Every week we wrap up the must-reads from our coverage of the Ukraine war, from news and features to analysis, visual guides and opinion.
The death of four-year-old Liza Dmitrieva
The life and death of four-year-old Liza Dmitrieva, who was killed in a Russian missile strike on the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia on Thursday, has become a symbol of a conflict where death often comes without warning and from above, Peter Beaumont writes from Kyiv.
A series of video and still images posted on social media appear to track the last hours of Liza, who turned four in March in the midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Liza’s mother, Iryna – who captured her daughter at 9.38am pushing a pink and black pram – had taken her to an education centre in a city most believed was far from the frontlines, a four-hour drive west of the capital, Kyiv.
But Liza never made it home. Just after 11am, three missiles of seven reportedly fired from a Russian submarine in the Black Sea smashed into the square. Amid the carnage, footage captured Liza lying dead in her overturned pushchair. Nearby is a severed foot. The arm of a soldier reaches for the pushchair.
The strike also killed at least 22 others in the city of Vinnytsia, thought to be safe. Civilian buildings and a cultural centre in a busy street were hit mid-morning in a city that had escaped relatively untouched by the invasion.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the attack “an open act of terrorism”. “Every day Russia destroys civilian population, kills Ukrainian children and directs rockets at civilian targets where there is nothing military. What is this if not an open act of terrorism? It is a killer state. A terrorist state.”
Scores of grain ships stuck in the Black Sea
A traffic jam of more than 130 cargo ships loaded with Ukrainian grain is waiting in the Black Sea to pass into the Danube as negotiators from Moscow, Kyiv, the UN and Turkey hailed progress at talks in Istanbul on easing Ukrainian agricultural exports, Peter Beaumont reported on Wednesday.
The ships are waiting to access exit routes through the Sulina and Bystre estuary canals to reach a series of ports and terminals in Romania from where the grain can be transported on around the world, amid mounting global concern about the Russian blockade on Ukrainian exports through the Black Sea.
With mined ports and a Russian blockade on Ukraine’s south coast limiting maritime traffic, the northern branch of the Danube delta, which follows Ukraine’s southern border, and small riverine ports have taken on global importance amid warnings of famine in parts of Africa as Ukraine’s grain has been kept from the international market and prices have rocketed.
The crisis prompted Turkey to push for a deal with Ukraine, Russia and the UN aimed at resuming Ukrainian grain exports blocked by Russia, raising prospects for an end to a standoff that has exposed millions to the risk of starvation.
Turkey’s defence minister, Hulusi Akar, said on Wednesday that the deal would be signed when the parties meet again next week and would include joint controls for checking grains in ports and Turkey ensuring the safety of Black Sea export routes for Ukrainian grain.
Turkey would also set up a coordination centre with Ukraine, Russia and the UN for grain exports, Akar said. Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, wrote on Twitter: “Its task will be to carry out general monitoring and coordination of safe navigation in the Black Sea.”
Chasiv Yar reels from deadly strike
In the small town of Chasiv Yar, not far from Ukraine’s eastern frontlines, rescue workers searched through wreckage after a Russian missile hit a five-storey apartment building on Saturday evening, killing at least 48 and injuring dozens more.
Isobel Koshiw and Anastasia Vlasova visited the scene where rescuers managed to pull nine people out of the rubble. But by Tuesday they said they expected to recover only corpses.
The rocket assault, which destroyed three buildings in a residential quarter of town, was the latest in a recent burst of high-casualty attacks and one of the biggest losses of life in Ukrainian-controlled Donbas.
Yevhen, in his late 30s, described being in the entrance of his block of flats and throwing himself to the ground when he heard the strikes, together with some of his neighbours.
“I don’t understand why we are torturing each other,” he said.
Ukraine strikes Russian-held town with US-supplied missile
At least seven people were reportedly killed on Tuesday by a Ukrainian missile strike on a large ammunition store in the town of Nova Kakhovka, in Russia-occupied Kherson, in a strike attributed to recently acquired US weapons.
Kyiv said it had launched artillery barrages that destroyed a Russian arms depot, hitting artillery, armoured vehicles “and a warehouse with ammunition”.
Pro-Russia officials and some Ukrainian commentators were quick to suggest that the explosion was the result of a strike by Ukraine’s newly supplied US Himars missile system.
The deployment and effectiveness of the Himars system has been causing increasing consternation among pro-Russia figures and military bloggers in Russia, Peter Beaumont reported from Kyiv. International attention has focused of late on the recent Ukrainian successes using the system to target key Russian logistics and command and control networks.
Patience needed to turn tide against Russia
Ukraine says it is raising a “million-strong” army but it will need to carefully plan its counterattack and convince the west that with sustained help, its military has a realistic chance of kicking the Russians out, Dan Sabbagh writes from Kyiv.
A successful counteroffensive will require a strategic use of a combination of arms, an ability to concentrate force on the chosen battlefield of at least three-to-one or ideally more (Russia is thought to have managed seven-to-one in Donbas), and advanced western weapons.
A turning of the military tide, if it happens at all, will most likely take time.
Sea mines: the deadly danger lurking in Ukraine’s waters
On 11 June, a 50-year-old man entered the calm waters from a beach in the Ukrainian city of Odesa. Every weekend in the summer, he took a dip in the shallow sea and searched for sea snails, a local delicacy.
But on this occasion, he was not to return. A mine exploded, killing him instantly, as his family watched on in horror.
Lorenzo Tondo travelled to Odesa on the Black Sea, a once popular swimming spot and shipping route now infested with hundreds of mines dropped by both sides in Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa regional military administration, says between 400 and 600 mines were thrown into Ukraine’s sea zone by Russia. According to Moscow, the Russian military has mapped out about 370 Ukrainian sea mines.
Experts agree that it could take years to de-mine the Black Sea and any attempt to do so would be the most extensive since the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
July 16, 2022 at 05:21AM Guardian staff