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Russia-Ukraine war: A weekly recap and look ahead (Aug. 15)

A priest prays for unidentified civilians killed by Russian troops in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11. Eleven unidentified bodies exhumed from a mass grave were buried in Bucha that day.
Efrem Lukatsky
A priest prays for unidentified civilians killed by Russian troops in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 11. Eleven unidentified bodies exhumed from a mass grave were buried in Bucha that day.

As the week begins, here's a roundup of key developments from the past week and a look ahead.

What to watch this week

The world follows as ships finally carry Ukrainian-grown food to global customers and destinations gripped by hunger, including in the Horn of Africa.

This week, Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region are expected to begin a criminal trial for captured foreigners, including men from the United Kingdom, Sweden and Croatia, accused of working as mercenaries, Interfax reported.

On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry holds its Moscow Conference on International Security.

NPR will also keep an eye out for developments in talks over a possible prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States.

What happened last week

Aug. 8: The U.S. Agency for International Development said it's providing $4.5 billion more in budgetary support for Ukraine's government. And the Pentagon announced an additional $1 billion in security assistance to the country.

Russia suspended weapons inspections under its START nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S., saying Western sanctions on travel made the checks on U.S. compliance impossible.

Aug. 9: Ukraine said nine Russian warplanes were destroyed at a Crimea air base. Satellite images showed several damaged fighter planes. Neither Ukraine or Russia officially divulged how it happened, but some U.S. media quoted unnamed Ukrainian officials as saying Ukraine did it.

President Biden signed the U.S. ratification measure approving NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.

And the State Department announced $89 million to help Ukraine clear landmines and unexploded ordnance.

Aug. 10: Annual inflation in Ukraine reached 22.2%, The Kyiv Independent reported, citing official figures for July.

Aug. 11: Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for more shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine. The United Nations Security Council met to discuss the situation, with calls from the heads of the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency to stop military action around the site and allow a mission to inspect it. The European Union and 42 countries issued a joint statement calling on Russia to remove its military forces from the facility.

Russia's government confirmed talks were underway for a possible prisoner exchange that could free U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner and fellow jailed American Paul Whelan. Lawyers for imprisoned WNBA star Griner said Monday they filed an appeal against her conviction and nine-year sentence on drug charges.

Aug. 12: Battles in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region continued, with Russian forces conducting ground attacks in different locations including around the city of Bakhmut, east of Siversk and northwest of the city of Donetsk, the think tank the Institute for the Study of War said.

Aug. 13: Ukrainian forces destroyed a bridge on a hydroelectric power dam in Russian-controlled territory in southern Ukraine's Kherson region, aiming to disrupt Russia's ability to resupply its military.

Aug. 14: A ship left the Ukrainian port of Yuzhne with grain bound for Africa as part of a World Food Programme initiative. The Lebanese-flagged Brave Commander is heading to Djibouti, from where the grain will be transferred to Ethiopia. It's one of more than two dozen ships reported to have left Ukraine in the past two weeks after Ukraine's grain exports had been mostly trapped in the country by the war.


Here's just how close the war in Ukraine has come to Europe's largest nuclear plant.

Who was behind the explosions in Crimea? Ukraine and Russia aren't saying.

Russia's war in Ukraine pushes Ukrainian steel production to the brink.

The Cold War to Brittney Griner: a new twist in U.S.-Russia prisoner swaps.

Latvia is growing its military as Russia becomes increasingly aggressive.

Russia's long played with U.S. racial politics. Brittney Griner is the latest example.

Special report

Russia's war in Ukraine is changing the world: See its ripple effects in all corners of the globe.

Earlier developments

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.

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