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In The News

Ukrainian Army Makes New Gains In Regions Annexed By Russia

The Ukrainian army is pushing the front line forward in several directions.

Photo of a fireman walking among rubble after a rocket attack by Russian troops in Kharkiv

Fire after a rocket attack by Russian troops in Kharkiv

Anna Akage, Meike Eijsberg and Sophia Constantino

The Ukrainian army is pushing the front line forward in several directions, including the liberation of two more cities – Arkhangelske and Myrolyubivka – in the southern region of Kherson. There were also reports Monday of major breakthroughs by Kyiv forces along the Dnipro River in the south.

Ukraine has also made progress in the past 48 hours in the region of Luhansk. Notably, these are two of the four regions that Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had annexed on Friday.

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With these advances by Ukrainian forces, along with gains in Donetsk (see below) and Zaporizhzhia, Russia does not hold the full territory of any of the areas of occupied Ukraine that Moscow now claims as its own.

Fighting has also intensified in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where Ukraine has also made significant advances and Russia continues shelling in response.

The successful counterattacks by the Ukrainian military in Kherson and the Kharkiv region since last month has left Russian forces controlling less Ukrainian land than they did at the start of the war in February 2022, an analysis by CNN found. Russia’s first massive push overnight into February 24 allowed it to secure or advance on one fifth of Ukrainian territory, or about 119,000 square kilometers. Russia now controls roughly 3,000 square kilometers less land than it did in the first five days of the war.


Fighting, however, continues to be intense. Russia launched another rocket attack on Zaporizhzhia and two villages of the Zaporizhzhia district. Infrastructure facilities, including a rehabilitation center where children with special needs studied, were destroyed. For the moment, shelling has quieted around the nuclear plant in the region.

The Strategic Importance Of Recapturing Lyman

Photo of a woman and a dog walking past a destroyed building near the Lyman frontline

Near the Lyman frontline

Rick Mave/SOPA Images/ZUMA


Russian forces have lost control over the strategically important city of Lyman in the Donetsk region. According to British Intelligence, Moscow’s forced retreat is a crucial defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin and will put pressure on the command of the Russian army.

British intelligence explains that Lyman is important operationally because it now holds control of a key crossing of the Siverskyi Donets river, where Russia has been trying to strengthen its defenses. But, they estimated, it was defended by understaffed units as well as contingents of voluntarily mobilized reservists.

"Russia's withdrawal from Lyman is also a significant political setback (for Russia), given that it is located within the Donetsk region — a region that Russia allegedly sought to 'liberate' and which it tried to illegally annex," they added.

Annexation Process Now In Russian Parliament’s Court

Putin meeting with State Duma leaders

en.kremlin.ru


Russia's Parliament is expected today to study bills and ratification treaties to absorb Luhansk and areas of Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, the RIA Novosti news agency reports.

Last Friday, Vladimir Putin officially announced the annexation of the four Russian occupied regions of Ukraine, following what the West decried as “sham” referendums. Yesterday, the Russian Constitutional Court ruled that said “accession treaties” were in compliance with the Russian constitution.

New Poll Shows Russians Divided Between War And Peace

The changing of the honor guard at Lenin's mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow

Steve Harvey/Unsplash


Sociologists from the Russian Field gave new survey results of war sentiment in the country, with 44% of respondents supporting the idea of peace talks with Ukraine.

Yet, the almost identical number of Russians, 46%, believe that war must continue. If Putin could sign a peace agreement with Ukraine tomorrow, 75% of Russians would support this decision, and 60% of respondents would also support the decision to attack Kyiv again.

While divided over the simple question of war or peace, the results seem to show continued support for Putin as the country’s leader. The poll was conducted by telephone from September 29 to October 1 among 1,610 Russian residents.

Report: Europeans Must Cut 13% Of Gas Use This Winter, Nord Stream Leak Contained

A Nord Stream 2 employee in Germany

Jens BüTtner/dpa/ZUMA


The Paris-based International Energy Agency said on Monday in its quarterly gas report that European Union countries would need to reduce use by 13% this winter to conserve under the threat of a Russian cutoff of gas amid the war in Ukraine.

After Russia cut off most pipeline shipments, and in light of the Nord pipeline leaks over the past days, already scarce and expensive liquid gas that comes by ship could be extremely limited in supply. On Friday, the EU agreed to mandate a reduction in electricity consumption by at least 5% during peak price hours.

Russia and several European countries have been fighting over the supply of natural gas from Russia since the country's invasion of Ukraine in February, and the European Union says the Kremlin is using the flow of gas needed for energy in the region as an economic weapon. Eni, the biggest importer of Russian gas in Italy, said in a statement on its website on Saturday that it will not receive any of the gas it had ordered from Russia's Gazprom.

Authorities in Denmark said Sunday that the Nord Stream 1 pipelines have achieved stable pressure and stopped leaking natural gas into the Baltic Sea, a day after officials said the ruptured Nord Stream 2 pipelines also appeared to have stopped leaking.

Arson Attempts At Mobilization Centers Across Russia

At a recruitment center in St Petersburg

Kirill Kukhmar/TASS/ZUMA


In the Russian city of Kazan, an 18-year-old woman was arrested after throwing a Molotov cocktail into the military commissariat building where men are being forced to sign up for the draft. It is one of at least 20 attempts to burn or blow up commissariats since Putin announced mobilization.

Across the country, mobilization efforts appear to be going slowly, writes Russian-language media Meduza. As reports continue of men trying to flee the country, the local commissars are being pressured to meet quotas of draft signups, which has led to reports of recruits chosen without regard to health, age, or military experience.

Ukrainian “Ghosts Of Kyiv” Flying Ace Downed In Dogfight Over Black Sea

Ukrainian fighter jet pilot Colonel Mykhailo Matyushenko

Anatoliy Fedoruk / Facebook

From the first days of the war, ace fighter pilot dubbed “The Ghost of Kyiv” became a national legend in Ukraine. It was the “Ghost” who protected the capital from the air, destroying numerous Russian planes. Only later it was revealed that it was not one, but the group of pilots from the Ukrainian Air Force's 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade.

But there was a leader, who had been responsible for recruiting and training the new generation that ensured the successful defense: veteran Ukrainian fighter jet pilot Colonel Mykhailo Matyushenko known by the moniker Did (Grandpa).

His name was kept top-secret just until now — but on June 26, in an aerial battle over the Black Sea, the 61-year-old leader of Ghosts was killed. This information became public on Monday; Matyushenko will be buried in his hometown, which happens to be Bucha, site of some of the worst alleged Russian war crimes against local civilians.

Burkina Faso Coup Supporters Wave Russian Flags

French daily La Croix's Monday front page featuring Russian flags in Burkina Faso

La Croix

After days of violent protests against the French embassy in support of a coup by Burkina Faso’s self-declared military leader Captain Ibrahim Traore, a conditional resignation offered by President Paul-Henri Damiba to avoid further violence has been accepted.

Videos of the protests shared online showed hundreds of people supporting Traore’s takeover gathered in protest in front of the French embassy chanting in support of Russia while soldiers on armored vehicles waved Russian flags. It is unclear whether Russia is directly involved.

Earlier this year, Damiba led a coup against a civilian government that had lost support over rising violence by Islamist extremists. Damiba’s failure to stop the militant groups led to anger, especially among armed forces, in the former French territory. Since then, further divisions have emerged over whether to seek help from other international partners to combat the militants. Among those partners up for consideration was Russia. “We want cooperation with Russia. We want the departure of Damiba and France,” said Alassane Thiemtore, one of the protesters.

Ukraine’s “Tiger King” Struggles To Be Reunited With His Big Cats

Here’s a story of Gidikumar Patil, an Indian-born Ukrainian doctor with a passion for big cats. The BBC tells how the war separated Patil from his pets, and his current efforts to be reunited with his jaguar and black panther.

When the Russian invasion started, Patil — a.k.a. "Jaguar Kumar" — vowed to stay with his pets. But the hospital he was working at as an orthopedic doctor in Svavtove (a small town near Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine) quickly closed down, and was eventually destroyed by airstrikes. Patil documented his struggles to remain with his beloved big cats — which he bought from a Kyiv zoo two years ago — through his YouTube channel.

Two weeks ago, Patil had to leave his jaguar and black panther behind, as he was forced to cross over to Poland to earn a living and enough money to keep feeding his big cats, entrusted to a caretaker. He told the BBC, he’s now looking for help from his native country: “If the Indian government can help and pick them up and take them home to a zoo or a forest in India, it is fine. I just want to save them."

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Rules: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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