What happened this week in the Russian-Ukrainian war? Find the essential news and analyzes | Ukraine

Each week, we round up the must-read for our coverage of the war in Ukraine, from news and features to analysis, visual guides and opinion.

Signs of shifting Russian war aims

Russia’s foreign minister said in televised remarks on Wednesday that Moscow’s military “tasks” now extend beyond the eastern Donbass region to permanently occupy large swaths of southern Ukraine. Sergey Lavrov said Russia could seek more territory along the front lines in Ukraine, calling it a buffer against long-range Himars rocket artillery supplied by the United States.

The Guardian correspondent in Moscow, Andre Rothsaid Lavrov’s comments were the clearest signal that the Kremlin was preparing to launch a new round of annexations.

“Now the geography is different,” Lavrov said, in a change of rhetoric from the Russian government. “It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and a number of other territories. And it is a continuous, consistent and insistent process.

Ukraine is now seeking to establish a single court to try key members of the Russian regime for the act of aggression, which could see it issue an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine and Russia agree to revive grain exports

Ukraine and Russia have signed a UN-backed deal to allow millions of tonnes of grain to be exported from blocked Black Sea ports, potentially averting the threat of a catastrophic global food crisis.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a signing ceremony on Friday that the deal would pave the way for significant volumes of food exports from Ukraine and ease a food and economic crisis in the world. in development. He said “there was a glimmer of hope in the Black Sea” and called on Russia and Ukraine to fully implement the deal.

In Kyiv, Russia’s intentions are met with deep skepticism, but Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Ukraine trusted the UN and Turkey – a key player in the negotiations – to control the agreement. Joanna Partridge looks at the challenges ahead of moving millions of tons of grain out of blocked ports.

Wheat grains in a storage facility in Odessa. The UN-backed deal aims to secure the passage of grain and essential products such as sunflower oil from three Ukrainian ports, including Odessa. Photograph: Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian held hostage by Russia says he cleaned torture chambers

Vladislav Buryak, a 16-year-old Ukrainian boy, was separated from his family on April 8 at a checkpoint as he tried to flee the town of Melitopol. For 90 days he was held hostage by Russian soldiers and forced to clean interrogation rooms as he heard other prisoners being tortured in a nearby cell, he said. Pierre Beaumont.

“There were bloodstains and soaked bandages. I could also hear the questions, at least three times a week. “Do you have any weapons? Who else has guns? They were screaming and the tortured people were screaming very loudly,” Vladislav said.

“People were beaten and tortured with electric shocks. If anyone said nothing, the torture continued, sometimes for several hours.

The teenager was released after a months-long negotiation between his father, Oleg – a local Ukrainian official – and Russian soldiers, who wanted to exchange Vladislav for someone of interest to the Russian military.

Vladislav Buryak and his father, Oleg
Vladislav Buryak (right) with his father, Oleg. Photography: Oleg Buryak

Separatists increase forced conscription as casualties mount

Pro-Russian separatist forces have intensified the forced conscription of men – including Ukrainian passport holders – in occupied areas of Donbass, Pierre-Beaumont and Artem Mazhoulin report.

“Since February 24, we have seen men being arrested in the street, having their passports taken and forcibly sent to the army,” said Oleksandra Matviichuk, human rights activist with the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine.

Matviichuk read a letter she received from a man from the Luhansk region who had hidden in his apartment to avoid forced conscription. “He says, ‘How can I hold Russia accountable in court? It is a violation of my rights. Since February I can no longer go out in the street because there are patrollers in my city who are looking for men without exception. They hunt us like stray cats. The Chechen [fighters] help them find men on the list.

“They came to destroy us”: Ukrainians in Donbass join the fight

In Bakhmut, a frontline town in the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region, Viktor Shulik, a former headmaster, and his 23-year-old son Denys Shulik, who taught physical education at the same school, stand at the shadow of a tree carrying guns. They had just marched four kilometers through the wheat fields from their positions on the front lines.

“War is not new to us, but it is the war of wars,” said Viktor Isobel Koshib. “People need to understand that they came here to destroy us. It is a cycle of history.

“We don’t have an apartment now, our building was burned down by a missile, so we are now homeless. We no longer have the school because it was bombed and therefore we no longer have a workplace. We took up arms because, well, what else can we do?

Over the past eight years, he said, he and others like him have seen the lives of people in Russian-occupied Donbass deteriorate dramatically, and he would do whatever he could to prevent more of the region falls under occupation.

Russia declared capturing Donbass one of its priorities and slowly bombarded and then captured towns. He now owns about 75% of the region.

Viktor Shulik and his son Denys in Sloviansk, Ukraine
Viktor Shulik and his son Denys in Sloviansk, Ukraine. “They came here to destroy us,” Shulik says of the Russian forces. Photograph: Anastasia Vlasova/The Guardian

‘Russia stole our history’: Ukraine’s uphill struggle to keep the truth alive

For people like Taras Pshenychnyi, vice-dean of the history department at the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, another, more subtle battle is taking place far from the artillery exchanges on the front lines.

It’s a bitter memory war between two versions of Ukraine’s past and its relationship with Russia, which Ukraine was a part of for centuries until it gained independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.

On the one hand, a version of the story promoted by Vladimir Putin, who argued that Ukraine has no experience of a “real state” outside the USSR and that by seeking to abandon its Soviet heritage, it has delegitimized itself.

Taras Pshenychnyi with a bronze relief of Mihailo Hrushevsky, the founding father of modern Ukrainian history
Taras Pshenychnyi with a bronze relief of Mihailo Hrushevsky, the founding father of modern Ukrainian history. Photography: Peter Beaumont/The Observer

The version of the Russian president considers Ukraine not to be a country in its own right and Ukrainian not to be a real language; rather, it is a place to be fought over, dominated, and periodically plundered.

“Russia uses history as a weapon”, says Pshenychnyi Pierre-Beaumont in Kyiv. “He already did. This is why the conflict is happening now: because Russia has stolen and misinterpreted Ukraine’s history.

Valery Galan, founder of the Ukrainian State Establishment Museum, says he hopes “after this horrible attack people will open their eyes”.

“Museums are weapons against false history. History is not like a gun that is fired once. It’s a gun that lasts for decades.