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Walls, Dreams and Genocide: Zelensky Invokes History to Rally Support

Mar 21, 2022

March 21, 2022, 4:09 p.m. ET Ukraine Live Updates: Russia Strikes Kyiv Mall; Mariupol Refuses to Yield Russian forces had given a predawn deadline for the surrender of the port city. A Russian missile strike reduced a sprawling shopping mall in Kyiv to a smoldering ruin. And the Ukrainian foreign ministry accused Russia of forcibly deporting thousands of children. Image Firemen and emergency workers at the scene of the Retroville Mall on Monday after what appeared to be the most powerful explosion yet in the city of Kyiv, Ukraine.Credit...Lynsey Addario for The New York Times KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine rejected Russia’s demand that soldiers defending the embattled southern port of Mariupol surrender at dawn on Monday, even as a powerful blast rocked the capital, Kyiv, and reduced a sprawling shopping mall to rubble . After nearly a month of fighting, the war has reached a stalemate, with Russia turning to deadlier and blunter methods, including targeting civilians. A New York Times reporter saw six dead bodies at the mall in Kyiv covered in plastic as rescue workers battled fires and pulled more victims from the wreckage Monday morning. President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the nation overnight, said that a relief convoy in northeastern Ukraine near the city of Kharkiv had been hijacked by Russian forces . And efforts to reach hundreds of thousands of people trapped in Mariupol remained fraught with danger. “The enemy desperately does not want civilians to break through,” Olena Zelenska, the president’s wife, said in a statement. “But they will. Please hold on, dear people, I beg you. I will repeat my husband’s words, ‘Ukraine doesn’t abandon her people.’” Across eastern Ukraine, there were signs that Russia was seeking to consolidate control, including a drive to conscript men to fight in their war effort. At the same time, Ukrainian officials and witnesses said they were forcibly deporting people, including children. Oleg Nikolenko, the spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, said in a statement that 2,389 children were taken from their parents in the Donbas region and sent to Russia on a single day, Saturday. The claim could not be independently confirmed. In other major developments: President Biden is making his biggest diplomatic push of the war . In a call with Western allies on Monday, he assailed Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian civilians and discussed providing assistance to refugees. He will travel to Brussels on Wednesday to meet with NATO and European leaders, then head to Poland on Friday. The deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Andrei Paliy, died in combat in Mariupol, according to the governor of Sevastopol, the Crimean city where the fleet is based. Paliy is one of several high-ranking Russian officers who have been killed in action in Ukraine. President Zelensky called for renewed peace talks with Russia , despite few signs of progress after four days of negotiations last week. Show more Video Russian forces occupying the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson are responding to protests there with increasingly aggressive tactics, according to videos and photographs verified by The Times. Kherson was the first major city to fall in the war. Russian forces seized control on March 2. In the weeks since, residents have gathered at the city’s Freedom Square to protest the Russian occupation. While Russian troops previously had fired into the air to disperse crowds in the region, Monday saw an escalation in the violent response — including sustained use of gunfire for nearly a minute, shooting directly at the crowd, and the use of flash-bang type grenades. In videos and images verified by The Times, soldiers are seen carrying Russian assault rifles, with at least one firing into the air and another directly at protesters. A photo shows spent cartridge casings from those rifles on the ground. At least one man appeared to be seriously injured, bleeding from the leg as he was carried away from the square. Footage also appears to show Russian soldiers apprehending at least one person. In one video, a bystander is overheard saying that two activists were detained. Marta Pogorila, an activist from Kherson currently in Romania, told The Times that protesters on Monday were angered after Russian soldiers defaced a local monument. The monument was erected to honor the “heavenly one hundred,” a reference to those killed in the 2013-14 Maidan uprising. Photos of the monument on Monday show the phrase “ZSU are murderers of Donbas children” — referencing Ukraine’s military and a region of the country that is home to Russian-backed separatists — scrawled on the side of the monument. Video and photos show people later cleaning the graffiti from the monument. During demonstrations in Kherson on Sunday, Russian military vehicles were filmed retreating after being surrounded by protesters. Show more March 21, 2022, 3:31 p.m. ET March 21, 2022, 3:31 p.m. ET Zolan Kanno-Youngs Reporting from Washington The Biden administration is in discussions with the United Nations on ways to expedite the processing of Ukrainian refugees who cannot remain in Europe and “for whom resettlement in the United States would be a better option,” according to Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary. March 21, 2022, 3:22 p.m. ET March 21, 2022, 3:22 p.m. ET Zolan Kanno-Youngs Reporting from Washington During a phone call with Western allies, President Biden discussed “serious concerns about Russia’s brutal tactics in Ukraine, including its attacks on civilians,” according to a White House statement. In the call with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, Mr. Biden also discussed providing security and humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians. March 21, 2022, 2:53 p.m. ET March 21, 2022, 2:53 p.m. ET Image A photo released by a Russian state-owned news agency showing an Iskander-M launch vehicle being loaded with a ballistic missile during military exercises at a Russian firing range in Ussuriysk in 2016. Credit...Yuri Smityuk/TASS, via Getty Images In destructive power, the behemoths of the Cold War dwarfed the American atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Washington’s biggest test blast was 1,000 times as large. Moscow’s was 3,000 times . On both sides, the idea was to deter strikes with threats of vast retaliation — with mutual assured destruction, or MAD. The psychological bar was so high that nuclear strikes came to be seen as unthinkable. Today, both Russia and the United States have nuclear arms that are much less destructive — their power just fractions of the Hiroshima bomb’s force, their use perhaps less frightening and more thinkable . Concern about these smaller arms has soared as Vladimir V. Putin , in the Ukraine war, has warned of his nuclear might, has put his atomic forces on alert and has had his military carry out risky attacks on nuclear power plants. The fear is that if Mr. Putin feels cornered in the conflict, he might choose to detonate one of his lesser nuclear arms — breaking the taboo set 76 years ago after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Analysts note that Russian troops have long practiced the transition from conventional to nuclear war, especially as a way to gain the upper hand after battlefield losses. And the military, they add, wielding the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, has explored a variety of escalatory options that Mr. Putin might choose from. “The chances are low but rising,” said Ulrich Kühn , a nuclear expert at the University of Hamburg and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The war is not going well for the Russians,” he observed, “and the pressure from the West is increasing.” Mr. Putin might fire a weapon at an uninhabited area instead of at troops, Dr. Kühn said. In a 2018 study , he laid out a crisis scenario in which Moscow detonated a bomb over a remote part of the North Sea as a way to signal deadlier strikes to come. “It feels horrible to talk about these things,” Dr. Kühn said in an interview. “But we have to consider that this is becoming a possibility.” Washington expects more atomic moves from Mr. Putin in the days ahead. Moscow is likely to “increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength” as the war and its consequences weaken Russia, Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier , director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday. President Biden is traveling to a NATO summit in Brussels this week to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The agenda is expected to include how the alliance will respond if Russia employs chemical, biological, cyber or nuclear weapons. James R. Clapper Jr. , a retired Air Force general who served as President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, said Moscow had lowered its bar for atomic use after the Cold War when the Russian army fell into disarray. Today, he added, Russia regards nuclear arms as utilitarian rather than unthinkable. “They didn’t care,” Mr. Clapper said of Russian troops’ risking a radiation release earlier this month when they attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor site — the largest not only in Ukraine but in Europe. “They went ahead and fired on it. That’s indicative of the Russian laissez-faire attitude. They don’t make the distinctions that we do on nuclear weapons.” Mr. Putin announced last month that he was putting Russian nuclear forces into “special combat readiness.” Pavel Podvig , a longtime researcher of Russia’s nuclear forces, said the alert had most likely primed the Russian command and control system for the possibility of receiving a nuclear order. It’s unclear how Russia exerts control over its arsenal of less destructive arms. But some U.S. politicians and experts have denounced the smaller weapons on both sides as threatening to upend the global balance of nuclear terror. Image A Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launcher in a military parade in Moscow last year.Credit...Yuri Kochetkov/EPA, via Shutterstock For Russia, military analysts note, edgy displays of the less destructive arms have let Mr. Putin polish his reputation for deadly brinkmanship and expand the zone of intimidation he needs to fight a bloody conventional war. “Putin is using nuclear deterrence to have his way in Ukraine,” said Nina Tannenwald , a political scientist at Brown University who recently profiled the less powerful armaments. “His nuclear weapons keep the West from intervening.” A global race for the smaller arms is intensifying . Though such weapons are less destructive by Cold War standards, modern estimates show that the equivalent of half a Hiroshima bomb, if detonated in Midtown Manhattan, would kill or injure half a million people. The case against these arms is that they undermine the nuclear taboo and make crisis situations even more dangerous. Their less destructive nature, critics say, can feed the illusion of atomic control when in fact their use can suddenly flare into a full-blown nuclear war. A simulation devised by experts at Princeton University starts with Moscow firing a nuclear warning shot; NATO responds with a small strike, and the ensuing war yields more than 90 million casualties in its first few hours. No arms control treaties regulate the lesser warheads, known sometimes as tactical or nonstrategic nuclear weapons, so the nuclear superpowers make and deploy as many as they want. Russia has perhaps 2,000 , according to Hans M. Kristensen , director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington. And the United States has roughly 100 in Europe, a number limited by domestic policy disputes and the political complexities of basing them among NATO allies, whose populations often resist and protest the weapons’ presence. Russia’s atomic war doctrine came to be known as “escalate to de-escalate” — meaning routed troops would fire a nuclear weapon to stun an aggressor into retreat or submission. Moscow repeatedly practiced the tactic in field exercises. In 1999, for instance, a large drill simulated a NATO attack on Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. The exercise had Russian forces in disarray until Moscow fired nuclear arms at Poland and the United States . Dr. Kühn of the University of Hamburg said the defensive training drills of the 1990s had turned toward offense in the 2000s as the Russian army regained some of its former strength. Concurrent with its new offensive strategy , Russia embarked on a modernization of its nuclear forces, including its less destructive arms. As in the West, some of the warheads were given variable explosive yields that could be dialed up or down depending on the military situation. A centerpiece of the new arsenal was the Iskander-M, first deployed in 2005 . The mobile launcher can fire two missiles that travel roughly 300 miles. The missiles can carry conventional as well as nuclear warheads. Russian figures put the smallest nuclear blast from those missiles at roughly a third that of the Hiroshima bomb. Before the Russian army invaded Ukraine, satellite images showed that Moscow had deployed Iskander missile batteries in Belarus and to its east in Russian territory . There’s no public data on whether Russia has armed any of the Iskanders with nuclear warheads. Nikolai Sokov , a former Russian diplomat who negotiated arms control treaties in Soviet times, said that nuclear warheads could also be placed on cruise missiles. The low-flying weapons, launched from planes, ships or the ground, hug the local terrain to avoid detection by enemy radar. From inside Russian territory, he said, “they can reach all of Europe,” including Britain. Over the years, the United States and its NATO allies have sought to rival Russia’s arsenal of lesser nuclear arms. It started decades ago as the United States began sending bombs for fighter jets to military bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands. Dr. Kühn noted that the alliance, in contrast to Russia, does not conduct field drills practicing a transition from conventional to nuclear war. In 2010, Mr. Obama, who had long advocated for a “nuclear-free world,” decided to refurbish and improve the NATO weapons, turning them into smart bombs with maneuverable fins that made their targeting highly precise. That, in turn, gave war planners the freedom to lower the weapons’ variable explosive force to as little as 2 percent of that of the Hiroshima bomb. The reduced blast capability made breaking the nuclear taboo “more thinkable,” Gen. James E. Cartwright , a vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Mr. Obama, warned at the time. He nonetheless backed the program because the high degree of precision lowered the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties. But after years of funding and manufacturing delays , the refurbished bomb, known as the B61 Model 12, is not expected to be deployed in Europe until next year, Mr. Kristensen said. Image A B61 Model 12 missile being prepared for acoustic testing at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. The explosive setting on its nuclear warhead is just 2 percent that of the Hiroshima bomb.Credit...Randy Montoya/Sandia Labs The steady Russian buildups and the slow American responses prompted the Trump administration to propose a new missile warhead in 2018. Its destructive force was seen as roughly half that of the Hiroshima bomb, according to Mr. Kristensen. It was to be deployed on the nation’s fleet of 14 ballistic missile submarines. While some experts warned that the bomb, known as the W76 Model 2, could make it more tempting for a president to order a nuclear strike, the Trump administration argued that the weapon would lower the risk of war by ensuring that Russia would face the threat of proportional counterstrikes. It was deployed in late 2019 . “It’s all about psychology — deadly psychology,” said Franklin C. Miller , a nuclear expert who backed the new warhead and, before leaving public office in 2005, held Pentagon and White House posts for three decades. “If your opponent thinks he has a battlefield edge, you try to convince him that he’s wrong.” When he was a candidate for the presidency, Joseph R. Biden Jr. called the less powerful warhead a “bad idea” that would make presidents “more inclined” to use it. But Mr. Kristensen said the Biden administration seemed unlikely to remove the new warhead from the nation’s submarines. It’s unclear how Mr. Biden would respond to the use of a nuclear weapon by Mr. Putin. Nuclear war plans are one of Washington’s most deeply held secrets . Experts say that the war-fighting plans in general go from warning shots to single strikes to multiple retaliations and that the hardest question is whether there are reliable ways to prevent a conflict from escalating. Even Mr. Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said he was unsure how he would advise Mr. Biden if Mr. Putin unleashed his nuclear arms. “When do you stop?” he asked of nuclear retaliation. “You can’t just keep turning the other cheek. At some point we’d have to do something.” A U.S. response to a small Russian blast, experts say, might be to fire one of the new submarine-launched warheads into the wilds of Siberia or at a military base inside Russia. Mr. Miller, the former government nuclear official and a former chairman of NATO’s nuclear policy committee, said such a blast would be a way of signaling to Moscow that “this is serious, that things are getting out of hand.” Military strategists say a tit-for-tat rejoinder would throw the responsibility for further escalation back at Russia, making Moscow feel its ominous weight and ideally keeping the situation from spinning out of control despite the dangers in war of miscalculation and accident. In a darker scenario, Mr. Putin might resort to using atomic arms if the war in Ukraine spilled into neighboring NATO states. All NATO members, including the United States, are obliged to defend one another — potentially with salvos of nuclear warheads. Dr. Tannenwald, the political scientist at Brown University, wondered if the old protections of nuclear deterrence, now rooted in opposing lines of less destructive arms, would succeed in keeping the peace. “It sure doesn’t feel that way in a crisis,” she said. David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington. Show more Image President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine speaking virtually to the U.S. Congress last week. “Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace,” he said.Credit...Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times He told U.S. lawmakers that he had a dream , invoking Martin Luther King Jr. to describe Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion. He said to the British Parliament that his country would fight until the end, in forests and fields, a vow resonant of Winston Churchill’s exhortations against Nazism. To members of the German Parliament he spoke of a new wall dividing Europe, echoing the Berlin Wall of the Cold War. The passionate speeches, delivered remotely by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in his now-ubiquitous military-issue shirt, are part of a vigorous rhetorical effort to rally international support — for arms, or aid to his country, or sanctions against Russia. Image A refugee from Ukraine checks his mobile phone before boarding a bus in Palanca, in eastern Moldova, after crossing the border.Credit...Mauricio Lima for The New York Times Sorting out what is real in Ukraine and what is misinformation designed to provoke an emotional response is hard enough for professional journalists. For everyday people seeing photos and videos cascade through their social media feeds, it is even harder. But the stakes can be high for anyone with an audience, no matter how big or small, if sharing false information — reposting a link on Facebook or retweeting a story that feels urgent — means unwittingly playing into war propaganda. Experts in misinformation say everyone has a responsibility to pause and do a bit of work to verify content before sharing it, even if it would benefit the side you support in a conflict. “It matters because we all have the right to truth, and the more we do to pollute the information environment, the worse it’s going to get,” said Joan Donovan, the research director at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, which has studied the proliferation of misinformation. There are simple steps you can take to limit the misinformation that circulates online. If you can’t verify the authenticity of something you’re tempted to share, you can at least look for warning signs that would give you pause. Show more Image Anastasiya Magerramova (center, in red) at Okhmatdyt Hospital in Kyiv, where she works as a press officer.Credit...Anastasiya Magerramova KRAKOW, Poland — Anastasiya Magerramova spends day and night at the central Kyiv hospital where she works, phone in hand and camera at the ready. While others have chosen to take up arms, Ms. Magerramova, 27, is using her phone as a weapon — working day and night with a handful of colleagues to document the civilians streaming into the hospital in Ukraine’s capital. As the press secretary of Okhmatdyt Hospital in Kyiv, she feels she is fighting her own battle — a battle for truth in an information war playing out alongside the broader conflict. “I feel that my job is important, it is also like a weapon,” she said. “Sometimes I watch Russian news and I see that they tell lies. They lie and I want the world to know the truth.” Ms. Magerramova said that before Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded, she never could have imagined that war would touch her world. Now, documenting the conflict has become the focus of her daily life. On Saturday, after she shared a photo on social media of a young mother who had used her body to shield her baby from shelling , the family’s story instantly reverberated around the world, picked up first by the government, then by activists, Ukrainian news outlets and later the international media. The striking image — shared with the simple retelling of what the young mother, Olga, and her family had experienced — struck a visceral chord. The unique perspective of Ms. Magerramova and her colleagues on the frontline of the battle to save lives has been key to global understanding and awareness of the war’s human toll. They have moved into the hospital, sleeping in the wards and working around the clock to put out information. Ms. Magerramova understands the power and the responsibility of that role as the images and stories she shares on Instagram , Telegram, and Facebook beam into the phones of millions around the world. Much like the hospital itself, Ms. Magerramova has had to adapt to the new reality of war. Where once she focused on taking photos of hopeful children completing cancer treatments, she now stands alongside doctors as they perform emergency surgeries on patients injured by shelling and gunfire. “I want to show the people the consequences of this war: Poor children with shrapnel in their legs, their arms, in their heads,” she said. “It’s not OK, it shouldn’t be like this.” Image Varvara, 7, was injured by Russian shelling as she and her mother fled their home. Credit...Anastasiya Magerramova When Varvara, 7, arrived at the hospital, Ms. Magerramova was there to tell her story. Varvara stayed at the hospital for several days, undergoing a number of surgeries to remove the shrapnel from her body. The pair became close — so much so that Ms. Magerramova said she found it hard to say goodbye last week, but was happy to see her healing. It’s these personal stories that have captured the world’s attention, and kept her phone ringing as she fields calls from journalists around the world. “They also understand the importance of media,” she said. “They understand that it’s a weapon as well.” Show more At 96, he became a casualty of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Mr. Romantschenko was killed on Friday when a projectile hit his apartment building in the northeast city of Kharkiv, the Buchenwald Mittelbau-Dora memorial foundation said on Monday , adding that it had received word of the death from his granddaughter. “We mourn our close friend,” said Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau, a spokesman for the foundation in a statement. Kharkiv has come under withering bombardment from Russian forces and Mr. Romantschenko’s apartment was completely destroyed by fire, the family said. In his later years, Mr. Romantschenko dedicated himself to commemorating the Holocaust and he was vice president of the International Buchenwald-Dora Committee. He repeatedly traveled to Buchenwald to take part in memorial events and last made the trip in 2018, at the age of 92. Mr. Romantschenko was born close to Sumy, Ukraine, on January 20, 1926. At age 16, he was taken to western Germany as a forced laborer following Germany’s invasion of Ukraine. Forced to work in a mine, he planned to flee but was betrayed to the guards and brought to the Buchenwald concentration camp in October of 1943, according to the foundation. It said he also spent time in the Bergen-Belsen and Mittelbau concentration camps, and was forced to work on Germany’s top secret V-2 Rocket system on the Baltic Sea. Show more A man standing in front of the Meta logo, at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.Credit...Carlos Barria/Reuters A Russian court ruled on Monday that Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, is an extremist organization and banned it from operating on Russia’s territory. The “extremist” label will apply to Instagram and Facebook, but not to WhatsApp, and is effective immediately, according to Tass, a state news agency. The ruling followed Meta’s decision to allow users in Ukraine to call for violence against the Russian Army in the context of the invasion . During arguments in the Tverskoy court in Moscow, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said that individuals will not be prosecuted for using Instagram or Facebook. But, according to an analysis by a legal rights group that tracks internet freedoms in Russia, Net Freedoms Project, the court’s ruling will mean that using Instagram or Facebook logos in public — for example, on a clothing store’s website or on the door of a cafe — could result in up to 15 days in jail. Additionally, buying ads from Facebook or Instagram, or trading Meta’s stocks could be considered as “financing an extremist organization” and result in a criminal case. Many users have continued to use all of these social media platforms with virtual private networks, a technology that hides the user’s location. Since the war in Ukraine began, demand for VPNs in Russia increased by more than 2,600 percent at its peak, according to Top10VPN , which tracks the technology’s usage. Meta is the first commercial entity to be labeled an “extremist organization” by Russia; previously, the label was reserved for nongovernmental organizations, and religious and political groups. “This will affect wide layers of the Russian population that haven’t been targeted before,” said Pavel Chikov, the executive director of Agora International Human Rights Group. Russia’s tens of millions of Instagram users, he said, “are people who mostly have never faced troubles with Russian law enforcement.” The Russian government’s lawsuit against Meta was based on the company’s decision to allow users in some countries to call for violence against members of Russia’s military. Such actions are “aimed at inciting hatred and hostility toward citizens of the Russian Federation,” the Russian prosecutor general’s office said in a statement on March 11. Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said in a statement on March 11 that Meta’s policies were intended to protect the right to self-expression for the citizens of a country that has been invaded. “There is no change at all in our policies on hate speech as far as the Russian people are concerned,” Mr. Clegg said. “We will not tolerate Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence toward Russians on our platform.” Show more British Defense Minister Ben Wallace at NATO headquarters in Brussels last week.Credit...Olivier Matthys/Associated Press LONDON — Russia was behind two hoax phone calls placed to top British cabinet ministers by a person pretending to be Ukraine’s prime minister, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday. The calls — to Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel — were purportedly from Denys Shmyhal, the prime minister of Ukraine. A third call, targeting the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, did not go through. “The Russian state was responsible for the hoax telephone calls made to U.K. ministers last week,” said the Downing Street spokesman, who by custom was not identified by name. He did not give more specific details. Mr. Wallace said on Twitter that he had been targeted by an impostor who “posed several misleading questions and after becoming suspicious, I terminated the call.” “This is standard practice for Russian information operations and disinformation is a tactic straight from the Kremlin playbook to try to distract from their illegal activities in Ukraine and the human rights abuses being committed there,” Mr. Johnson’s spokesman said. “We are seeing a string of distraction stories and outright lies from the Kremlin, reflecting Putin’s desperation as he seeks to hide the scale of the conflict and Russia’s failings on the battlefield,” he added. The government has opened an investigation into how an impostor could have gained access to two of its most senior ministers, a jarring security breach. Mr. Wallace has been a particularly outspoken critic of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Writing in The Times of London before the war broke out, he accused Mr. Putin of crude “ethnonationalism,” based on what Mr. Wallace called the bogus claim that Russians and Ukrainians are one people. Show more Digging graves on the side of the road in Mariupol on Sunday.Credit...Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters KRAKOW, Poland — There was the terrifying shelling at night. There was the near-constant roar of planes and sound of explosions overhead in the darkness underground. And then there were the corpses heaped on the street. In a rare firsthand account on social media, Nadezhda Sukhorukova, a Mariupol resident who managed to escape the besieged southern city, has described what she called a living “hell” during weeks of hiding in a basement, only daring to venture out for necessities. “A neighbor said that God left Mariupol. He was afraid of everything he saw,” Ms. Sukhorukova wrote in a series of Facebook posts posted after her escape late last week. “I am alive and now I will live long. And my city is dying a painful death,” she added. “For twenty days I was dying with it. I was in hell.” Before the war, Mariupol’s picturesque coastline provided a backdrop for tourists. Now, it has become the scene of some of the greatest horrors of the war. But there have been few witness accounts of what the estimated 300,000 people trapped in the city have had to endure. The city has been cut off from water, electricity and communications, and the fierce fighting has made it almost impossible to escape. Less than 40 miles from the Russian border and strategically located between a separatist enclave and Crimea, Mariupol has become a key target for Russian forces. Ms. Sukhorukova said one of the few glimmers of hope amid her ordeal was the camaraderie with her neighbors as they struggled to survive the Russian assault. Getting reliable information from the city has been fraught. The only international journalists who had remained in the city in recent weeks were a team from The Associated Press. But they said on Monday they were forced to flee after appearing on a Russian hit list. When people do emerge in the trickle of evacuations through humanitarian corridors that open sporadically, they bring with them glimpses of life under siege. “The dead lie in the entrances, on the balconies, in the yards. And you’re not scared one bit,” Ms. Sukhorukova wrote. “Because the biggest fear is night shelling. Do you know what night shelling looks like? Like death.” The blasts sounded like “a huge hammer is pounding on the iron roof and then a terrible rattle, as if the ground was cut with a huge knife, or a huge iron giant walks in forged boots on your land and steps on houses, trees, people,” she added. “You sit and realize that you can’t even move. You can’t run, there’s no point in screaming, there’s no point in hiding. He will still find you if he wants to. And then there is silence.” As she went out onto the streets looking for water, her hair matted from the inability to bathe for days, she said she dreamed of two things: “not to get shot and to take a hot shower before I die.” Despite the desperate needs of many, Ms. Sukhorukova said that those she was sheltering with pooled their food and water, sharing everything they had. “We forgot that there are shops, that you can turn on the TV, chat on social networks, take a shower or go to sleep in a real bed.” Instead they ate from the same plate so as not to waste water on washing, shared mattresses on the floor. “It was warmer that way,” she said. She said she would question everyone she met to find out the latest news. She finally managed to leave her basement shelter and drove through the city in a friend’s car before joining a convoy of others escaping. She said she didn’t recognize her city. “I sat in the basement for too long, and during this time it was completely destroyed,” she wrote, describing bodies in the road, the charred remains of houses and uprooted trees. Show more A mural supporting Ukraine, in downtown Warsaw on Sunday.Credit...Maciek Nabrdalik for The New York Times WARSAW — Echoing the false history promoted by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to justify his invasion of Ukraine, a senior Kremlin official released an angry diatribe on Monday against Poland, a NATO member country, claiming that it and Russia were bound by cultural, economic and other links but had been driven apart by the machinations of the United States. The splenetic essay, “ On Poland ,” was posted on the Telegram channel of Dmitri A. Medvedev, a loyal ally and longtime friend of Mr. Putin who, after stints as Russia’s president and prime minister, now serves as deputy head of the Kremlin’s security council. Writing that Russia and Poland, both Slavic nations, had a long, if sometimes painful, “common history” that destined them to work together, Mr. Medvedev asserted that Poles had been led astray by “their puppeteers from across the ocean with clear signs of senile insanity.” The attack included accusations that the Polish political elite, whom he described as “vassals” of Washington, were in the grip of a “pathological Russophobia” that was contrary to the interests of their people. It was posted just days before a visit to Warsaw on Friday by President Biden, whose administration is working closely with Poland to get weapons and other assistance to the Ukrainian government of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Commentators in Russia’s state news media have been ratcheting up their attacks against Poland since a visit last week to Kyiv by the Polish prime minister and the leader of the country’s governing party. Both had previously cozied up to Kremlin-friendly European politicians on the far right, but since the invasion began last month they have been in the vanguard of rallying support for Ukraine and denouncing Moscow. After the visit, a foreign affairs analyst for the Russian media outlet Pravda described Poland as the “hyena of Europe” and called for its “denazification,” the Kremlin’s code for forced submission to Moscow. (One of Mr. Putin’s stated justifications for launching the war in Ukraine has been the false claim that Ukraine is run by Nazis.) Once viewed as a relative moderate eager to develop ties with the West, Mr. Medvedev has now become a particularly belligerent member of Mr. Putin’s inner circle, joining hard-line security chiefs at a Kremlin meeting last month to push publicly for military action against Ukraine. Anxious to avoid a direct military clash with Russia, NATO has rejected Ukrainian pleas that it deploy warplanes to deter Russian bombing. But fears that Poland, and with it NATO, could get sucked into the war in Ukraine have been escalating: Last week, Russian missiles destroyed a Ukrainian military base not far from the Polish border. A few hours before that, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that convoys of Western arms into Ukraine through bordering NATO countries were “legitimate targets.” In his Monday diatribe, however, Mr. Medvedev made no overt threats against Poland or NATO. And, unlike Mr. Putin in his prewar historical essay denying the existence of Ukrainians as a separate people , he did not argue that Poles and Russians belonged in a single nation. But he did rake up old grievances, casting Russia as a victim of Polish aggression in the early 17th century, when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth occupied Moscow, and accusing Poland of “forgetting” the Soviet role in defeating Nazi Germany. “History,” he wrote, “is now being redrawn, monuments are being demolished. But the fascist occupation is openly equated with the ‘Soviet.’ It is difficult to come up with a more deceitful and disgusting rhetoric, but the Poles succeed.” He also sent an ominous warning that Poland should make “the right choice” in the interest of peace and prosperity. “Sooner or later they will understand that hatred of Russia does not strengthen the society, it does not contribute to well-being and tranquillity,” Mr. Medvedev said. “There are no anti-Polish sentiments in Russia and never have been,” he added. Show more March 21, 2022, 10:23 a.m. ET Anton Troianovski Reporting from Istanbul Russia summoned the American ambassador to Moscow, John J. Sullivan, to warn that “recent statements” by President Biden about President Vladimir V. Putin had put “Russian-American relations on the verge of breaking,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Last week, Biden called Putin a “murderous dictator” and a “pure thug.” March 21, 2022, 8:13 a.m. ET March 21, 2022, 8:13 a.m. ET Marc Santora Ukraine’s foreign ministry accused Russia of forcibly relocating thousands of children from the eastern Donbas region to Russia. Oleg Nikolenko, the ministry's spokesman, said in a statement that 2,389 children were taken from their parents on a single day, March 19. The claim could not be independently confirmed. March 21, 2022, 7:27 a.m. ET March 21, 2022, 7:27 a.m. ET Volunteers built a tent for humanitarian aid at Freedom Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Friday.Credit...Oleksandr Lapshyn/Reuters Fierce fighting was undermining the struggle to get people out of cities devastated by the war, while Ukrainian officials accused Russia of attacking civilians and relief efforts. President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the nation overnight, said that a relief convoy headed to a city in northeastern Ukraine near Kharkiv had been hijacked by Russian forces and authorities had lost contact with six people in it, suggesting they had been detained. “Five drivers and one doctor. We will release them,” he said. The claim could not be independently verified, but Russian soldiers have been targeting civilians. “We will try again and again to deliver to our people what they need,” Mr. Zelensky said. On Sunday, 7,295 people were evacuated through four humanitarian corridors in the east and south, he said. That includes some 4,000 residents of the embattled southern port city of Mariupol who made it to safety. But hundreds of thousands remain trapped in Mariupol and Mr. Zelensky said the authorities would try once again on Monday to reach as many people there as they could. Human Rights Watch on Monday called on Russian forces to ensure that civilians in Mariupol and other cities are not being denied access to their most basic needs. “Mariupol residents have described a freezing hellscape riddled with dead bodies and destroyed buildings,” Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “And these are the lucky ones who were able to escape, leaving behind thousands who are cut off from the world in the besieged city.” Aid groups raised similar concerns about other parts of Ukraine, as well. Birgitte Bischoff Ebbesen, the regional European director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that vital supplies are needed “to avert an even greater humanitarian catastrophe” across the country. Many of the people in most dire need were already vulnerable before the conflict. “They face an even harsher situation as they are losing their homes and their livelihoods, being forced to seek shelter wherever they can or fleeing their country in search of safety,” she said in a statement . Show more Video KYIV, Ukraine — A Russian missile strike reduced a sprawling shopping mall in Kyiv to a smoldering ruin, one of the most powerful strikes to rock the center of the Ukrainian capital since the war began last month. City officials said at least eight people were killed, though the toll was likely to rise from the explosion around midnight at the shopping mall, Retroville, in northern Kyiv. It was so powerful that it blew debris hundreds of yards in every direction, shook buildings and flattened one part of the mall. It turned the parking lot into a sea of flames. On Monday, roughly eight hours after the strike, firefighters were still battling pockets of flames while soldiers and emergency crews searched the rubble for any survivors or casualties. By 8 a.m. local time, the rescuers had pulled out six bodies and covered them with plastic, and they held out little hope for finding survivors. A soldier at the scene said body parts littered the wreckage. In the mall itself, burst pipes sent water cascading through a mess of tangled metal and concrete. An office building next door was still standing, but all of its windows were blown out and a fire was burning inside at dawn. There was no visible evidence of any military vehicles or hardware at the devastated site. All of Kyiv, however, is involved in the defense of the capital, a once-thriving metropolis turned into a fortress. While Kyiv has been under bombardment for weeks, the scope of the devastation around the mall was greater than anything The New York Times has witnessed inside the city limits. Ukrainian armed forces have waged ferocious battles in the cities around Kyiv and have managed to push Russian forces back in places. The British defense intelligence agency said on Monday that the bulk of those forces were more than 15 miles from the center and that taking Kyiv remained “Russia’s primary military objective.” With the city seemingly out of artillery range, Russia has turned to rockets and bombs, often targeting civilian infrastructure and neighborhoods. The Retroville mall hosted a multiplex movie theater, a fitness club and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and KFC as well as a whole gallery dedicated to sporting goods, among other stores. On the first day of the war in Ukraine, its managers announced a temporary closure on Facebook and offered information on the nearest shelters. “We believe in our army and peaceful sky,” they said in the post. To date, it was their last. Show more Image For millions of internally displaced people, Lviv is the gateway to safety, however fleeting, in the west.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times LVIV, Ukraine — On the night before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a musician was singing on a cobblestone street in the heart of Lviv’s old town, the glow from heat lamps casting a soft light on a yellow stone house. Until the war, it was the home of Wild House, part exhibition space, part barbershop, part TikTok studio, and a gathering spot for artists and digital nomads. Now, it is a boardinghouse for people fleeing Russia’s assault. It started informally, with word of its existence spreading in rushed phone calls and frenzied text messages. As the war expanded, so did word of Wild House, now part of an elaborate volunteer network dealing with a never ending stream of need. Nadiya Opryshko, 29, an aspiring journalist turned humanitarian, is the driving force behind its transformation. “The military of Russia, they are fighting for nothing,” she said in an interview. “They did not know and cannot understand what they are fighting for. “Ukrainian people, we know what we are fighting for,” she continued. “We are fighting for peace. We are fighting for our country. And we are fighting for freedom.” Image Volunteers joining the territorial defenses at a military school in Lviv this month. Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times Her story, and that of Wild House, in many ways mirror the broader transformation that her city and her nation have undergone in only a few weeks of war. The signs of change are visible everywhere, at once strange but also oddly familiar, former rituals playing out in a radically altered context. A family stands on a corner with their suitcases near a French cafe, as the voice of Edith Piaf wafts in the background. But they are not tourists. In their suitcases are lifetimes condensed, whatever time and space would allow as they ran. Two people share coffee at Black Honey. Not old friends, but a soldier of fortune and an Australian journalist. The hotels are all full, but the travelers are not tourists drawn to the city’s magnificent architecture , but relief workers, diplomats, journalists, spies and an assortment of other people whose pursuits are harder to divine. And, always, there are the air raid sirens, wailing reminders of the destruction raining on cities across the country that, with the horrific strike last week on a military base just outside of town and another attack on Friday near the airport, are drawing ever closer to the city itself. But every day that Ukrainian forces around the capital, Kyiv, and other cities fight off the Russian onslaught is another day for Lviv to harden its defenses. Artwork is now stowed in bunkers. Four limestone statues in Rynok Square, meant as an allegory for the Earth, are now wrapped in foam and plastic, turning Neptune into a silhouette with only his trident identifiable. The stained-glass windows of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, founded in 1360, are covered in metal to protect them from Russian rockets. Image Statues and monuments of cultural significance around Lviv were wrapped with foam and plastic sheeting, in an effort to protect them against a potential Russian bombardment.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times The majority of the three million people who have fled Ukraine have passed through Lviv’s train and bus stations. And for millions more internally displaced people, Lviv is the gateway to safety, however fleeting, in the west. The city is overstuffed with people and emotion. Energy and despair. Anger and determination. The morning after the first air raid siren sounded before dawn on Feb. 24, however, there was mostly uncertainty. People emerged bleary eyed and unsure, lining up at bank machines and stores, rushing to collect valuables and making plans to wait out the storm. Most of the shops closed, taxis stopped working and seemingly everyone went on Telegram to watch videos — some real, some fake — of Russian fighter jets roaring over cities and Russian missiles crashing into buildings. The hotels emptied as people rushed to join loved ones in Ukraine and outside the country. “They are afraid for their families, afraid for their friends,” Denys Derchachev, 36, a doorman at the Citadel Inn, said on the first morning of the war. Image People arriving from eastern Ukraine disembark in Lviv last week.Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times Christina Kornienko was in line to collect her valuables from a safe deposit box. But even in the shock of the moment, she had an idea of what would happen next. “The women will go to Poland and the men will fight,” she said. She was right. Shock quickly turned to anger, which fueled a remarkable sense of solidarity. Less than a month ago, Arsan, 35, was the owner of a local coffee shop. He was about to go to the gym when his wife told him the country was at war. Four days later, he was learning how to make firebombs and spot the fluorescent markers placed by Russian saboteurs on buildings to direct missile strikes. “We can learn to shoot because we don’t know how this situation will develop,” he said. He said he was scared of what “crazy people may do,” particularly President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, with his talk about nuclear weapons, but Arsan was confident in the army. “The Ukrainian army is doing a great job,” he said. “They are super people.” Image Mourners at the funeral of a Ukrainian soldier Viktor Dudar in Lviv this month.Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times A month ago, Arsan’s confidence could easily have been dismissed as bravado. Few military analysts gave the Ukrainian army much of a chance against what was assumed to be the Russian army’s superior firepower and professionalism. But with each passing day — as Ukrainian forces defend Kyiv, hang on with grim determination in Mariupol and mount a spirited campaign to keep Russian forces from advancing on Odessa — the nation’s belief in itself appears to deepen. Periodically, the Ukrainian military makes expansive claims, impossible to verify, about its achievements on the battlefield. This month, for example, it said that since the start of the war, its forces had killed 13,500 Russian soldiers and destroyed 404 tanks, 81 planes, 95 helicopters and more than 1,200 armored personnel carriers. These numbers, that Western analysts say are almost certainly inflated, are cited by President Volodymyr Zelensky in his daily talks to the nation — once, twice, sometimes three or four times a day, as he channels the nation’s anger and tries to lift its spirits. It is a routine he has managed to keep up for weeks, often bringing Ukrainians to tears while inspiring a resistance born of baristas, computer programmers, accountants and lawyers. But an army, as Napoleon once said, moves on its stomach, even a civilian one. And the effort to supply the nation’s ever growing cadre of citizen-warriors, like so many aspects of the nation’s defense, started with volunteers. Image Veterans in Lviv collect first aid supplies to be sent to the front lines around the countryCredit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times Hundreds of them assemble daily at the Lviv Palace of Arts, fighting the war by packing jars of pickled preserves, mountains of donated clothes, gallons of water and trash bags stuffed with toiletries. “We began immediately after the bombardment started,” said Yuri Viznyak, the artistic director of the center, who now finds himself leading a critical hub in the war effort. And with Russians increasingly targeting civilians, much of his work is now devoted to getting relief to people in dire need. But as soldiers, weapons and humanitarian aid move from Lviv to the eastern front, a tide of humanity continues to move in the other direction. With each day, the stories they carry to Lviv grow more dire. Image Katya Rudenko, 16, plays with Dominika, 3, a friend's daughter, at a puppet theater being used to house displaced people in Lviv, Ukraine, on Friday.Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times Matukhno Vitaliy, 23, is from the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine and the city of Lysychansk, near the Russian border. It took him two days and nights to reach Lviv in a crowded evacuation train. He said his parents were still in the city, with no running water because all the pipes had been destroyed. It had 100,000 inhabitants before the war, but there is no telling how many have fled and how many have died. “Everything is destroyed,” he said. Mariupol. Kharkiv. Chernihiv. Sumy. Okhtyrka. Hostomel. Irpin. The list of Ukrainian cities turned to ruins keeps growing. While the Russian advance may have slowed, the destruction has not. Any illusions people in Lviv might have had that their city might be spared have long faded. So grandmothers join grandchildren stringing fabric together to make camouflage nets. Villagers on the outskirts of the city dig trenches and erect barricades. Movie streaming sites feature videos on how to make firebombs. Image A checkpoint, with Molotov cocktails at the ready, outside Lviv earlier this month.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times Yet, in contrast to the first days of the war, the city is humming with life. Stores have reopened and street musicians are performing. Alcohol is banned, but bars are full. A 7 p.m. curfew means finding a table for the compressed dinner hours is a challenge. But the posters around town that once advertised local businesses have been replaced by war propaganda. Many take aim at Mr. Putin, focusing on a crude remark he made about Mr. Zelensky. “Like it or not, beauty, you have to put up with it,” Mr. Putin said, using an expression that rhymes in Russian. Ukrainians believe he was making a reference to rape — a prelude to what they say is the rape of a nation. One of the most popular posters features a woman looming over Mr. Putin. Jabbing a gun into his mouth, she says, “I am not your beauty.” Show more KRAKOW, Poland — President Volodymyr Zelensky, in an overnight address to Ukrainians, said that the Russian bombing of an art school in the besieged coastal city of Mariupol on Sunday may have left up to 400 people trapped. “There were no military positions,” he said, adding that the 400 people sheltering there from relentless shelling in the city were mostly women, children or seniors. “They are under the debris. We do not know how many are alive at the moment.” The strike had echoes of an attack in the same city last week on a theater where hundreds of people were sheltering , with the word “children” written in huge letters on the ground outside as a warning against airstrikes. It was reduced to rubble. More than 7,000 people were evacuated through humanitarian corridors on Sunday, Mr. Zelensky said, though only four of the humanitarian corridors set up to allow for escape had remained open. On Monday, more buses will be sent to Mariupol to continue evacuations. But elsewhere in the country, he said, Russian forces had targeted humanitarian efforts intended to spare civilians from the worst effects of their sieges. He accused Russian troops of capturing a convoy delivering humanitarian supplies to the town of Vovchansk, which is on a route from Russia into Kharkiv, a major city where Russian forces have laid siege since the start of the war, destroying civilian infrastructure . “There is no connection now with six people, five drivers and one doctor,” Mr. Zelensky said of the convoy. “We will release them. We will try again and again to deliver to our people what they need.” Mr. Zelensky applauded resistance in Kherson, a Black Sea port that is the most important city so far claimed by Russian forces, saying he was grateful to the military and ordinary civilians there for keeping Russia from taking full control. In a message directed at the Russian side, he said the Russian military was struggling to get home, adding, “That is why our soldiers help them with the path to God’s judgment.” What they would find in hell, he said, would be much like the besieged cities of Ukraine: “I am sure they receive only one punishment, one for all: the eternal cellar. Forever under the bombs. Forever without food, water and heat. For everything they did to our people, ordinary Ukrainians.” Show more March 21, 2022, 3:07 a.m. ET Megan Specia Reporting from Warsaw Two missiles struck a military training ground in the area of Rivne, in northwestern Ukraine, the governor of the region said in a video message early on Monday. It was unclear what had been damaged and if there were any casualties. March 21, 2022, 3:05 a.m. ET March 21, 2022, 3:05 a.m. ET Andrew E. Kramer Reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine A powerful missile struck a shopping mall in northern Kyiv, reducing what was until recently a buzzing hive of commerce into a scene of utter devastation. By 8 a.m. Monday, six dead bodies had been pulled from the rubble. A soldier at the scene, who described body parts littering the wreckage, said there may be more than two dozen more in the rubble. Image President Biden will travel to Europe on Wednesday. Credit...Tom Brenner for The New York Times President Biden will travel to Europe for talks with some of America’s closest allies this week, in his most direct effort yet to rally opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His week of diplomacy will begin Monday, in a call with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy. He will then travel on Wednesday to Brussels, where NATO will hold an emergency meeting on a response to the war. One of the most potentially divisive issues at the NATO meeting will be a proposal from Poland to organize an international peacekeeping mission for Ukraine. While NATO has carried out such missions in Europe before, those were done after fighting eased. While the United States provides weapons to Ukraine, Mr. Biden has resisted calls to support a no-fly zone over the country, fearing it could draw the United States closer to a direct confrontation with Russia. NATO and American officials have also said there are no plans to send troops to Ukraine. Later Thursday, Mr. Biden will join a European Council summit and a G7 meeting called by Germany to discuss imposing more sanctions against President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. They will also discuss how to help the more than three million people who have fled Ukraine. On Friday, he will visit Poland, a NATO member that borders Ukraine and is the main destination for refugees. He is scheduled to discuss the humanitarian crisis caused by the war with President Andrzej Duda of Poland. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said there are no plans for Mr. Biden to travel to Ukraine during the trip. “The trip will be focused on continuing to rally the world in support of the Ukrainian people and against President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” she wrote on Twitter . Mr. Biden’s travels follow repeated talks between Russia and Ukraine, including a meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries in Turkey earlier this month. While those negotiations have made no clear progress, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said Sunday that the two sides were close to an agreement, and he was hopeful about the chances of a cease-fire. American officials have questioned whether Russia has been a sincere participant in the talks and downplayed the possibility of a deal. “The negotiations seem to be one-sided, and the Russians have not leaned into any possibility for a negotiated and diplomatic solution,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN on Sunday . Show more

Mar 3, 2022
China Dreams
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    Dreams's latest funding round is Merger.

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