As the week begins, here’s a roundup of key developments from the past week and a look ahead.
What to watch this week
Wednesday is Ukraine’s Independence Day, marking 31 years since its declaration of independence from Soviet rule. Authorities have banned public celebrations in Kyiv and warned against gatherings around the country because of the risk of Russian attacks.
Wednesday also marks six months since the start of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
A trial for captured Ukrainian fighters is expected to begin in Russian-occupied Mariupol, possibly as soon as Wednesday.
And on Thursday, the Cluster Munition Monitor 2022 report will be released, which will include research about cluster munitions and land mine usage in the Russia-Ukraine war.
What happened last week
August 15: United Nations human rights workers documented 5,514 civilians killed and 7,698 injured in Ukraine since the war began in February, but said the current figure is considerably higher as intense fighting delays reporting and corroboration. On the day of the UN update, several more civilians were reported killed and wounded in Ukraine.
A Russian-backed separatist court in Donetsk charged men from the United Kingdom, Sweden and Croatia with working as mercenaries for Ukraine. All five men pleaded not guilty, Russia’s Tass news agency reported, and three of them could face the death penalty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow is ready to offer advanced weapons to Russia’s partners in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
August 16: Explosions rocked Crimea, hitting an ammunition depot, an airfield, a power station and also causing damage to the railway on the Russian-annexed peninsula. Russia’s Defense Ministry called the blasts acts of sabotage. Ukraine did not take credit, but military analysts said the incidents are likely part of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Later in the week, Russian officials reported attempted drone attacks in Crimea.
Ukraine’s Parliament extended martial law for three more months.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, were in Ukraine. They met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and visited the town of Bucha, outside Kyiv, the site of mass civilian killings during the Russian invasion.
August 17: China announced it will send troops to Russia to participate in joint military exercises alongside the armed forces of India, Belarus and other countries. Russia plans to hold the Vostok-2022 drills from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.
Burial ceremonies continued for victims of Bucha. Local authorities said 21 unidentified victims were buried on this day, with numbers instead of names used to label their tombs.
August 18: President Zelenskyy hosted the head of the UN and president of Turkey, discussing issues including the embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the deaths of war prisoners. UN Secretary-General António Guterres heralded a deal struck in July to resume Ukraine’s grain exports as a “victory for diplomacy” and said 560,000 metric tons of grain and other food have so far departed the country.
Russia launched a barrage of rockets into the city of Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukrainekilling at least 17 civilians and destroying homes and a dormitory for deaf people.
Starbucks’ former flagship coffee shop in Moscow reopened under new ownership and a new but similar brand: Stars Coffee. The Russian co-owners are restaurateur Anton Pinskiy and rapper Timati. The Seattle-based company announced its exit from Russia in May, citing the country’s “horrific attacks on Ukraine.”
August 19: French President Emmanuel Macron had a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Macron’s office said Putin agreed to allow an international mission of experts to assess reported damage at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine.
The US is sending weapons, valued at $775 million, to help Ukraine fight Russian forces in the southern part of the country that’s become the main battleground, the Defense Department said. The latest package includes drones, anti-mine vehicles and anti-tank missiles.
August 20: Daria Dugina, daughter of influential Russian nationalist theorist Alexander Dugin, was killed in a car bombing on the outskirts of Moscow. Dugin’s allies and Russian media suggested he was the intended target. Russian authorities blamed Ukrainian agents for the killing; Ukraine’s government denied any role in the incident.
Ukraine installed in mock-parade of bombed-out Russian tanks and other military hardware on the street in Kyiv.
August 21: Russian forces pounded Nikopol, a southern Ukrainian town near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and hit sites near Ukraine’s port of Odesa. Yet according to the US think tank the Institute for the Study of War, Russian has continually failed to turn small tactical gains into operational successes.
President Biden spoke to the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom about supporting Ukraine and the concerning situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest nuclear station, in a Russian-controlled area of southern Ukraine.
Across the river from a Russian-occupied nuclear plant, a Ukrainian town fears a spill.
Ukraine’s first lady posed for Vogue and sparked discussion on how to #SitLikeAGirl.
The head of the WNBA players union talks about Brittney Griner’s ongoing detention.
Humanitarian groups prepare to send winter aid to Ukrainians.
Examining the security of the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Demand for coal in Europe is rising amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ambulance crews, many of them volunteers, put their lives on the line.
Ukraine’s rail system is working overtime to keep people and goods moving.
Unable to leave the country, Ukrainian men worry about military drafts.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is changing the world: See its ripple effects in all corners of the globe.
You can read past recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more of NPR’s coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR’s State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.