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TOPIC: donbas

In The News

First Snow In Ukraine Falls On Second Day Of Mass Air Strikes On Power Grid

Is this what Vladimir Putin's winter plans look like?

For the second straight day, Russia has launched a massive nationwide air attack against the infrastructure targets of major Ukrainian cities. Reports of explosions, buildings on fire and energy cuts were reported in Kyiv, Donbas, Dnipro and other cities around Ukraine.

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Russians fired at least 16 cruise missiles and launched five drones in the overnight hours and early morning, with Ukrainian defense forces managing to shoot down four cruise missiles and five Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones over Kyiv.

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After Kherson, How Russia's Army Could “Fold Like A House Of Cards”

Kyiv has no intentions of letting Russian troops regroup with any "operational pause." Events will begin to move quickly in Donbas, and may be heading for Crimea sooner rather than later.

Following last week’s recapture of Kherson, the Ukrainian army does not intend to allow Russia any “operational pause” to regroup and regain strength.

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The U.S. Institute for the Study of War predicts that Russia will likely launch a new offensive in the Donetsk region. Ukraine is then expected to use the forces freed up after pushing the Russian army out of the western Kherson region to reinforce the current offensive in the Luhansk region.

In an interview after the liberation Friday of Kherson, Mykhailo Podolyak, top advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said that the situation at the front will develop very quickly from now on.

"The heaviest battles will be in the direction of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya. Especially in the Donetsk direction, where combat-capable Russian military units exist,” he said.

Podolyak added that the push will happen independently of weather conditions. “No one will give Mr. Putin, Mr. Surovikin, or Mr. Shoigu any opportunity to get an operational pause", he said, referring to Russia’s President, the general in charge of the war in Ukraine, and Russia’s defense minister.

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Brazil Runoff, More Ukraine Gains, Iran Protests Go Global

👋 Bok!*

Welcome to Monday, where Brazil’s presidential elections go to a runoff, Indonesia launches a probe into a tragic stampede that left at least 125 dead in a soccer stadium, and the Nobel prize season starts with the medicine award. Meanwhile, Die Welt’s Stefan Schocher reports from a village just a few kilometers from what is now the Ukraine-Russia “border” in Putin's eyes.

[*Croatian]

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Russia Announces Annexation, Aung San Suu Kyi Jailed, MIA Liz Truss

👋 Ia Orana!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Russia announces it will formally annex four Ukraine regions, Myanmar’s former leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is sentenced to three years in jail, and the inventor of the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker gets rewarded. Meanwhile, Persian-language Kayhan-London looks at the Iranian regime's tools in crushing opposition, in the light of recent mass unrest in the country.

[*yo-rah-nah - Tahitian]

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Paweł Smoleński

Searching For Marianna, A Pregnant Doctor From Mariupol Held Captive By The Russians

We’ve heard about the plight of the soldiers-turned-prisoners from Mariupol. Here are some traces of the disturbing fate of a young female doctor who’s been taken away.

"Wait for me, because I will return…"

Marianna Mamonova wrote these words to her family, among the text messages and short phone calls that are the only remaining fragments used to piece together her recent past. We also have a photo of her, posted on Russian websites, where she looks into the lens, gaunt and exhausted, signed with a number like a concentration camp prisoner.

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Until the Russian-Ukrainian war, Mamonova’s biography was available to anyone who wanted to know. She was born in 1991, studied at the Ternopil Medical University, and later at the Kyiv Military Academy. After completing her studies, she was sent to work in the coastal city of Berdiansk. Her mother says that this is where her daughter's dream came true: She’d always wanted to be a military doctor, and worked in Berdiansk for three years, receiving the rank of officer in the Ukrainian army.

Beginning in 2014, she’d worked stints as a front-line doctor in the Donbas region, and when Russia invaded Ukraine in February she went to war again. This time in Mariupol.

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In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Cameron Manley, and Emma Albright

Lavrov Says Russia’s Military Ambitions Now Go Beyond Donbas

Russia’s territorial goals in Ukraine are no longer limited to the eastern Donbas region, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Instead the Kremlin’s objectives in Ukraine are likely to extend into the country’s south toward the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, and “a number of other territories,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian state media RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

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In a direct threat, Lavrov said Moscow was more likely to expand the war if the West continues to supply Ukraine with more long-range weaponry.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Sonia Koshkina

Serhiy Haidai: Ukraine's Man In Donbas Is Forced To Explain Russian Gains

Ukrainian newspaper Livy Bereg asked Volodymyr Zelensky's chief adviser on the Donbas, Serhiy Haidai, why he did not hold Ukraine's position in the Luhansk region.

Volodymyr Zelensky's chief adviser on the Donbas, the head of the Luhansk Military Administration, is a 46-year-old businessman and politician named Serhiy Haidai, with a salt-and-pepper beard and stern disposition. He is despised by Russians, yet also increasingly criticized by Ukrainians.

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Ukraine's military has been losing ground in the Luhansk oblast since the beginning of the war, suffering heavy losses among its personnel and civilians, and has been forced to abandon two major cities, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Russia continues to commit virtually all of its forces into the Donbas, taking much of Luhansk not by direct combat or occupation, but by simply burning territory to the ground with artillery, with Russian tanks then rolling in to "liberate" the dead cities.

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In The News
Bertrand Hauger, Anna Akage, Lisa Berdet and Emma Albright

A Cruel Summer For Ukrainian Kids

And see the contrast with kids in Russia...

With the summer break around the corner and heat taking over most of Europe, Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza is running, as part of its “photo of the day” section, a picture of children splashing about with their parents in a river. A refreshing photo, in stark contrast with the caption chosen by the Warsaw-based newspaper: “These children don’t have to be afraid of bombs.” The river in question is the Moskva, and these are Russian kids cooling off near the Kremlin.

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The same Gazeta Wyborcza has also reported on a Poland-based hotline, open to Ukrainian children (an estimated 500,000 of whom have found refuge in Poland) to be able to talk to a psychologist about their traumatic experiences — or simply looking for a chat in their native tongue.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Flashback In The USSR? How Former Soviet Republics Are Reacting To War in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has been upfront about his desire to rebuild Russia’s influence in the region. Former Soviet states are watching developments in Ukraine closely, with many trying to ensure futures free of interference by Moscow.

For 69 years, the Kremlin was able to keep what were de facto separate nations within the Soviet orbit by the use of weapons, hunger and fear. Even after the collapse of the USSR, every Russian leader considered the former republics to be at least a zone of his influence.

Yet Vladimir Putin has revealed his true understanding of neighborliness, repeatedly stating that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a huge tragedy for Russia. And on this, one might agree, he is right.

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Under the Communist Party, each of the national republics also had their own government, albeit ultimately controlled by the Kremlin. Each of the republics, whether in Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, or Ukraine, had their own capital, culture, language and traditions. For each of the national republics, secession from the Soviet Union brought liberation and independence — an opportunity to build their own state. For every former member state, that is, except Russia.

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In The News
Meike Eijsberg, Cameron Manley, Lisa Berdet and Emma Albright

Zelensky Says Battle For Severodonetsk May Decide Fate Of Donbas

It was another fierce night of combat in the eastern Ukrainian city, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the fate of the battle could be decisive.

In Severodonetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city, the battle raging is looking increasingly decisive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last night that the city remains the epicenter of hostilities in the region. “It’s a very fierce battle. Perhaps, one of the most difficult ones of this war,” he said. “In many respects, the fate of the Donbas is being decided there.”

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According to local officials, Russia now controls most of this key city. “The night was difficult,” said Oleksandr Striuk, head of Severodonetsk’s city military administration, on national television Thursday morning. But, “our armed forces control part of the city – the industrial zone, and the surrounding neighborhoods.”

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Joel Silvestri and Anne-Sophie Goninet

The Battle For Severodonetsk, Iran Raises Nuclear Eyebrows, Paula Rego Dies

👋 Aniin!*

Welcome to Thursday, where heavy fighting and shelling rock eastern Ukraine, Germany calls out Iran for its nuclear ambitions, and the art world mourns the passing of “visceral” painter Paula Rego. Meanwhile, our This Happened video format explores one of the most iconic photographs of the Vietnam War, which just turned 50.

[*Ojibwe - Canada]

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Geopolitics
Artur Weigandt

The Russian Soldier Turned Social Media Star — Revealing More Than Putin Might Like

Anatoly Dremov shares his experiences of the war in Ukraine on the Russian Telegram network – and reveals details that don't always line up with the Kremlin narrative.

“That damn Ukrainian 'dill' shot up our tank,” a young soldier says into his cell phone camera. Dill is Russian slang for “Ukrainian Nazis.” The soldier squats in a car. The camera pans to the street. Destroyed apartment buildings roll by, destroyed tanks and civilian vehicles too.

Then a change of scene: several soldiers, all wearing the Russian Z on their sleeves. “It doesn’t matter at all who we meet on the way to victory: young Ukrainians, old Ukrainians. They’ll all get it.”

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What sounds like a cheap Russian action movie is reality. The reality of soldier Anatoly Dremov, sometimes Artyom Dremov, also known by the pseudonym Snami Bog – “God with us.” Dremov is 25 years old and from St. Petersburg. Sometimes he claims to be the owner of a restaurant. Sometimes it’s a tobacco store. Maybe both are true. Maybe both are not true.

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