Melissa Harris-Perry: Welcome to The Takeaway. I'm Melissa Harris-Perry.
Russia first invaded Ukraine almost 15 months ago, in February of 2022. The Takeaway has kept a close eye on developments in the region, bringing you analysis from journalists covering the story on the ground in Ukraine, Russia, and across the globe. Now, we're taking one last look at the war on Ukraine instigated by Russia. With us now is Christopher Miller, Ukraine correspondent for The Financial Times. Christopher, thanks for being here.
Christopher Miller: Thank you for having me.
Melissa Harris-Perry: We began just with a little niceties, and I was asking you how you were feeling. You said that you were tired because?
Christopher Miller: Because Russia, once again, launched a massive missile strike on the Ukrainian capital here in Kyiv. Let's see, a little bit more than 3 million residents of Kyiv were awoken to the sounds of explosions, lights flashing in the sky. These were explosions, of course, caused by Ukraine's air defense firing on these missiles. Luckily, Ukrainian air defense forces shot down roughly a dozen of these missiles with debris falling over parts of the zoo here in Kyiv, actually, and in some residential areas, but not causing significant damage.
It was a really stressful, long, loud night. I and many other people here are a little bit tired. Because, like I said, this is not just the first attack, but one of many over the past couple of weeks.
Melissa Harris-Perry: After 15 months, it sounds as though war in this way still never becomes routine.
Christopher Miller: Yes. I think people have developed some little routines to deal with the war, but it still, I think, shocks people on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Some of these routines, for example, are if you wake up in the middle of the night to the sounds of explosions because Russian missiles or attack drones are coming in, you now have sleeping quarters that you've set up in the hallway, which allows you a little bit extra cover.
Ukrainians now talk about the rule of two walls, which means to try to get yourself behind two walls. The first being one that would take the impact, and the second being one that would take the shrapnel, thus saving you from being struck. Another little routine is running to the bomb shelter, maybe down several flights of stairs if you have one in your basement, if you're lucky enough to have one in your basement, or running across the street to the Kyiv Metro, which is several hundred feet below ground and doubles as a bomb shelter because it was built after World War II and people never thought that they would be using them again for that way.
These are some of the routines that we've got. I would say, lastly, just that another one was one that I experienced this morning, which is friends and family reaching out to make sure that you're okay. That these missiles didn't strike and destroy your building, that you're still there. Because thousands of Ukrainians have been killed over the course of this now 15 months of full-scale war.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Is this likely to intensify in the course of the summer?
Christopher Miller: It seems so. I think it's likely to intensify for several reasons. One, Russia's goal to ultimately destroy Ukraine as a state and nation, and some would argue, to destroy Ukrainians as a people is not completed yet. It's expected that Vladimir Putin will continue to wage this war. Secondly, Ukraine wants to expel all Russian forces from its lands. It is preparing and has been preparing for several months now to launch a large-scale counter-offensive.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Take a quick break with us here. Christopher will be right back with more on the continuing war against Ukraine right after this. You're back with The Takeaway. I'm Melissa Harris-Perry, and still with me is Christopher Miller, Ukraine correspondent for The Financial Times. Christopher, as you're talking about the plans of Ukraine in the context of the summer, talk to me also about the role of the West in terms of providing necessary resources and weaponry. We know that the United Kingdom has recently pledged to provide missiles. What else is happening on that front?
Christopher Miller: These weapons that Western countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, have given Ukraine already, or have pledged to give Ukraine are going to be crucial for Ukraine to prosecute its war against Russia's invasion forces. Besides drones, we've seen Patriot air defense missiles. These are key to keeping the capital safe and a large reason why last night none of these hypersonic Russian missiles came crashing down on the city is because there are these really powerful American-made air defense systems.
It's been months now that Ukraine has been pleading with the West to provide these really powerful systems, but also armor for its infantry and its mechanized brigades, artillery, and artillery shells. Now, this is all very, very important because Ukraine has largely exhausted its Soviet-era weapons cache and seen a lot of its systems be destroyed or become inert from just overuse. Now it's really reliant on its Western partners to continue providing ammunition and weaponry to defend itself and to go on this counter-offensive.
One thing, we saw President Zelenskyy on this big European tour over the weekend, where he stopped first in Rome and Berlin, Paris, and then London. Along the way, gathering fresh pledges from all of these countries' leaders of new weaponry. Now, this is important because these are weapons that might not be used in this counter-offensive. I say that because logistically it might take some time for them to get here. These are pledges that show a lengthy commitment by the West.
This is ultimately what Ukraine wants, is trying to secure some type of long-term guarantee from its Western partners to continue supplying the country with weaponry. Not over the course of the next weeks or months, but possibly years because this is a war that could very likely drag on.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Talk to me, though, about what's happening with China and the special envoy to Ukraine and Russia.
Christopher Miller: China sat very quietly for several months, watching things play out. It's traditionally been much more closer of an ally to Russia than it certainly has of Ukraine and the West. We've seen President Xi Jinping meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. He has not come to Kyiv, but he did hold a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just in recent weeks. The United States has said that was a very important moment. Zelenskyy had been asking for months now to have a conversation with Xi. China has only recently inserted itself in the conversation in saying that it has some ideas about how to bring peace to Ukraine and clearly wanting to position itself as a potential peacemaker.
One hiccup is that the peace proposal that it has put forward benefits Moscow more than it would Ukraine. Noticeably absent from its proposal is any mention of Russia's invasion or that it was responsible for the invasion in the first place. Then, secondly, also that Russian forces are not to withdraw from Ukrainian territory, which, for Kyiv, any peace plan that doesn't involve that would be a non-starter.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Christopher Miller, thank you so much for joining us today and for joining us in the past here. Please do stay as safe as you can.
Christopher Miller: It was my pleasure. Thank you.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Christopher Miller is the Ukraine correspondent for The Financial Times and author of the forthcoming book The War Came to Us: Life and Death in Ukraine.
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