Each week, we round up the must-read for our coverage of the war in Ukraine, from news and features to analysis, visual guides and opinion.
Russian soldiers accuse their superiors of imprisoning them for refusing to fight
This week Pjotr Sauer reported on a rare display of tensions within the ranks of the Russian military after Russian soldiers accused their commanders of imprisoning them in eastern Ukraine for refusing to take part in the war.
Maxim Grebenyuk, a lawyer who represents soldiers and heads the Moscow-based rights organization Military Ombudsman, said at least four Russian soldiers had filed written complaints with the investigative committee, demanding sanctions for superiors who supervised their detention. Grebenyuk said he had a list of 70 soldiers out of the 140 held as prisoners.
In written testimony sent to Russian prosecutors and reviewed by the Guardian, one soldier described how, after refusing to return to the battlefield, he was imprisoned alongside other soldiers who had refused to fight. He spent more than a week in different cells in the Russian-controlled Luhansk territory.
The soldier said, “Due to what I believe to be tactical and strategic errors made by my commanders…and their complete disregard for human life…I have made the decision not to proceed with the military operation.
Ukraine Offensive Forces Russia to Reinforce Troops in Occupied South
Russia has moved large numbers of troops to southern Ukraine for battles against the country’s forces across the newly occupied territories and Crimea, writes Isobel Koshib in Kyiv.
“If Russia won, it would try to conquer more territory,” said Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence. “They are increasing their numbers, preparing for our counter-offensive [in Ukraine’s south] and perhaps preparing to launch their own offensive. The south is essential for them, especially because of the Crimea.
The Russian troop movements come in response to Ukraine’s declared counter-offensive to liberate the occupied southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Grain ship leaves Ukrainian port for first time since blockade
A ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the port of Odessa on Monday for the first time since the start of the Russian invasion, Isobel Koshib reports to Kyiv.
The Razoni ship, flying the flag of Sierra Leone, carrying 26,000 tonnes of maize, is bound for Lebanon. This follows weeks of talks between Ukraine and Russia, led by Turkey and the United Nations, to broker a deal to unlock Ukraine’s agricultural exports and ease the growing global food crisis.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said 16 loaded ships had been stuck in Ukrainian ports since the start of the Russian invasion and officials expected the ports to return to full shipping capacity in the coming weeks.
Muscovites put the war aside and enjoy the summer
As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its fifth month, Moscow is a city doing all it can to turn a blind eye to the conflict.
“Yes, we are having a party,” said Anna Mitrokhina Andre Roth in Moscow at an open-air dance party on the Moscow River. “We are out of politics, we want to dance, feel and have fun. I can’t worry anymore and it helps me to forget.
In a forthcoming article, Russian political analyst Andrei Kolesnikov and Levada Center pollster Denis Volkov write that many Russians have found it easier to join the “mainstream” of support or indifference to the war.
An anti-war Instagram lifestyle blogger said she consciously decided to stop speaking about the subject – due to official restrictions but also the backlash she received from followers. “What hurts the most is that it’s not really [because of the law], there’s just no desire to talk about it,” she said. “People are turning off.”
After a wave of repressions, there are fewer and fewer voices speaking out publicly against the war. But some remain, like Alexey Venediktov, the former head of a Russian radio station that was shut down after his public opposition to the war. At a table near the window of the Pouchkine café in Moscow, Venediktov loudly denounced the conflict as “catastrophic” under the worried gaze of the waiters.
Russia says US is ‘directly involved’ in war in Ukraine
The role of US intelligence services in the war in Ukraine has come under scrutiny after Russia accused the White House of providing targeting information used by Kyiv to carry out long-range missile strikes, Luke Harding wrote in Lviv.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Washington was “directly involved” in the war and passed on intelligence that led to “mass civilian deaths”.
The Kremlin’s comments came after Ukraine’s acting deputy military intelligence chief Vadym Skibitsky said in an interview with The Telegraph that US-made Himars long-range artillery systems had been extremely effective in eliminating Russian fuel and ammunition dumps. Skibitsky denied that US officials were providing direct targeting information, but acknowledged that there had been consultations between US and Ukrainian intelligence officials before the strikes.
The Biden administration has provided Ukraine with arms and financial security aid, but strongly denies that it is taking part in the conflict or is at war with Russia.
UN to investigate attack that killed dozens of Ukrainian POWs
In response to requests from Russia and Ukraine, the UN is setting up a fact-finding mission to investigate the killing of dozens of prisoners of war at a prison in the Russian-occupied region of Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine. Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of carrying out the attack.
Thursday, Luke Harding reported in Kyiv that senior Ukrainian officials claimed the attack was a special operation planned by the Kremlin and carried out by Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group who worked closely with Vladimir Putin’s FSB spy agency.
However, Russia claimed that the Ukrainian military used US-supplied rocket launchers to hit the prison.