Svitlana Morenets

Svitlana Morenets

Svitlana Morenets is a Ukrainian journalist and a staff writer at The Spectator. She was named Young Journalist of the Year in the 2024 UK Press Awards. Subscribe to her free weekly email, Ukraine in Focus, here

The last hours of the Russian occupation of Kherson

The only large Ukrainian city Russia has been able to capture since February’s invasion – Kherson – has now been liberated. But something else extraordinary happened: Russian reports emerged of thousands of troops being left on the right bank of the Dnipro river after the occupiers blew up the mile-long Antonivsky bridge. Moscow flatly denies this, saying:

How Russia is surrendering Kherson

The Russian evacuation of Kherson is now well underway, leaving an expected trail of destruction in its wake. Russian soldiers are publishing bitter videos as they retreat, with one saying that ‘defending the city with these supplies would be complete madness’ and another adding ‘I hope we will return’. Local reports say fleeing Russians are

Why Russia pulled out of Kherson

In one of the biggest developments of the Ukraine war, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has just announced the evacuation of his troops from Kherson. The city, located on the western bank of the Dnipro river, is the capital of one of the ‘oblasts’ (or regions) that Vladimir Putin recently declared to be part of Russia. Kherson

How Turkey and Ukraine called Putin’s grain deal bluff

Earlier this week, Vladimir Putin declared an end to the deal allowing Ukraine to export its grain to the world. This threatened to send prices surging, with a potentially devastating impact on world hunger. But his bluff was called. Turkey, Ukraine and the UN held talks and continued a deal without Russia – and three

Ukraine braces itself for Russia’s cold war

So far this week, 128 Russian missiles have been fired at Ukraine. Half were intercepted by air defences, according to figures from Ukrainian authorities, but all too many of the others hit their target: power stations. This is a new phase in war, an anti-humanitarian campaign to cut supplies of water, electricity and leave the

Putin’s blitz marks the next phase in Ukraine’s war

Since the attack on the Kerch bridge in Crimea, the world has been awaiting Putin’s answer. It came this morning in the form of Russian missiles fired over Ukrainian cities. To add to this, Belarusian media is also reporting the deployment of Belarusian troops to the conflict for the first time. Of the 83 Russian

What Elon Musk doesn’t get about peace

The power one person can hold should never be underestimated. They can take people’s lives, as Vladimir Putin does, or save them as Elon Musk did in Ukraine. Two days after Putin’s invasion, Ukraine’s minister for digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, tagged Musk on Twitter and asked him to help Kyiv with Starlink. The communication centres

Will Nato accept Ukraine?

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky made an offer to Vladimir Putin. Ukraine would drop its ambition to join Nato and would instead stay neutral, he said. It would not align with the West, in exchange for an end to hostilities. It was a sincere offer, and unpopular with Ukrainians. Yet it was significant: Putin had

Putin calls up 300,000 reservists

While most attention has focused on Vladimir Putin’s repetition of nuclear threats in his speech this morning, the takeaway in Ukraine is different: conscription has begun. This is deeply controversial in Russia given the war’s high mortality rate, but after the rout in the Kharkiv region Putin is running out of options. After his speech,

Ukrainian nuclear power plant shelled by Russia

If Putin is losing the ground war in Ukraine and running out of troops, what other options does he have? The obvious fear is that he’d use nuclear weapons or attack Ukraine’s nuclear power stations. Last night, the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Mykolaiv oblast, 300 km (200 miles) south from Kyiv, was struck, with

The horrors of Russian occupation are being uncovered in Ukraine

Ukraine is racing to establish control over the newly-liberated Kharkiv region. The country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky paid a surprise visit to the city of Izyum, until recently a strategic point for Russia’s occupation reinforcements (photos here). ‘We are moving in only one direction – forward and towards victory’, he said after the Ukrainian flag was raised in

This could be a turning point in the war

There is extraordinary news from Ukraine this weekend. An offensive in Kharkiv region, bordering Russia on the northwest, has stunned Russia – which had been moving troops south to defend against Ukraine’s Kherson offensive. Kharkiv region has been left only lightly defended by Russia: Moscow had assumed that Ukraine didn’t have the military strength to open

What’s on Ukraine’s new school syllabus

For the first time since Russia’s invasion, schools in Ukraine are starting to re-open. For many parents, including my own, this presents a dilemma. Is it safe for pupils to return? My brother is seven and has spent the past year doing ‘remote learning’, which is hard enough in countries at peace, let alone those

Can Zelensky afford to freeze Ukraine’s gas prices?

This morning, Volodymyr Zelensky signed a moratorium on energy prices – so while gas bills are rising all over Europe, Ukraine will remain unaffected. This honours a pledge he made on his election. Freezing energy bills is a standard populist policy in Ukrainian politics (in a country where temperatures can reach -25ºC and the elderly

Is it fair for the West to ban Russians?

To start with, Volodymyr Zelensky was careful not to blame Russians for a war Vladimir Putin started. Appealing to them and speaking in his native Russian, he asked: ‘Do the Russians want war?’ He called on them to rise up to make Putin listen. But this did not happen. Zelensky appears to have decided that

Ukrainians aren’t surprised by Amnesty’s victim-blaming

Is Amnesty International victim-blaming? The Ukrainian military has been endangering civilians, it said, by establishing military bases and putting weapons systems in residential areas. Agnès Callamard, the organisation’s secretary-general, remarked that ‘being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law’. It was a bizarre statement. Russian forces are

Ukraine and Russia sign grain deal – what next?

This afternoon Kyiv and Moscow signed a UN-backed agreement to free up at least 20 million tons of grain from blocked ports. Ukraine said it would not sign a deal with Russia directly, only with Turkey and the UN. As Wolfgang Münchau noted this morning, it marks the first successful mediation between the two sides

How Justin Trudeau caved to Putin

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the West was certain that its sanctions were worth the pain. But there always was a question as to whether this resolve would last once the domestic difficulties actually started. This week, western countries moved closer to admitting it might be too much to bear. At the time of the invasion

Ukrainians are in mourning for Boris

Boris Johnson’s support for Ukraine looked like a gimmick for many in Britain. Whenever the PM was in trouble, he called president Zelensky. When things got too much in Westminster, Boris popped up in Kyiv. But for Ukrainians, Boris’s backing of Ukraine is no joke: he is a national hero. He is the most popular