anxiety. Journalists or technicians in dangerous areas have all come close to serious trouble or even death. Charles Villa has risked his own life on several occasions, in Yemen, or in the Congo when he came face to face with a local warlord. Each one of them recounts with humility the moment when everything changed. Omar Ouahmane remembers a report in Sirte (a city in Libya) where the experienced Dutch photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans, was shot in front of him while crossing a street. "What saved me was that I took some time to observe before I went to follow him."

Patrick Chauvel spent a few hours in a cellar in Chechnya, sure that he was going to stay there and managed to get out by running at the right moment. Not everyone was so lucky.

So what drives war reporters to do their jobs? “I love adventure, the physical side, meeting extraordinary people, living history," answers Patrick Chauvel.

”It is in conflict zones that humanity stands out the most," adds Omar Ouahmane.That’s where we belong as journalists."

Watch VideoShow less
Ideas
Anna Akage

Wartime News And French Sunshine: A Cry In The Dark For My Precious Ukraine

Our Ukrainian journalist has another job to help pay the bills: at a luxury hotel in the South of France. It brings the stark contrast of her life right now, and the risks facing her native country, into desperately sharp relief.

-Essay-

Every day we produce a news digest about the war in Ukraine. Every day, my colleagues and I scour dozens of news sources across multiple languages; and drop what we find in the same Google Doc: the latest reports from the frontline, from Donetsk and Kyiv and the Kremlin, from Washington, Brussels and Beijing. And every day, it winds up on your screen. Day 30. Day 72. Day 146.

Every day is war.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

For four months now, in addition to contributing to this chronicling, and writing and translating articles from my native country, I have also been working as a part-time receptionist in a hotel. It’s a five-star hotel in the south of France, the place I’ve called home for the past three years.

Watch VideoShow less
EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS
chinaitalyusafrancegermany