Each week we have must-reads from our coverage of the Ukraine war, from news and features to analysis, visual guides and opinions.

Six Months of Hell in Ukraine: How Putin’s War Reached Deadlock

This week, Ukraine celebrated 31 years of independence from Soviet rule and six months of fighting against Moscow’s forces. The Russian president’s hopes of a quick victory have been dashed. Peace talks have stalled. Where do you want to go from here? asks Sean Walker.

In the early hours of February 24, the Russian offensive began, with missiles raining down on targets in Ukraine and ground forces pounding the country from three directions.

That fateful decision has irrevocably changed Ukraine, Russia, and the world in the intervening six months. Thousands of Ukrainians died and millions were displaced.

In a chaotic first day, events moved surprisingly quickly. By the end of the first week, the country had already settled into the new reality. Split-second decisions mean life or death.

Throughout the occupied territories surrounding Kiev, Russian soldiers committed murders and other war crimes, likely to fester psychological wounds for generations. In the southern city of Mariupol, stories of burials in shallow courtyard graves, shelters in damp, freezing cellars, sickness, abortions, starvation and deprivation are reminiscent of World War II.

However, amid all the horrors and traumas, an uplifting story emerges of a newly united country where former divisions have evaporated in the face of an existential threat to the east.

Fear gripped Ukraine’s Independence Day

Isobel Kosiv And Emma Graham-Harrison It was reported from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where fears of an escalation in Russian attacks overshadowed a grim independence day on Wednesday.

A display of destroyed Russian tanks and other military equipment on the main street replaced the usual military parade in the center of the city, both a celebration of Ukraine’s military success and a trolling of Moscow’s hopes of a quick victory.

A boy waves a national flag over a seized Russian tank in Kiev. Photo: Valentin Ogirenko/Reuters

“I’m constantly worried and praying for our skies to stay blue,” said Yana Pasichnyk, a singer in Ukraine’s national choir. “People I know, even my godson is fighting at the front. There is no celebration today. I can’t even believe this is happening.”

Many in the capital took stock of their successes and losses. Few outside Ukraine, even among its allies, expected the country to hold off Russia’s forces so effectively with a decisive victory outside Kiev.

Shortly before Zelensky appeared before the United Nations Security Council, news broke of a Russian attack on a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Chaplin. At least 25 people were killed and 50 injured.

Shelling caused the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant to disconnect from Ukraine’s grid

A fire caused by shelling cut the last power line at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant on Thursday, temporarily disconnecting it from Ukraine’s national grid for the first time in nearly 40 years of operation.

The plant was disconnected twice after fires in the ash pits of a nearby coal-fired power plant affected the fourth and final connection between the plant’s reactors. Isobel Kosiv Explained.

Disconnecting the plant from the grid is dangerous because it increases the risk of catastrophic failure of the cooling system that powers its reactors and spent fuel rods.

“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans one step away from radiation catastrophe,” Zelensky claimed late Thursday. “If the diesel generators hadn’t started … if our station staff hadn’t reacted after the blackout, we would have been forced to deal with the consequences of the radiation accident.”

Ukraine’s nuclear chief warns of Russian activity at Zaporizhia nuclear power plant
Ukraine’s nuclear chief warns of Russian activity at Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

Earlier in the week, the head of Ukraine’s nuclear power company shared a detailed plan drawn up by Russia to disconnect the plant. Emma Graham-Harrison.

Petro Kotin said that Russian engineers have already drawn up a blueprint for the switch to combat the severing of remaining power connections for emergency planning reasons. “A prerequisite for this plan is the massive loss of all lines connecting the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant to the Ukrainian system.”

The plant’s electricity connections were already in a fragile state, with three of the four main lines connecting to Ukraine’s grid broken during the war and two of the three back-up lines connected to conventional power plants, Kotin added.

Putin friend’s daughter killed in car bomb in Moscow

Andrew Roth Covered the moment the daughter of an ultranationalist Russian ideologue and friend of Vladimir Putin was killed in a car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow on Saturday night.

Darya Dugina, whose father is Russian political commentator Alexander Dugin, died when the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving exploded at around 9.30pm local time (1930 BST), according to investigators.

Prominent Russian hawks – without evidence – quickly tried to blame Kiev for the attack, which Ukraine’s intelligence services called an “assassination attempt”. Kiev has strongly denied the allegations.

Alexander Dugin speaks next to a projected image of Darya Dugin
Alexander Dugin next to the image of his daughter Darya Dugin. Photo: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Sean Walker Consider how each new claim on the attack raises more questions than it answers.

Russia’s FSB security service claims to have cracked the case, after a Ukrainian woman from the country’s Azov regiment entered Russia with her 12-year-old daughter before driving off in her Mini Cooper, detonating an improvised explosive device and eventually driving away. Country not found.

If the FSB’s version of events is true, it is a shocking agency failure and, if false, it is a strangely self-incriminating story.

Darya Dugina in a TV studio in Moscow before her death
Darya Dugina in a TV studio in Moscow before her death. Photo: Tsargrad.tv/Reuters

Other versions of the event also did not appear to be waterproof. Former Russian MP Ilya Ponomarev, now living in exile in Kiev, claimed that partisans from a hitherto unknown group called the National Republican Army were behind the attack. But Ponomarev provided no evidence, and many observers dismissed the claim as a publicity stunt.

Officials in Ukraine suggested the killings were likely a “false flag” operation orchestrated by the Russian state to frame Ukraine and provide justification for further violence.

Five predictions for the next six months in the Ukraine war

and sabbagh Provides information on what to expect for the next six months of the Russian invasion.

1. The war will probably last at least a year but is essentially a stalemate And its intensity is decreasing. Six months into the war, neither Ukraine nor Russia are ready to stop the war. There have been no recent negotiations and movement on the front has slowed since June. Both sides are jostling for momentum and appear increasingly battle-weary.

2. Ukraine has no means of effective conventional counterattack, while guerrilla raids are an optimistic way of Russian collapse. Ukraine wants to recapture southern Kherson but has so far failed to do so, shifting its strategy to mounting long-range missile strikes and daring special forces raids on Russian bases behind the frontlines.

3. Russia is likely to move to maintain its advantage and add territory to Ukraine. Russia has no new offensive plans but, holding large chunks of Ukrainian territory in the east and south, it is actively talking about holding an annexation referendum. With colder weather fast approaching, it’s likely the focus will be on consolidating what’s in it.

4. Winter will create a new refugee crisis And create opportunities for those who can prepare best. Ukraine lacks gas heating for many in frontline areas, and Russia will target its energy grid and shut down the sprawling Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, worrying what could be a new wave of migration abroad in winter. Spring, however, could be a time of renewed aggression, with each side looking to replenish and prepare for another fighting season.

5. The West must decide whether Ukraine wants to conquer or survive. Without Western military aid, Ukraine would have been defeated. But at no point so far has the West provided enough artillery or other weapons, such as fighter jets, to repel the Kyiv aggressors. At the same time, the West must adapt to the enormous and growing need for humanitarian aid.

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