Julius Strauss

Julius Strauss is the Telegraph's former Moscow bureau chief. He has reported on conflicts in Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Should Ukrainians stop speaking Russian?

A young woman called Lyudmila walks into a cafe in Odessa, the southern Ukrainian city. Her phone is switched on and the camera set to record mode. She approaches the owner and asks for service in Ukrainian. He declines. He says his Ukrainian language skills are poor. When she insists he makes excuses, then tells

The bodies keep the score in Lviv

Lviv, Ukraine At the Lychakiv cemetery in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv the bodies keep the score. Within its confines the more than 300,000 graves offer a tangled insight into the labyrinthine history of this eastern European city that even now goes by four different names. There are Polish generals, mathematicians and philosophers; Ukrainian

Collecting the dead in Ukraine

Dovhenke, Ukraine The Russian soldier lay where he had fallen. His plastic combat belt and flak jacket were still intact, but his legs were splayed at an unnatural angle, and where his face and scalp had once been there was now only a skull with dark stains on it.   ‘The guys who died protecting our

In Orikhiv, war has a rhythm

On the road to the frontline Andrii, 36, managed to coax the tired old British ambulance up to 80mph.  The tarmac ahead was scarred with the impact of artillery shells and some of the holes were big enough to pitch us off the road, but he navigated around them skillfully. Suddenly, far in front of

The looming battle for Chasiv Yar

In the eastern Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar, seven-year-old Symon was clinging to a chocolate bar and a packet of biscuits he had just been given by an aid worker. With the sound of each new shell landing – and they were coming every few seconds – his small body shook and shivered in sympathetic

My Transylvanian horror

My first taste of proper street violence came in a Transylvanian town square 30 years ago. Ethnic Romanian and Hungarian villagers were going at each other with pitchforks, knives and strips of wood they had ripped from park benches. In an attempt to separate the two sides, the Romanian army had driven half a dozen

The night train to Kyiv

After several months in the UK, the lady sleeping on the opposite bunk on the night train to Kyiv told me she had had enough. Welcomed under the Homes for Ukraine scheme into a small English village, she had watched as the thermostat in the house was turned down and then turned down again. ‘Finally

Bucha and the dark echoes of Srebrenica

High on a hillside not far from the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica the remains of dozens of young Muslim men had been left to rot. By the time I found them most of the flesh had been eaten away by forest scavengers – bears, wolves, foxes and even stray dogs – but the skeletons

Russian cruelty has been laid bare

It was 2 a.m. when Russian gunmen broke in and took away 21-year-old Milana Ozdoyeva. When Sara, her three-year-old daughter, tried to grab her mother’s hand they shoved her aside. Milana’s son, who was 11 months old, just stared uncomprehendingly. ‘They were wearing masks and camouflage,’ Milana’s mother told me. ‘They forced us all to

Has Putin finally handed over control to his generals?

Russia has signalled that, a month into a war that it expected to take a few days, it would begin scaling back its military activities around the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Moscow’s deputy defence minister, Alexander Fomin, said that the move was designed to increase mutual trust between Russia and Ukraine. The real reason, if indeed

The terrifying prospect of Putin escalating the war

Battered Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second most populous city, is showing no signs of falling. The column of Russian tanks outside Kiev has gone to ground. The capital itself seems to be off Moscow’s menu entirely, at least for now. In Russia FSB chiefs are reported to be under house arrest. The economy is in freefall. There

Putin and the Muslim world

Several thousand Muslim Chechen fighters are reportedly massing on the edge of Kiev. Syrian volunteers, filmed this week holding assault rifles and chanting pro-Moscow slogans, are en route to the Ukrainian frontlines. Is Vladimir Putin running out of Christians for his war machine? The number of Russian battlefield casualties has certainly been high. Up to 7,000

Ukrainians fear Chechen fighters. Russian soldiers hate them

Residents fleeing the Kiev suburb of Bucha reported Chechens machine-gunning cars, even those with the word ‘children’ written in their windscreens. The arrival of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who claims to lead a force of 10,000 of his countrymen, will have unnerved Ukrainian volunteers defending their city. When the Chechens intervened in eastern Ukraine in

Putin is bored

At the beginning of this year, Vladimir Putin was sitting comfortably in the Kremlin: his legacy so far a steady leader who had saved his people from the helter-skelter of robber capitalism in the 1990s and given them a modicum of stability and pride. He must have known that if he waged war on a

Putin’s next move

Budapest Russian troops, many apparently without insignia, began advancing into the disputed Donbas region yesterday. The question now is how much further they will go. The Donbas rebels claim an area three times the size of the territory they currently hold, which is roughly equivalent to the area of Devon. If Moscow were to try

Letter from Odessa: life on the front line of a new Cold War

‘God Save the Queen’ trended on Ukrainian social media over the weekend. ‘As a Brit in Kiev I have never felt so popular,’ one expat tweeted. Four hundred miles to the south, however, on the once grand, now shabby streets of Odessa, the enthusiasms of the Twittersphere seem remote. There is little optimism that Britain,