‘My language is now my weapon’: Ukrainians find new purposes in life amid war
A year ago, bedtime for Ukrainian teenager Kira Meshcherska meant simply donning her pyjamas and hopping into bed, her biggest concern being whether she would wake in time for classes the next day.
Today, Kira, now 13, no longer takes it for granted that she will wake in the morning. Bedtime this winter, for the teenager who lives in Kyiv, has become a nightly routine of putting on extra warm clothes and mentally revising the shortest route to safety should missiles strike while she is sleeping.
“If a missile hits the house, you need to be warmly dressed to survive in the cold while waiting for rescuers to dig you out of the rubble,” said Kira, adding that her family now often bunks down on the corridor where there are no windows and is hence safer.
These were lessons learnt from hard experiences, Kira said, describing a missile attack on New Year’s Eve that struck the neighbouring street, killing, among others, a mother who had been pouring water for her young son when she was hit by shrapnel that came through their kitchen window.
Grave choices for Nato as Ukraine war grinds on
When, in February last year, Russian tanks first rolled over the borders of Ukraine, two assumptions were shared by all the actors in this drama: that the war would be short and that it would conclude with a Russian victory.
A year on from that fateful move, both Russia and the West are locked in a long-term attrition war which has already cost the lives of around a quarter of a million people, one from which neither side is likely to emerge with a resounding triumph.
The Ukraine war remains a sorry tale of unintended consequences, a stark reminder of how perfectly sane and outwardly rational leaders can end up prisoners of their own narratives, stumbling into the most insane situations.
A dose of realism for defiant Russia
Defiance appears to mark Russian state media commentary on the Ukraine war, a year into what was supposed to be an easy victory but which has turned into protracted conflict.
The spirit of the moment is captured in an article by columnist Lyuba Lulko of Pravda, the Russian Federation Communist Party’s newspaper. She places the war in the context of historical animosity between the West and Russia. “The West planned the destruction of the federation of the Russian peoples after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” she wrote on Jan 31.
Dismissing the idea of Russian aggression against Ukraine, she added: “There is a war between the US and Nato (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) against Russia, which is still a proxy war on the territory of Ukraine... On Feb 24 last year, (Russian President) Vladimir Putin responded to that aggression. The battle is in full swing.”
China to continue deepening ‘no limits’ relationship with Russia
Most of the Western world has shunned Russia, which has become an international pariah one year into its invasion of Ukraine.
But Beijing has gone in the opposite direction and deepened its ties with Moscow, much to the alarm of its neighbours, who increasingly see the two countries in alignment.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a call just before the New Year with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, lauded “record high” levels of trade and other cooperation, and will reportedly visit Russia this spring.