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At the vegetarian-vegan restaurant Veganic in Krakow
At the vegetarian-vegan restaurant Veganic in Krakow
Esther Widmann

POZNAN — We're in an old bar mleczny, a so-called "milk bar," a gastronomic remnant from Soviet times where workers could get fed for very little. The lunch at this dining spot, situated in the central city of Poznan, will capture the essence of what would be a two-week trip around Poland. Mind you, this is Day 1.

The young couple, waiting behind the bar to take our order, do not speak English and we don't speak Polish. My hesitation, however, seems to trigger some sort of sixth sense with the owner who employs one of the two words of English she has mastered and asks me if I am "vegan" (which I am, the other half of the traveling duo being simply vegetarian). And so our journey into the vegan and vegetarian world of Polish cuisine begins with two plates of gigantic, steaming pierogi, Polish ravioli, filled with lentils (the second word our host knows).

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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