In Ukraine’s South, Fierce Fighting and Deadly Costs

AT THE KHERSON FRONT, Ukraine — The commander banged on the door furiously.

“I need help!” he shouted.

When Tetiana Kozyr opened up, the commander rushed in, carrying a young soldier on his shoulders. She said the young man was sunburned, thin and gravely wounded.

The Ukrainians were trying to recapture her village, the smallest dot on the most detailed military maps. Russian forces had just blown up three Ukrainian tanks. Flames leaped off the roofs of neighboring houses.

refused to let his commanders retreat from the city of Kherson, according to American officials.

recently said that Ukraine was losing 50 soldiers a day.

officially announced the beginning of the offensive. She fled a few days later and now lives in a displaced persons shelter in the city of Zaporizhzhia.

She said that when the commander first arrived with the wounded soldier, she panicked.

“I was yelling at him: ‘Why did you bring him here? The Russians will kill us all!’” she said.

But the commander just stepped through the doorway, desperate to find shelter. The village was on fire, in the middle of two armies blasting each other.

She shrunk back as her husband and the commander pressed bandages to the young man’s wounds. Shrapnel had sliced through his back and lungs. Her kitchen floor was soon covered in blood.

That night, she and her husband slept in their cellar. The commander curled up next to the wounded soldier on the kitchen floor.

When Ms. Kozyr stepped outside the next morning, to check on her calf and pigs, she passed by the kitchen and peered through the window.

The soldier’s hands were curled, his body stiff. He was dead.

She started crying at the memory of it, pulling a small rag out of her pocket and wiping her eyes. But she did not question the counteroffensive.

“It needed to be done,” she said. And then she repeated herself, a little more softly. “It needed to be done.”

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn and Oleksandr Chubko contributed reporting from Mykolaiv, Ukraine, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Pokrovsk, Ukraine.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Shock Waves Hit the Global Economy, Posing Grave Risk to Europe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the continuing effects of the pandemic have hobbled countries around the globe, but the relentless series of crises has hit Europe the hardest, causing the steepest jump in energy prices, some of the highest inflation rates and the biggest risk of recession.

The fallout from the war is menacing the continent with what some fear could become its most challenging economic and financial crisis in decades.

While growth is slowing worldwide, “in Europe it’s altogether more serious because it’s driven by a more fundamental deterioration,” said Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics. Real incomes and living standards are falling, he added. “Europe and Britain are just worse off.”

eightfold increase in natural gas prices since the war began presents a historic threat to Europe’s industrial might, living standards, and social peace and cohesion. Plans for factory closings, rolling blackouts and rationing are being drawn up in case of severe shortages this winter.

China, a powerful engine of global growth and a major market for European exports like cars, machinery and food, is facing its own set of problems. Beijing’s policy of continuing to freeze all activity during Covid-19 outbreaks has repeatedly paralyzed large swaths of the economy and added to worldwide supply chain disruptions. In the last few weeks alone, dozens of cities and more than 300 million people have been under full or partial lockdowns. Extreme heat and drought have hamstrung hydropower generation, forcing additional factory closings and rolling blackouts.

refusing to pay their mortgages because they have lost confidence that developers will ever deliver their unfinished housing units. Trade with the rest of the world took a hit in August, and overall economic growth, although likely to outrun rates in the United States and Europe, looks as if it will slip to its slowest pace in a decade this year. The prospect has prompted China’s central bank to cut interest rates in hopes of stimulating the economy.

“The global economy is undoubtedly slowing,” said Gregory Daco, chief economist at the global consulting firm EY- Parthenon, but it’s “happening at different speeds.”

In other parts of the world, countries that are able to supply vital materials and goods — particularly energy producers in the Middle East and North Africa — are seeing windfall gains.

And India and Indonesia are growing at unexpectedly fast paces as domestic demand increases and multinational companies look to vary their supply chains. Vietnam, too, is benefiting as manufacturers switch operations to its shores.

head-spinning energy bills this winter ratcheted up this week after Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company, declared it would not resume the flow of natural gas through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline until Europe lifted Ukraine-related sanctions.

Daily average electricity prices in Western Europe have reached record levels, according to Rystad Energy, surging past 600 euros ($599) per megawatt-hour in Germany and €700 in France, with peak-hour rates as high as €1,500.

In the Czech Republic, roughly 70,000 angry protesters, many with links to far-right groups, gathered in Wenceslas Square in Prague this past weekend to demonstrate against soaring energy bills.

The German, French and Finnish governments have already stepped in to save domestic power companies from bankruptcy. Even so, Uniper, which is based in Germany and one of Europe’s largest natural gas buyers and suppliers, said last week that it was losing more than €100 million a day because of the rise in prices.

International Monetary Fund this week to issue a proposal to reform the European Union’s framework for government public spending and deficits.

caps blunt the incentive to reduce energy consumption — the chief goal in a world of shortages.

Central banks in the West are expected to keep raising interest rates to make borrowing more expensive and force down inflation. On Thursday, the European Central Bank raised interest rates by three-quarters of a point, matching its biggest increase ever. The U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to do the same when it meets this month. The Bank of England has taken a similar position.

The worry is that the vigorous push to bring down prices will plunge economies into recessions. Higher interest rates alone won’t bring down the price of oil and gas — except by crashing economies so much that demand is severely reduced. Many analysts are already predicting a recession in Germany, Italy and the rest of the eurozone before the end of the year. For poor and emerging countries, higher interest rates mean more debt and less money to spend on the most vulnerable.

“I think we’re living through the biggest development disaster in history, with more people being pushed more quickly into dire poverty than has every happened before,” said Mr. Goldin, the Oxford professor. “It’s a particularly perilous time for the world economy.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Russia’s Unfounded Claims of Secret U.S. Bioweapons Linger On and On

The United States secretly manufactured biological weapons in Ukraine. It trained birds to carry pathogens into Russia. It created Covid-19. It operated laboratories in Nigeria that engineered this year’s outbreak of monkeypox.

Of the many falsehoods that the Kremlin has spread since the war in Ukraine began more than six months ago, some of the most outlandish and yet enduring have been those accusing the United States of operating clandestine biological research programs to wreak havoc around the globe.

The United States and others have dismissed the accusations as preposterous, and Russia has offered no proof. Yet the claims continue to circulate. Backed at times by China’s diplomats and state media, they have ebbed and flowed in international news reports, fueling conspiracy theories that linger online.

international treaty that since 1975 has barred the development and use of weapons made of biological toxins or pathogens, gives member nations the authority to request a formal hearing of violations, and Russia has invoked the first one in a quarter-century.

the origins of Covid-19 has.

“The message is constantly about these labs, and that will erode confidence in that infrastructure and the work that’s being performed,” said Filippa Lentzos, an expert on biological threats and security at King’s College London. “And it will significantly undermine global biosafety and biosecurity efforts, so it does have consequences.”

Russia added the outbreak of monkeypox to its list of American transgressions in April. Gen. Igor A. Kirillov, the head of the Russian Army’s radiological, chemical and biological defense force, insinuated that the United States had started the latest outbreak because it supported four research laboratories in Nigeria where the epidemic began to spread.

In the months after the general’s comments, there were nearly 4,000 articles in Russian media, many of them shared on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, according to research conducted by Zignal Labs for The New York Times.

For evidence of a conspiracy, some of the Russian reports pointed to a simulation in 2021 at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of defense officials and experts from around the world. The simulation, intended to test how well countries would contain a new pandemic, posited a hypothetical monkeypox outbreak that began in a fictional country called Brinia and caused 270 million deaths.

a statement in May trying to tamp down any misconception.

routinely amplifies Russian claims about the war with Ukraine and about secret biological weapons research, as part of its own information battle with the United States that began with the debate over the spread of Covid-19.

China’s heavily censored internet, which aggressively stifles unwelcome political opinions, has also freely circulated conspiracy theories about a possible American role in the spread of monkeypox, as Bloomberg reported.

Russia’s efforts to push the claims about biological weapons come from an old Russia propaganda playbook, adapted to the age of social media.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation called the Russian strategy a “fire hose of falsehood,” inundating the public with huge numbers of claims that are designed to deflect attention and cause confusion and distrust as much as to provide an alternative point of view.

died on Tuesday, that it would hurt newly warming relations with the West.

Russia’s propaganda model today has been adapted to take advantage of “technology and available media in ways that would have been inconceivable during the Cold War,” according to the RAND study.

Despite “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions” and a disregard of consistency, the strategy can often be persuasive to some, especially those who have preconceived biases, one of the authors, Christopher Paul, said in an interview.

“There are still people who believe the C.I.A. caused AIDS in Africa, even though that idea has been thoroughly debunked,” Mr. Paul said. “Not many, but some.”

Like many disinformation campaigns, Russia’s accusations on occasion have a passing relationship to facts.

Even before the war in Ukraine, Russia raised alarms about U.S. efforts to establish closer defense and research ties with several of Russia’s neighbors, including other former republics of the Soviet Union.

invoked a special session was in 1997, when Cuba accused the United States of spraying a plume of insects over the country’s crops, causing a devastating infestation.

The proceedings were not public, but several nations later submitted written observations about Cuba’s claims and the United States’ rebuttal. Only North Korea supported Cuba’s claim. Eight countries — Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand — concluded there was no link. China and Vietnam said it was impossible to determine. (Russia submitted no response.)

“There’s a big silent majority that just wants to sit on the fence,” Dr. Lentzos said. “They don’t really want to take a side because it could hurt their interests either way. And so the big question is not ‘Do these guys believe it, or not?’ It’s to what extent are they motivated to act on it and speak out.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Germans Tip-Toe Up the Path to Energy Savings

AUGSBURG, Germany — Wolfgang Hübschle went into city government expecting a simple life, planning things like traditional festivals replete with lederhosen.

Instead, these days he has the unpopular task of calculating which traffic lights to shut off, how to lower temperatures in offices and swimming pools — and perhaps, if it comes to it, pulling the plug on Bavarians’ beloved but energy-intensive breweries.

Municipal officials like Mr. Hübschle, the economic adviser to the provincial Bavarian city of Augsburg, sit on the front line of a geopolitical struggle with Russia since European Union leaders agreed this week to try to reduce natural gas consumption by 15 percent, fearing that President Vladimir V. Putin could cut exports in retaliation for Europe’s support for Ukraine.

a second pipeline from Russia, until the war forced the project to be suspended.

underlined the threat this week when it reduced flows through Nord Stream 1 into Germany to just 20 percent, citing, unconvincingly for many, problems with its German-made turbines.

Roughly half of all homes in Germany are heated with gas, while a third of the country’s gas is used by industry. If the coming winter is particularly cold, a cutoff would be brutal.

reopening coal-fired power plants to replace those that burn gas and rapidly expanding infrastructure for liquefied natural gas, along with securing contracts for deliveries from Qatar and the United States.

In a recent social media post, Mr. Habeck admonished people to change their daily habits as part of the effort to reach the country’s goal of saving 20 percent.

“If you think, OK, swapping out the shower head, thawing out the freezer or turning down the heater, none of that makes a difference — you are deceiving yourself,” Mr. Habeck said. “It is an excuse to do nothing.”

Some officials have expressed concern that the government is stoking panic. And some are hoping incentives will encourage careful energy use.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has pledged to increase housing subsidies and shield renters from evictions over unpaid heating bills. This week, Munich announced an “energy bonus” of 100 euros to households that cut their annual consumption by 20 percent, and its utility company launched an energy-saving competition for customers this autumn.

Germans seem to be responding. The Federal Association of Energy and Water said the country was using almost 15 percent less gas compared to the same period last year, a trend they partly attributed to the record price of energy. Costs will increase further by the beginning of October, when the government introduces a gas surcharge.

In response, space heaters and wood ovens are selling out in many cities, and there is a long wait for mini-solar-panel units to power some home devices.

Claudia Kemfert, an energy economist with the German Institute for Economic Research, said such savings were critical but worried the country had wasted several months with appeals to citizens instead of taking more robust action with business.

Companies have shown they can reduce their gas consumption when they are not given a choice. Automaker Mercedes-Benz said on Wednesday it had trimmed 10 percent of its gas usage, and could cut as much as 50 percent while maintaining full operations.

“There is a lot we can achieve through market-based approaches, we should exhaust every option we have on that front so that we can avoid an emergency situation,” Ms. Kemfert said.

Municipal officials say they will have no way to understand how much their efforts can help until they get more data.

In Munich, capital of the southern state of Bavaria and an epicenter of German industry, the deputy mayor, Katrin Habenschaden, is skeptical.

“I honestly don’t believe that this can be compensated for, as much as I appreciate it through our efforts now to save energy.” she said. “Rather, I believe that we simply need other options or other solutions.”

As the deputy responsible for managing economic affairs, she has been helping the city with a kind of economic triage — assessing what kind of rationing different companies could face. Businesses, big and small, are courting the city, to make their case for why they should be spared.

Bavaria is of particular concern because it is home to companies that are drivers of German industry, like BMW and Siemens. The conservative regional government’s reluctance to challenge its heavy dependence on gas and push forward on renewable energies has also left it particularly vulnerable, Ms. Habenschaden, a Green, argued.

In Augsburg and Munich, local officials have requested that every city employee send their suggestions. One Augsburg civil servant pointed out the city’s two data centers were a major energy drain. They are now considering whether they can rely on just one.

More quietly, many local leaders are pondering which energy-hungry German traditions may have to be put on the chopping block, should the country be forced into energy rationing: Beer making? Christmas markets?

Mr. Hübschle said he believes Bavaria should shut down its famous breweries before letting its chemical industry face gas shortages.

Meanwhile, Rosi Steinberger, a member of Bavaria’s regional parliament, now works in a dark office to cut her consumption, and is debating whether to provoke the inevitable ire of Munich by suggesting it cancel its world-famous Oktoberfest. It is scheduled to return this fall after a two-year pandemic pause.

“I haven’t asked yet,” she said, with a nervous laugh. “But I also think that when people say there should be no taboos in what we consider — well, that’s what you have to think about.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

The Hunt Is On for ‘War Trophies’ in Ukraine

KYIV — When Ihor Sumliennyi, a young environmental activist, arrived at the site of a recent missile strike, the rubble had barely stopped smoking.

Police officers guarded the street. People who had lived in the smashed apartment building stared in disbelief, some making the sign of the cross next to him. He started poking around.

And then, bam! His eyes lit up. Right in front of him, lying near the sidewalk, was exactly what he was looking for: a mangled chunk of shrapnel, a piece of the actual Russian cruise missile that had slammed into the building.

Serhii Petrov, a well-known artist working in Lviv. He’s now incorporating spent bullet cartridges into the masks he makes.

As he handled one, he mused, “Maybe it was someone’s last bullet.”

At a charity auction in Lviv on Sunday, Valentyn Lapotkov, a computer programmer, paid more than $500 for an empty missile tube that had been used, the auctioneers said, to blow up a Russian armored personnel carrier. He said that when he touched it he felt “close to our heroes.”

Memorializing the war, even when it’s likely far from over, is a way to show solidarity with the soldiers and those who have suffered. One of Kyiv’s biggest museums recently staged an exhibition of war artifacts collected since the Russians invaded in February. The rooms are full of gas masks, missile tubes and charred debris. The message is clear: See, this is what real war really looks like.

Fridays for Future movement, organizing social media campaigns against fossil fuels, and during the hundreds of video calls he makes, he shows off his war trophies. He also sends some out of the country with female activists to “go on tour” (he can’t travel himself, because of Ukraine’s ban on military-age men leaving the country).

Dominika Lasota, a climate justice activist from Warsaw. “I automatically started to laugh at it, in shock, but then realized how dystopian this moment was.”

“Ihor seemed to be all chill about it,” she added of Mr. Sumliennyi. “He actually showed that piece of the bomb with pride — he was smiling.”

UAID foundation, a volunteer network that, among the many things it’s doing, has sold more than 15 pieces of war debris, including several missile and rocket tubes used by the Ukrainian military that are big hits. All told, the war debris has netted more than $4,000, which the foundation spends on protective vests, medicine and other supplies for Ukrainian troops.

“We are taking things used to kill people to now save lives,” she said.

She said that one young Ukrainian soldier fighting in the Donbas region has been a huge help in finding things from the front lines. He has jumped out of trenches even as Russian shells were exploding around him and fellow soldiers were yelling at him to take cover. But, she said, he’s close to a bunch of volunteers and yells back, “I have to go. My friends need this stuff!”

Bucha, a Kyiv suburb where Russian troops slaughtered hundreds of civilians, to take photos for a social media campaign about the connection between fossil fuels and Russia’s war machine.

Just by chance, they stumbled into a backyard where they found a Russian military jacket and the pair of black boots (size 10). They remain among his prized items.

“We didn’t go to Bucha looking for this,” he said. “We just got lucky.”

Diego Ibarra Sanchez contributed reporting from Lviv and Oleksandra Mykolyshyn from Kyiv.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Looming Question for Putin Opponents: Can You Change Russia From Jail?

Shortly after Russia shocked the world by attacking Ukraine on Feb. 24, Ilya V. Yashin, a local Moscow councilman and prominent opposition figure, decided it was time to see a dentist.

The Kremlin was in the process of criminalizing criticism of the war, and Mr. Yashin, a very vocal critic, had decided to stay in his home country and continue to oppose President Vladimir V. Putin. Eventually, he reasoned, jail time was highly likely.

“I’m honestly terrified of dentists,” Mr. Yashin said in a recent interview on YouTube, “but I got ahold of myself and did it because I realized that if I ended up in prison, there wouldn’t be any dentists there.”

decided to stay, took the opposite view, saying it was impossible to engage in politics seriously from abroad.

“You cannot be a Russian politician in New York, in Manhattan,” Ms. Albats said in a phone interview from Moscow. “You cannot call yourself a Russian politician and be in London.” Still, she conceded, “The risks are very high and they are getting higher.”

Mr. Yashin acknowledged as much in the YouTube interview posted shortly before his arrest, with the Russian journalist Yuri Dud. “I understand that each day could be my last one as a free man,” he said.

He later wrote on social media that he believed it was his clear refusal to leave, expressed in that interview, that resulted in his arrest.

photograph of women protesting the Vietnam War in 1969, saying that the hypocrisy behind the rationale for the war, expressed in the slogan “bombing for peace,” remained present today.

He was also fined in May for citing a condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan by Andrei Sakharov, the first Russian to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the well-known words of a Soviet bard who raised alarm about the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

After the invasion began in February, he continued to call out Mr. Putin’s government, holding regular livestreams on his YouTube channel criticizing the power of the security services in Russia. He also documented a visit to the penal colony holding the most prominent Russian opposition figure, Aleksei A. Navalny, and made reference to a BBC report about Russian atrocities in Bucha, the basis of his charge for distributing false information.

survived an attempted poisoning, returned to Russia and was immediately arrested It was on Mr. Navalny’s advice that Mr. Yashin went to the dentist.

linked to Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman who has led the Russian region of Chechnya since 2007. Around the time of his murder, Mr. Nemtsov was compiling a report on the involvement of Russian soldiers in the war that had begun in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Mr. Yashin finished and released the report, and became one of the few politicians willing to openly criticize the Chechen leader.

In 2017, Mr. Yashin and fellow opposition candidates won seven out of 10 seats on the local council in the Krasnoselsky district of Moscow.

seven years in a penal colony.

Ms. Kotenochkina said the case against her and Mr. Gorinov had been a “hint” to Mr. Yashin that he should leave the country or face prison.

government label tantamount to enemy of the state.

“Now people see: We are not running anywhere, we stand our ground and share the fate of our country,” he wrote.

“This makes our words worth more and our arguments stronger. But most importantly, it leaves us a chance to regain our homeland. After all, the winner is not the one who is stronger right now, but the one who is ready to go to the end.”

Alina Lobzina contributed reporting.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Kyiv Nightlife Comes Back Amid Urge for Contact. ‘This Is the Cure.’

KYIV — The rave had been planned for weeks, with the space secured and the D.J.s, the drinks, the invites and the security all lined up.

But after a recent missile strike far from the front lines killed more than 25 people, including children, in central Ukraine, an attack that deeply unsettled all Ukraine, the rave organizers met to make a hard, last-minute decision. Should they postpone the party?

They decided: No way.

“That’s exactly what the Russians want,” said Dmytro Vasylkov, one of the organizers.

a city that already enjoyed a reputation for being cool, it gets easier to find a party. A hip-hop event the other night became a sea of bobbing heads. The party was held outdoors. For a spell, it started raining. But that didn’t matter. The party was on. On the dance floor, bodies were bumping.

Pink Freud, a bar, the war keeps coming up. Small talk between a young woman and Mr. Chehorka, the bartender, who also works as a psychotherapist, led to a conversation about hobbies that led to a discussion about books that led, inexorably, to the Russians.

Mr. Chehorka told the young woman that he was selling his large collection of Russian language books because he never wanted to read Russian again.

“This is my own war,” he explained.

He added that he felt the city’s whole psyche had changed. “Kyiv’s different now,” he said. “People are more polite, more friendly. They’re not drinking as hard.”

A yearning for close connection, for something meaningful amid a seismic, terrifying event that won’t end, is what brought two dozen people to a recent“cuddle” party.

Cuddle parties started before the war, but the people who came two Sundays ago — a mix of men and women from their early 20s to mid-60s — said they really needed them now.

The cuddlers gathered in a large, tent-like structure near the river, and as new age music played, they lied on floor cushions in a big warm heap. Some stroked their neighbor’s hair. Others clutched each other tightly, eyes closed, like it was the last embrace they’d ever share with anyone. After about 15 to 20 minutes, the heap stirred awake.

The cuddlers opened their eyes, untangled themselves, stood up and smoothed out their pants. The whole idea is to seek bodily comfort from curling up with a stranger. They found new cuddling partners and new positions.

The instructor was clear that none of this was supposed to be sexual or romantic. But still, it looked like a G-rated orgy.

This cuddling is another dimension of Kyiv’s party scene at the moment: Many social gatherings are specifically engineered to provide solace.

Maksym Yasnyi, a graphic designer, just held a 24-hour yoga party, which he said was “really cool” but it wasn’t like going out before the war.

“Before the war, Kyiv nightlife was sparkling with different colors,” he said. “You could spend the whole night going from party to party. If I allow myself to think about this, I’ll make myself really upset.”

Now, when it hits 10, Kyiv radiates a nervous energy. People drinking on the street, or out by the river, check their watches. They cap the clear plastic bottles of cider they were swigging, get up and walk quickly.

Cars move faster. More run yellow lights. The clock is ticking.

Uber prices triple, if you can find one.

Some young people, seeing the impossibility of hailing a ride, say bye to their friends and duck their heads and start running home, desperate to beat curfew.

At the stroke of 11, Kyiv stops. Nothing moves. The sidewalks lie empty.

All that energy that was building, building, building, suddenly plunges into a stunning, citywide hush.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Last Stand at Azovstal: Inside the Siege That Shaped the Ukraine War

Soldiers wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags, some missing arms and legs, were hoisted into the helicopters, whose rotors never stopped spinning. They lifted off with eight or nine wounded fighters that day, Flint said, some of whom were conscious enough to show off cellphone videos of the intense fighting they had endured.

The March 21 mission, captured on videos provided by Flint, lasted only 20 minutes on the ground. “There was just this feeling of happiness, emotional satisfaction that we were able to get these guys out,” Flint said.

In all, Operation Air Corridor, as the effort was known to participants, managed to land helicopters at Azovstal seven times during the next two weeks and rescue 85 gravely wounded soldiers, Flint said. A heavily sedated Sergeant Tsymbal was among those evacuated.

But the helicopters also brought in other soldiers, mostly volunteers, including Pvt. Nikita Zherdev of the Azov Regiment. His father had died in the shelling of Mariupol weeks earlier, and he wrote his sister before taking off telling her to learn to take care of herself. He did not tell her what he thought: that he did not expect to leave alive.

“As soon as we landed at Azovstal, I understood that, wow, things are really happening here,” he said. “Everything was covered in smoke. Everything was under fire. The people who greeted us, shouted, ‘Faster, faster, faster — there are airstrikes every five minutes, the jets are coming.’”

A native of Mariupol, Private Zherdev already knew the troops at Azovstal, but the men he found were withered specters of those soldiers, hungry and exhausted and covered in blood and gun oil after weeks of constant fighting. They were shocked to see him.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Russians Crowdsource Supplies for Their Army in Ukraine

Natalia Abiyeva is a real-estate agent specializing in rental apartments in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow. But lately, she has been learning a lot about battlefield medicine.

Packets of hemostatic granules, she found out, can stop catastrophic bleeding; decompression needles can relieve pressure in a punctured chest. At a military hospital, a wounded commander told her that a comrade died in his arms because there were no airway tubes available to keep him breathing.

Ms. Abiyeva, 37, has decided to take matters into her own hands. On Wednesday, she and two friends set out in a van for the Ukrainian border for the seventh time since the war began in February, bringing onions, potatoes, two-way radios, binoculars, first-aid gear and even a mobile dentistry set. Since the start of the war, she said, she has raised more than $60,000 to buy food, clothes and equipment for Russian soldiers serving in Ukraine.

“The whole world, it seems to me, is supporting our great enemies,” Ms. Abiyeva said in a phone interview. “We also want to offer our support, to say, ‘Guys, we’re with you.’”

Russia, grass-roots movements, led in large part by women, have sprung up to crowdsource aid for Russian soldiers. They are evidence of some public backing for President Vladimir V. Putin’s war effort — but also of the growing recognition among Russians that their military, vaunted before the invasion as a world-class fighting force, turned out to be woefully underprepared for a major conflict.

care packages familiar to Americans from the Iraq war. The most sought-after items include imported drones and night vision scopes, a sign that Russia’s $66 billion defense budget has not managed to produce essential gear for modern warfare.

“No one expected there to be such a war,” Tatyana Plotnikova, a business owner in the city of Novokuybyshevsk on the Volga, said in a phone interview. “I think no one was ready for this.”

155-millimeter shells fired by American howitzers, and that Russia’s leadership may have underestimated the determination of the West to support Ukraine.

“It’s not making the military operation go any faster from our point of view — it’s making our situation more difficult, I don’t deny it,” Mr. Borodai said, referring to Western weapons deliveries. “It’s possible that our military leaders were not ready for there to be such massive support on the part of the West.”

benefiting from a far more extensive crowdfunding campaign that is delivering millions of dollars’ worth of donations in items like drones, night vision scopes, rifles and consumer technology.

Most of the groups collecting donations for Russian soldiers appear to be operating independently of the Russian government. They mostly rely on volunteers’ personal contacts in individual units and at military hospitals who pass along lists of what they most urgently need.

segment in April about such volunteers explained, “but a mother’s heart has a will of its own.”

Outside state media, however, supporters of the war are pointing to private donations as a key to victory. Pro-Russian military bloggers, some of them embedded with Russian troops, are urging their followers to donate money to buy night vision equipment and basic drones.

“Our guys are dying because they lack this equipment,” one blogger wrote, while “the entire West is supplying the Ukrainian side.”

The needed equipment, largely imported, can be bought at Russian sporting goods stores or ordered online. Starshe Eddy, a popular military blogger, wrote that consumer drones made by the giant Chinese company DJI “have become so firmly entrenched in combat operations that it’s become hard to imagine the war without them.”

says the item “makes seeing — and ranging — deer out to 600 yards a reality.”

wrote, adding a winking emoji and a heart emoji.

Ms. Abiyeva says she started crowdsourcing aid after her husband, a captain, was deployed to Ukraine and she felt “powerless” to affect the course of events. She visited the hospital attached to her husband’s local military base and got the contact information for surgeons deployed to the war. Ever since, they have sent requests to her directly and passed her contacts along to colleagues.

When one surgeon at a field hospital asked for arterial embolectomy catheters, for treating clogs in arteries, Ms. Abiyeva found another volunteer in St. Petersburg to make the 700-mile trip to deliver 10 of them immediately. Ms. Abiyeva said that when she met the surgeon on her own trip to the region a week later, he told her that six of the catheters had already been used.

“It’s possible that we saved six lives,” she said.

The Russian military’s apparently urgent need for essential medical equipment and basic, foreign-made consumer devices has led some Russians to wonder how the Kremlin has been spending its enormous military budget, more than 3 percent of the country’s total economic output. On the VKontakte page of Zhanna Slobozhan, a coordinator of donations in the border city of Belgorod, a woman wrote that talk of raising money for drones and gun sights “makes me think that the army is totally being abandoned to the mercy of fate.”

“Let’s make sure that at least we won’t abandon our guys,” Ms. Slobozhan wrote back. She did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Putin visited a military hospital on Wednesday for the first time since the war began. He later told officials that while the doctors he met had assured him that “they have all they need,” the government should “promptly, quickly and effectively respond to any needs” in military medicine.

documentary about soldiers’ mothers released last weekend by the Russian journalist Katerina Gordeyeva, seen some three million times on YouTube, one woman describes her son using a wire to reattach soles to his boots.

An association of retired Russian officers published an open letter on May 19 noting that the public was raising funds for equipment the military sorely lacked “even though the government has plenty of money.” The letter excoriated Mr. Putin’s war effort as halfhearted, urging him to declare a state of war, with the aim of capturing all of Ukraine.

But on the ground, the concerns are more prosaic. With the approach of summer, Lyme disease-bearing ticks are out, and volunteers in Belgorod have been making homemade insect repellent, putting it into spray bottles and delivering it to the front.

A group of women collecting donations in the area learned that some of the Russian-backed separatist forces were so badly equipped that they were using shopping bags to carry their belongings. In their Telegram account with about 1,000 followers, the group put out an urgent call for backpacks, along with shoes, Q-tips, socks, headlamps, lighters, hats, sugar and batteries.

“This is so they understand that they are not alone,” said one of the coordinators of the Belgorod group, Vera Kusenko, 26, who works at a beauty salon as an eyelash extension specialist. “We hope this ends soon.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<