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War in Ukraine shows little sign of slowing

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

One in four Ukrainians have been displaced in the months since Russia invaded Ukraine. Millions of them are children. The crisis shows little signs of slowing as Russian forces continue to bombard cities. And Ukrainians offer stiffer than expected resistance. NPR's Nathan Rott is in western Ukraine, in Lviv, and joins us now. Hey, Nate.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Hey, Juana.

SUMMERS: So one month in now, where does this war seem to be at?

ROTT: So there's not been a lot of movement on either side in recent days. The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S.-based think tank, is actually describing it as a, quote, "protracted and stalemated conflict." So Russian troops have made little headway in capturing the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, resorting instead, it seems, to just hammering the city and its suburbs as it really has others in the last four weeks with artillery and bombs. And that, sadly, is why we're seeing so many civilian casualties and people displaced. You know, the lingering kind of undercurrent concern we're hearing, though, is that Russia could try to break the stalemate by using chemical or even nuclear weapons. There's a lot of people here worried about that.

SUMMERS: There was an emergency NATO summit today where President Biden met with a number of other Western leaders. Were they're questions about that kind of escalation that came up there?

ROTT: Yeah. So NATO's secretary general voiced concerns about the possible use of chemical or biological weapons and Russia's nuclear saber rattling, as he put it. You know, many Western leaders have called the use of either a red line, though none of them really seem keen to enter the conflict. NATO did agree to double the number of its troops in Eastern Europe, and they announced more sanctions on Russian elites today, as well as more support for Ukrainian military and humanitarian efforts.

SUMMERS: Nate, you're in western Ukraine, in Lviv. What is it like where you are?

ROTT: Honestly, Juana, it's a bit surreal. You know, I talked to some of our colleagues from Morning Edition who have been reporting in Kyiv the last couple of days. And they said the sound of artillery there is like a soundtrack for the city. It's just this constant drumming in the distance. You know, here in Lviv, there are air raid alarms, but it's been pretty quiet recently. And today was a beautiful day. You know, people were walking around the city. Stores were open. You'd hear music from shops. But there are these little hints of the broader conflict you see walking around. There are the air raid alarms I mentioned, you know, families walking from the train station towing luggage, towing pets. We saw a young man walking a puppy with his right arm in a heavy sling earlier.

SUMMERS: In a sling. Do you know if he'd been injured in the war?

ROTT: So, yeah, his friend said he'd just come back from the front line, but they didn't really want to talk about it or offer much more. You know, and a lot of young men from western Ukraine are fighting in the east and south, where there is more of a conflict happening right now. We actually ran into a funeral procession for a 38-year-old soldier from Lviv who was killed in the southern part of the country on the second day of the invasion. Mourners were holding blue and yellow flower bouquets. They wept as his casket was carried to and from the church. I asked one of the people standing outside, an 82-year-old woman named Bogdanna Rembesky (ph), whether she was at all hopeful the war would end.

BODGANNA REMBESKY: (Non-English language spoken).

ROTT: So that's her saying it cannot go on. This kind of violence, it cannot continue. And that sentiment is what we've heard from a lot of people here. They want this war to end. They want Russia's invasion to end. But they're not in any way ready to lay down arms or capitulate to Russia's demands. So this could end up going on much longer.

SUMMERS: That is NPR's Nathan Rott in Lviv, Ukraine. Thank you.

ROTT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.