War in Ukraine, Two Years Later

Happy Friday! The European Commission announced plans Thursday to cut red tape on agricultural subsidies, and China reached an agreement with the San Diego Zoo to send two pandas back to the States. Does TMD get results or what?

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Israel’s war cabinet agreed on Thursday to send Israeli representatives to hostage negotiations expected to be held in Paris today, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opted against sending negotiators to a meeting in Cairo earlier this month. The decision came as U.S. officials have been pushing Israel to participate in the talks. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk on Thursday that the delegation would have a wider mandate for the talks, but the Israeli Defense Forces “will continue to expand its ground operation in Gaza.” 
  • Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, the chair of the House select committee on the Chinese Communist Party, led a bipartisan congressional delegation with four colleagues on the committee to Taiwan on Thursday. The group met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei and President-elect Lai Ching-te, who is currently vice president. “The United States, Democrats and Republicans, stands with Taiwan, for your freedom and for ours,” Gallagher said at a press conference. “For as Taiwan goes, so goes the world.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning reiterated yesterday China’s opposition to “official interaction between the U.S. and Taiwan authorities.”
  • The White House announced Thursday that new sanctions on Iran will be imposed “in the coming days” in response to existing Iranian support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. White House national security spokesman John Kirby referenced Iran’s reported move to send ballistic missiles to Russia, saying that, although the U.S. has “not seen any confirmation” the missiles have been transferred, “we have no reason to believe they will not follow through.” If the missiles are sent, Kirby said, the U.S. will impose additional sanctions. Also on Thursday, President Joe Biden met with Alexei Navalny’s widow and daughter in California, promising additional sanctions on Russia to be announced today. 
  • Tens of thousands of AT&T customers experienced cell phone outages beginning early Thursday morning and lasting into the afternoon. The company did not disclose what brought service down, but the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies are investigating. “AT&T has no reason to think this was a cybersecurity incident,” Kirby told reporters
  • The lunar lander Odysseus, built by Intuitive Machines of Houston, successfully landed on the moon Thursday night, the first time a U.S. craft has touched down on the moon’s surface in more than 50 years. “I know this was a nail-biter, but we are on the surface and we are transmitting,” said company CEO Steve Altemus, referencing a rough landing sequence that required an additional orbit. “Welcome to the moon.” Odysseus’ journey marks the first time a commercial craft has landed on the moon in U.S. history.

A Grim Anniversary

Two Ukrainian soldiers stand in a trench at the zero line south of the Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut. The top of the hill behind them marks the beginning of no man’s land. (Photo via Bennett Murray)

Most Ukrainians went to sleep the night of February 23, 2022, unaware that, by morning, their lives would be forever changed.

They awoke the following morning to the sound of Russian bombs hitting their cities—the beginning of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Two years on, Russia’s war has decimated much of the eastern part of the country, flattening once-vibrant cities, tearing families apart, and displacing millions of people. But the conflict hasn’t just permanently altered the lives of Ukrainians or changed the topography of their country: It’s affected the global geopolitical landscape as well, in ways that may endure past the war’s eventual end. 

There’s no doubt that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacted a staggering human toll. More than 6 million of Ukraine’s pre-war population of about 43 million people have fled the country, according to U.N. reports. Another 3 million are internally displaced. More than 10,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and roughly 20,000 more injured—with the first full month of the war, March 2022, accounting for more than 7,000 deaths or injuries. Among those March casualties were at least 458 civilians murdered in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv. Meticulous investigations of this massacre suggest a particular unit of Russian soldiers likely committed war crimes.

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