Mass graves, travel bans, Putin meets Xi — September 19: NPR

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Ukrainian soldiers stand over bags containing the remains of bodies exhumed at a mass grave site in Izium, Ukraine.

Claire Harbage/NPR


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Claire Harbage/NPR


Ukrainian soldiers stand over bags containing the remains of bodies exhumed at a mass grave site in Izium, Ukraine.

Claire Harbage/NPR

As the week begins, here’s a preview and roundup of the main developments from the past week.

What to watch this week

Russia’s war in Ukraine is the big topic of the UN General Assembly and a number of related events this week. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pre-recorded speech takes place on Wednesday, as does an in-person speech by President Biden. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not expected to attend or provide a video address, although his foreign minister will speak on Saturday.

Also on Wednesday, Ukraine’s attorney general is scheduled to testify at a U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on responsibility for atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine.

This week, Poland and the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia began banning most Russian travellers. There is pressure on the rest of the European Union to follow suit, but some members are resisting an outright ban.

what happened last week

September 12: The Kremlin admitted having withdrawn its troops but insisted that Russia get all its military objectives in Ukraine, in his first public comments after Ukrainian forces recaptured large areas of the northeastern region of Kharkiv. Ukraine now controls key cities, including Izium.

The International Atomic Energy Agency announced the restoration a second emergency power line at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia. This allowed the operator to keep one line in reserve while the other provided external power for cooling and other essential safety functions during shutdown.

Famous Ukrainian ballet dancer, Oleksandr Shapoval, was killed by mortar fire. The 47-year-old had retired from the National Opera of Ukraine and was a university professor when Russia invaded Ukraine this year, and he volunteered to help fight to defend his country.

September 13: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks by telephone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The The German leader pressed Putin end the war, withdraw Russian troops and secure the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to the chancellor’s office. Putin spoke of the need to unlock Russian exports like food and fertilizers, according to the Kremlin.

September 14: Russian cruise missiles hit the Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, damaging a dam and causing flooding. Kryvyi Rih is the birthplace of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres spoke with Putin about Ukrainian grain exports, later tell reporters: “We are far from the end of the war.”

September 15: Putin declared that the Chinese leader Xi Jinping had questions and concerns on the situation in Ukraine but said he appreciated Beijing’s “balanced stance” on the issue, as the pair met in Uzbekistan.

The State Department imposed new sanctions “on key figures installed by Russia in Ukrainian territories currently controlled by the Russian military, and on 31 defence, technology and electronics entities, to further constrain Russia’s advanced technology industries and their contribution to Russia’s defense industrial base”.

September 16: Ukrainian authorities found a mass burial site near a forest outside of Iziumone of the northeastern towns that Ukraine recaptured from Russian forces earlier this month.

The United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of the authorization of Ukrainian President Zelensky submit a pre-recorded speech for the meeting the following week. The countries that voted “no” are Belarus, Cuba, Eritrea, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia and Syria.

The German government has taken over the local subsidiaries of the Russian oil company Rosneft at securing energy supplies disturbed by the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The government has placed Rosneft’s German operations – which provide 12% of Germany’s oil refining capacity – under federal supervision.

September 17: Representative of Pope Francis in Ukraine, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, came under fire while delivering humanitarian aid near the city of Zaporizhzhia. He was not injured.

The Czech Republic, current President of the Council of the EU, demanded an international court after Ukraine said it found evidence that civilians were tortured in Izium.

Russia uses Iranian-made drones to cause severe damage in Ukraineas The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Ukrainian commanders.

September 18: Alla Pugacheva, Russia’s beloved pop singer expressed himself against war. In an Instagram post, she said she stood in solidarity with her husband, comedian Maxim Galkin, who she said “wants to end the death of our boys for delusional purposes.” She said the Justice Department should add her to the same “foreign agent” list it put Galkin’s name on.

In depth

Outside a liberated Ukrainian town, detectives search for evidence of war crimes.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be the main topic of the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

For older Ukrainians in frontline cities, visits from social workers bring comfort.

Their city now liberated from Russian occupation, the Ukrainians feel shock and joy.

What to know about Xi Jinping’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, as war in Ukraine threatens.

Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear reactors will not restart until the Russians leave, according to its operator.

How freaked out should we be about Ukraine’s nuclear power plant?

Russia insists it is working towards goals in Ukraine even after the troop withdrawal.

A former national security official explores what could be the next stage of the war in Ukraine.

Special report

Russia’s war in Ukraine is changing the world: see its ripple effects around the globe.

Previous developments

You can read past recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more NPR coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR Ukrainian state podcast for updates throughout the day.



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