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.
100 days of a war that is reshaping Europe
Michael Safi and Courtney Yusuf traced the war, from the final hours of the decades-long peace enjoyed by Europe’s great powers.
On February 23, Volodomyr Ksienich, a 22-year-old student organizer, spent the night with friends. They talked about the war, of course. “No one really believed this would happen,” he says.
Many analysts agreed. Russian forces massed on the border were too few to occupy the country, they argued. State media had done little to prepare the Russian public for war. An invasion would trigger economic sanctions so ruinous for the Russian economy that no leader would dare to risk it.
It was all true, and they were wrong.
Sean Clarke, Pablo Gutierrez and Monika Cvorak followed the bloody war of attrition that has since devastated Ukraine, killing thousands and displacing millions.
Their graphic guide describes the crisis in four phases: the initial invasion of Russia, the impeded advance into Kyiv, the retreat and reorientation of its forces, and the ongoing assault in eastern Ukraine.
The progress of Russian control is recorded and overlaid on a map of Ukraine as the conflict progresses, as compiled by the Institute for the Study of Warfare and the Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute.
The fight for Sievierodonetsk
Russian forces appear to be taking control of the strategically important city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine as more Western allies promise Kyiv additional missile systems and weapons.
Jon Henley reported that 80% of the city is now in Russian hands. Capturing Sievierodonetsk would give Russian President Vladimir Putin control of all of Luhansk – the region which, together with Donetsk, forms the Ukrainian industrial heartland of Donbass – cementing a change in momentum on the battlefield after his forces were pushed back from Kyiv and northern Ukraine.
In eerily similar scenes in Mariupol and its Azovstal steelworks, around 800 people, including children, reportedly hid under a chemical plant in the city amid the fighting.
Pierre-Beaumont and the Guardian’s defense and security editor, Dan Sabbagh, reported on the high levels of attrition on the Ukrainian side, whose defenders were pounded by Russian bombardment. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told US TV channel Newsmax: “The situation is very difficult – we are losing 60-100 soldiers per day killed in action and around 500 wounded in action.”
Gone for now are Russian attempts to encircle Ukrainian forces more broadly in the Donbass, which included a failed river crossing in early May. Instead, units focus on smaller encirclements – or “cauldrons” – and pure concentration in Sievierodonetsk.
The expected loss of Sievierdonetsk, however, “is unlikely to be the crux” of Russia’s Donbass campaign, a Western official said this week, adding that the war that could now last “until the end of the year given the slowness of Moscow’s advance.
The struggle to find and bury the dead of Mariupol
Isobel Koshib reports tens of thousands of people trying to identify their relatives in Mariupol after the beleaguered port city finally surrendered to Russian forces last month.
Petro Andryushchenko, adviser to the city’s mayor, estimated that 22,000 people died in the two months of fighting. However, one person among several coordinated burials in the city, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he believed the total was closer to 50,000.
With rising temperatures as summer approaches, the smell of corpses wafts through some streets. There are bodies still trapped under rubble or in apartments or buried in shallow makeshift graves or mass graves – a number of which appear to have been poorly marked or even unmarked. Others were left on the street and rotted away, and some may have disintegrated if struck directly or burned in a fire.
Families navigate a chaotic burial process, spending days combing through social media groups and spreadsheets of those believed to have died, searching for news.
Biden responds to demand for heavy weapons
Pierre-Beaumont reported that Joe Biden confirms he will send more advanced rocket systems to Kyiv, a critical weapon that Ukrainian leaders have been calling for as they struggle to block Russian progress in the Donbass region.
As Luke Harding reported from Mykolaiv, such a deployment from the west has the potential to change the outcome of the war. Roman Kostenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament and commander of the special forces, told the Guardian: “If our partners give us heavy artillery and advanced systems like the MRLS [multiple-launch rocket systems]we can win and retake the occupied territory.
However, the global affairs editor Julien Borger noted that the deal was only for four systems and came with strings attached and was still weeks away from being operational. He wrote: “Biden has made it clear that he will not allow a catastrophic failure of Ukraine’s defenses, but it is equally clear that he is concerned about the implications of a catastrophic success, a rout of Russian forces with the decisive aid from Western weapons, bringing with it the danger of a defeated Putin running amok.
Russia-linked superyachts go dark to avoid threat of sanctions
In the sparkling azure waters of Antigua, the sparkling £95million superyacht Alfa Nero could recently be seen at anchor by tourists enjoying the Caribbean coast. But few tourists who spotted its sleek black shell would have appreciated that it was one hell of a find, reports Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Practical Gemma.
Ships linked to sanctions-hit Russian oligarchs no longer report their position to an automatic global locator, and the Alfa Nero – linked to Russian billionaire Andrey Guryev – is one of them.
At least six superyachts linked to UK-sanctioned oligarchs have ‘blacked out’ on ocean tracking systems as global hunt for Russian super-rich assets intensifies, Observer investigation finds revealed.
A crew member of a superyacht linked to a UK-sanctioned Russian oligarch says: ‘We were told to turn off the AIS [automatic identification system]. We removed the screws from the power jack and removed it. »