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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

From Lviv, Worrying New Signs That Belarus Is Set To Join The War

After Minsk recalled all its embassy staff from Ukraine over the weekend, additional reports now show evidence around the northwest territory that Alexander Lukashenko may be ready to join Putin in the assault on the southern neighbor.

photo of tanks firing missiles in belarus

Joint military drills last month by Belarusian and Russian troops

Niccolo' Zancan

LVIV — Here, distinguishing between what’s true and false is particularly difficult — and particularly important. The first question is to understand if something has been said to provoke a reaction.

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One local news sources in Lviv, Zaxid reported this weekend, citing Ukrainian military sources: “According to Ukrainian intelligence, in the next one or two days, Belarus will enter the war alongside Russia.”


The article continues: “Security sources affirm that the decision by now has been made by the Belarus leadership notwithstanding the opposition of the military and the public.” The article concludes that the decision to go to war despite overwhelming opposition from foot soldiers and the population: “will be a fatal error for Alexander Lukashenko.”

Minsk to Brest railway supplies

Beyond the press report, which cites anonymous sources and has a stated point of view, these three facts are certain: On Saturday, Belarus called back from Ukraine all of its remaining 11 diplomatic personnel from the embassy in Kyiv. Last Thursday, satellite photographs showed military vehicles loaded on board a train that went from the Belarus capital of Minsk towards the southern city of Brèst, the railway hub closest to Lviv. Thirdly, there are the witness accounts of many Ukrainian residents who say the roads that lead toward the border with Belarus have been fortified with barricades and new military posts.

There is more and more proof that Belarus' citizens are opposed to entering the war

Here in Lviv, locals are now looking at possible assaults on two fronts, from the south and the north. The northwestern Ukrainian city has already seen Russian missiles fired from the Black Sea, including one that destroyed a hangar at the airport. And now locals are also expecting an attack from the northern border with Belarus, extending the entire war to a third country.

At 4p.m. on Sunday the bells of all the churches in the city rang in mourning, to remember the victims of this war, which Russia has launched on Ukraine. The latest numbers add up to 902 civilians, including 115 children. But the casualties are updating by the day, and by the hour.

A woman walks by a memorial for Ukrainians killed in the 2014 revolution in Lviv

Ty Oneil/SOPA Images via ZUMA

Martial law maintained

Every detail around Lviv tells of a city bracing for an attack considered imminent. The trains are full of refugees who leave from here toward Poland, the local monuments are covered up by gigantic aluminum boxes, that would retain the rubble from any strike to help be attempt reconstruction in the future. Even the sacred vestments of the cathedral were packed in rounds and rounds of shockproof material.

Belarusian citizens are opposed to entering the war.

Merchants asked to be able to open, at least on Sunday, but Mayor Andriy Sadovyi on Saturday evening wrote a special ordinance that reaffirmed martial law. The last air alarm Sunday sounded at 5.28 p.m. In Lviv no one doubts what is about to happen, they just don’t know from where it will arrive.

Across the border in Belarus, meanwhile, there is more and more proof that the nation’s citizens are opposed to entering the war: for two days, railway workers have cut off the line that carried supplies to the Russian army and with Ukraine.

Lukashenko's loyalties

Oleksandr Kamyshyn, 37, president of Ukrainian railways, said that he made an appeal to his counterparts in Belarus, urging them not to offer support to the Russian military. “I can’t reveal the details,” Kamyshyn says, “but I am grateful for what they have done.”

His railway bosses aside, there is no doubt where Belarus strongman Lukashenko has his loyalties. On Saturday, in an interview with the Japanese channel Tbs, he declared: "Ukraine should not have nuclear weapons, it should not threaten Russia, it should not prohibit people living in Ukraine from speaking any language. I don’t believe we will have to go to war, but if Ukraine continues to intensify its attacks ... ". In the meantime, he has made another airport available for Russian fighter jets.

Thus, in this war also made up of propaganda and unverifiable declarations, something new is happening here on the Northwestern front. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces uses these simple words: "The threat of an offensive by Belarus is high." Such is the night in Lviv: curfew, sirens, waiting.

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Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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