Every week we wrap up the must-reads from our coverage of the war in Ukraine, from news and features to analysis, visual guides and opinion.
Zelenskiy faces difficult conversations in Washington
Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the UN security council this week that the way to bring peace to Ukraine and to prevent further wars of aggression is through fundamental UN reform, Julian Borger reported.
The Ukrainian president argued that the war had demonstrated the need to limit veto power, give the UN general assembly the power to override vetoes, and expand the council’s permanent members beyond the current five powers, who acquired their privileged position in the wake of the second world war.
He said the fact that Russia – the aggressor state in Ukraine – also has a veto to prevent the security council doing anything to stop the war, made a nonsense of the UN.
Zelenskiy followed up his speech at the UN with a visit to Washington, where he might have found a much tougher reception than the hero’s welcome he was given nine months ago, Julian reported separately.
He arrived on Capitol Hill in the midst of a bitter spending battle that could trigger a government shutdown, and faced difficult conversations when he met congressional leaders behind closed doors. Republicans have proposed a stopgap bill that does not include funding for Ukraine, an omission that the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, called “an insult to Ukraine and a gift to Putin”.
Nevertheless, Joe Biden assured Zelenskiy in their meeting on Thursday that strong US support for the war will be maintained despite opposition from some Republicans. That assurance was followed up by the announcement of $325m of new assistance, including air defense missiles, ammunition for Himars precision rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons, and artillery rounds
How Russia deliberately targeted Kherson’s hospitals
Russia has “deliberately and repeatedly” targeted medical facilities in the Ukrainian city of Kherson, causing damage to children’s hospitals, maternity wards and a regional clinic, according to a new study reported by Luke Harding.
Russian troops swept into Kherson last year in the early days of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion. In November, Ukraine’s armed forces evicted them from the southern city as part of a sweeping counteroffensive.
Since December 2022, the Russian army has been bombarding Kherson from dug-in positions on the nearby left, eastern bank of the Dnipro river. It has attacked civilian infrastructure, including schools, private residential houses, hospitals and the railway station.
Poland will no longer send weapons to Ukraine, says PM as grain dispute escalates
Poland prime minister announced on Wednesday that the country would no longer send arms to Ukraine in order to focus on its own defence, only a few hours after Warsaw summoned Kyiv’s ambassador amid a row over grain exports, Shaun Walker and Sam Jones reported.
Poland has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters and is one of Kyiv’s main weapons suppliers. It also hosts a million Ukrainian refugees, who have been supplied with various forms of state aid. But tensions between Warsaw and Kyiv were sparked by Poland’s ban on Ukrainian grain imports to protect the interests of its farmers, and have intensified in recent days.
In his analysis of the row however, Shaun Walker said the issue may have more to do with internal politics in Poland than with real problems between the two capitals.
Polls suggest parliamentary elections on 15 October will be an extremely close-run race, and the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is looking for boosts to its support wherever possible. The nationalist PiS is facing a challenge from the far-right Konfederecja party, which advocates for less help to Ukraine and focusing on Poland’s internal issues.
Ukrainian market tragedy may have been caused by errant missile fired by Ukraine
A missile strike that hit a crowded market in the Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka killing at least 17 civilians earlier this month could have been caused by an errant missile fired by Ukraine, the New York Times has reported.
A further 32 people were wounded on 6 September by the impact of the missile 12 miles (20km) from the frontlines in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, in one of the highest civilian death tolls from a single incident in recent months.
Video of the aftermath showed fires raging in destroyed buildings and soldiers carrying body bags away from the scene. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a few hours later accused Russia of being responsible for the attack.
However, evidence collected and analysed by the New York Times suggests the strike was “the result of an Ukrainian air defence missile fired by a Buk launch system” that failed to hit its intended target and landed in the bustling heart of Kostiantynivka instead. Lorenzo Tondo in Kyiv followed this story.
Children arrive in Belarus after being illegally removed from Ukraine
Ukrainian children who had been illegally deported to Russia arrived in Belarus, where state media published photographs showing them waving Belarusian flags and flanked by riot police.
The 48 children come from the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, which Moscow claims it has annexed.
In photos published on Tuesday, the children were shown holding the red and green state flag of Belarus, surrounded by police and riot police. According to the state news agency Belta, the children “thanked” the Belarusian authorities. Lorenzo Tondo reported this story.
‘Ukrainians understand corruption can kill’: Kyiv takes on an old enemy
As the Ukrainian army’s counteroffensive continues against Russian forces in the east of the country, another battle is raging on the home front in Kyiv – against corruption, Shaun Walker reported.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy recently sacked Oleksii Reznikov as defence minister. There are also numerous court cases against various defence ministry officials. Separately, one of Ukraine’s most notorious oligarchs, Ihor Kolomoisky, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering, and is in pre-trial detention.
As the full-scale war passes the 18-month mark, stories of a return to familiar corrupt schemes and the old way of doing business pop up ever more frequently in Ukrainian media outlets. The government is now trying to show the population – and the country’s foreign donors – that corruption in wartime will not be tolerated.
Ukraine’s awkward allies: the far-right Russians fighting on Kyiv’s side
Before Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Denis Nikitin was known as a notorious Russian nationalist, who had built links between far-right groups across Europe and was once a major figure on Russia’s football hooliganism scene.
These days, Nikitin runs the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK, to use its Russian abbreviation), a controversial unit of Russian citizens that fights alongside the Ukrainian army, Shaun Walker reported from Kyiv.
RDK, along with another group of Russians fighting on Kyiv’s side, performed several cross-border raids earlier this year, briefly seizing villages inside Russia before retreating back into Ukraine.
But as Shaun writes, RDK are complicated allies for Ukraine. Many of its members have far-right views and Nikitin, who grew up in Russia and Germany, has been banned from the Schengen zone since 2019 and has a reputation as one of Europe’s most notorious neo-Nazis.
35,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews travel to Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah
Unfazed by the bombs, undeterred by the warnings, and in the face of the raging conflict, more than 35,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews from across the world journeyed to Uman, Ukraine, to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
“Going to celebrate in a war zone en masse is crazy,” Azoulay Ruben, a 22-year-old trainee dentist from Paris, told Lorenzo Tondo. “But at the same time, it’s a beautiful thing.”
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day holiday that falls in September or October, marking the beginning of the high holy days. In Israel, it is usually celebrated with family visits and food: traditionally, apples dipped in honey are eaten to symbolise hopes for a “sweet” year ahead.
For followers of the rabbi Nachman of Breslov, however, Rosh Hashanah is a chance to party. Nachman, a great-grandson of the founder of what is today broadly known as Hassidic Judaism, a branch of ultra-Orthodoxy, spent the final months of his life in the Ukrainian city of Uman, 125 miles (200km) south of Kyiv, and died in 1810.