Ukraine update: Refugees top 4.5 million; Russian crimes provoke NATO into broader weapons transfers

Ukraine update: Refugees top 4.5 million; Russian crimes provoke NATO into broader weapons transfers

The number of refugees who have fled Ukraine after Russia’s invasion has now topped 4.5 million, according to the United Nations, and is expected to grow even more as Ukrainian officials to advise civilians in Luhansk and Donetsk to leave those regions before new Russian attacks.

Getting out, however, remains dangerous. The death toll from a Russian missile strike on a Kramatorsk train platform crowded with evacuating civilians has now risen to 57. That attack has been condemned unequivocally as a war crime; Russian commanders can provide no possible military justification for launching missiles against civilian passenger stations unless their “military” orders include a land-clearing genocide.

Russia’s use of war crimes as alleged military tactics appear to have been the tipping point for NATO nations, which have become increasingly willing to provide the sort of hard-hitting offensive weapons that the coalition had previously been refusing. The United Kingdom is now said to be providing new armored vehicles and possibly anti-ship missiles, though almost certainly not the Harpoon missiles that Ukraine lacks launch capabilities for. Poland is delivering T-72 tanks. Lithuania will reportedly be training Ukrainian troops on the use of Western-produced gear, while the U.S. military is now publicly highlighting their efforts to train Ukrainian soldiers being provided with new Switchblade drones. Top U.S. military leaders have also been discussing new weapons transfers requested by Ukraine.

Ukraine’s success in repelling the attacks on Kyiv, coupled with the subsequent documentation of widespread war crimes in the places where Russian soldiers briefly took control of, may yet prove the turning point of the war. It shocked western nations into providing heavier gear after weeks of waffling—but it also likely demonstrated to western leaders who feared “provoking” Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin that any such weapons transfers would not be in vain. Ukraine’s defenders have proven themselves; now international pressure is not over whether to provide the nation with more firepower, but how to most rapidly deliver it.

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