The Wagner paramilitary group’s brief mutiny in Russia and the fallout from it has eclipsed attention on the war in Ukraine over the past few days. The war slogs on in the meantime: Russian soldiers kill or wound as many as thousands of Ukrainian troops a week, adding to the invasion’s toll.
My colleagues Yousur Al-Hlou, Masha Froliak and Ben Laffin published a striking video today from the front lines, following Ukrainian combat medics. Before the war, they were civilian doctors and nurses. Now, they treat their wounded countrymen while trying to protect themselves from artillery fire and rocket attacks. I urge you to watch the video, which changed how I look at the sacrifice Ukrainians have been forced to make.
I spoke to Yousur and Masha about their experience following these medics for a week.
German: What is the mood among Ukrainian medics, more than a year into the war?
Masha: They compared the grinding workload to the film “Groundhog Day,” reliving the same day over and over and losing sense of whether it’s day or night. They have been living in that hospital, as well as working there. They’re tired. They don’t have a sense of when this is going to end.
What they say in the video has an existential sense to it. They seem motivated to keep going because they feel their country needs them.
Yousur: They’re not just defending their country. They’re defending their families’ lives and their own lives. It’s a very personal struggle. It’s a very personal motivation — a very personal risk.
One of the doctors asks: “How could I not take this on? How could I not be at this frontline hospital? How can I not risk my life if it’s in service of protecting my family and protecting my country?” They acknowledge they have fatigue. They acknowledge that they have doubts about when this conflict might end. But they also have this relentless motivation.
Masha: One doctor said these young soldiers were the same age as her child. She spoke about imagining it’s her child in the operating room — and she just wants to hug and protect them all.
It seems like an important point: As tired as they may be, these doctors are not giving up on the war.
Yousur: That’s right. These doctors were not shy about voicing the toll the war is having on them. But it doesn’t negate their motivation and their hatred toward the enemy — feelings they also expressed openly. These feelings live in parallel.
What were their lives like before the invasion?
Yousur: They were anesthesiologists, surgeons, nurses and so on at civilian hospitals. They were wearing white coats. When the invasion began last year, their lives changed drastically.
It is a nearly universal aspect of the war. Once it began, a lot of civilians suddenly found themselves in service of their country. People volunteered to stitch camouflage nets for soldiers. Grandmothers made Molotov cocktails. Similarly, these doctors began working practically overnight in a frontline military hospital having to tend to the wounded amid rocket fire.
Watch the video, which includes one scene in which the combat medics confront the task of treating a Russian prisoner of war — and not all of them feel comfortable helping someone they view as the enemy.
More on the war
Vladimir Putin is planning to punish those who enabled Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion, but the Wagner leader’s deep ties to the Moscow elite are making that difficult.
Sergei Surovikin, the general said to have known about the revolt in advance, has not been seen publicly since early Saturday.
An unlikely obstacle has slowed Ukraine’s counteroffensive: flat, open fields. These illustrations and maps show why the terrain makes advancing so difficult.
President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus may have brokered the deal between Putin and Wagner’s leader, but he still cuts a pathetic figure as a Russian pawn, Thomas Graham writes for Times Opinion.
THE LATEST NEWS
A blanket of wildfire smoke spread across the Midwest, keeping millions of Americans indoors.
The smoke is returning to the East Coast today. Track its path.
This is the air quality status across the country. Chicago and Pittsburgh have it worst.
President Biden is making a push to promote the improving U.S. economy, hoping to turn around public pessimism that could hurt his re-election campaign.
Rudy Giuliani, who served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was interviewed by federal prosecutors investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, has a large lead in his race for a seat on New York’s City Council.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is using his name, a libertarian bent and support from the tech world to gain a 2024 foothold.
The Chinese spy balloon was loaded with American-made technology that helped collect photos and videos, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal.
China wants to export its way out of a slump, sending more solar panels and electric vehicles abroad. That could upset its trade partners.
Scientists have long explored how three things interacting can create chaos. As China joins a three-way nuclear standoff, experts see growing risks of war.
TikTok acknowledged funding a case by five creators against Montana’s ban on the platform.
Facial recognition is spreading in Britain. Stores use it to try to stop shoplifters, and the police to identify wanted criminals on the street.
New tools claim they can spot A.I.-generated images. The Times tested five.
Other Big Stories
A deep-sea crew brought debris and presumed human remains from the Titan submersible back to land.
Violent protests rocked French cities overnight after the police shot a 17-year-old driver.
More than 100,000 people are in New York City’s homeless shelters, a record for the city.
Astronomers have detected a low-pitched hum of gravitational waves echoing across the universe, probably from the merging of massive black holes.
Airlines are canceling or delaying flights in the Northeast. Here’s what to expect if you’re flying for the Fourth of July.
Chronic illness is often hidden, Sara J. Winston writes. Through photographs of her monthly treatments for multiple sclerosis, she makes it more visible.
This week’s episode of “Matter of Opinion” discusses our collective fascination with extraterrestrial life and conspiracy theories.
Here are columns by Ross Douthat on replacing elites and Charles Blow on Republican constitutionalists.
Kiki or Bouba? They’re nonsense words, but people still match them to shapes and images. Take our quiz to see how you pair them.
“Showbiz!” The drag king Murray Hill offers a glimpse inside his busy Pride month.
A morning listen from Serial: Dozens of women experienced severe pain after visits to a Yale fertility clinic. Listen to the shocking story on “The Retrievals.”
Lives Lived: Lowell Weicker was a senator from Connecticut in Richard Nixon’s party when he took an assignment on the select committee investigating Watergate. His attacks on Nixon during the committee’s hearings made him famous. He died at 92.
Baseball history: The Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán threw the M.L.B.’s first perfect game since 2012, The Athletic reports. “The magic of the perfect game,” The Times’s Tyler Kepner writes, is that “it can happen to any pitcher at any time.”
Bedard’s destiny: As expected, Connor Bedard went No. 1 overall in last night’s N.H.L. draft. The Athletic explains why he’ll transform the Blackhawks.
Simone Biles: The star gymnast is expected to compete in the upcoming U.S. Classic, The Times reports. Her entrance signals a return to elite gymnastics after her mental health issues at the Tokyo Olympics.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Changing bodies: Many opera singers say they work best while pregnant. Doctors are unsure why — it could be a result of increased blood flow, or added pressure on the diaphragm, or a new awareness of muscles and posture. “Everything was so easy,” said the soprano Kathryn Lewek, who performed in Mozart’s “Magic Flute” through two pregnancies. “High notes just came shooting out of me.” Yet singers say they are still removed from roles because of pregnancies.
More on culture
Madonna will postpone her “Celebration” tour after being hospitalized with an infection.
Harrison Ford has a digital face-lift in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” a “weird and distracting” decision, Manohla Dargis writes.
THE MORNING RECOMMENDS …
Marinate tofu for tacos.
Revive your old computer to pass on to your children.
Cool down your hot, stuffy car with shades and fans.
Read “Self-Made,” a new book about the history of personal branding.
Here are today’s Spelling Bee and the Bee Buddy, which helps you find remaining words. Yesterday’s pangrams were flipflopping and flopping.
And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — German
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German Lopez is a writer for The Morning, The Times’s flagship daily newsletter, where he covers major world events and how they affect people. @germanrlopez
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