At first, Ukrainians used their smartphones to warn others of air raid alerts.
Now, they’ve changed tack, instead using a suite of apps to track Russian missiles heading towards their nation.
Since the start of the war, Russia has attacked Ukraine’s power grid with more than 1,000 missiles. The country’s power network has now been reduced by up to 50%, according to government officials.
But, speaking in the latest episode of the Sky News Ukraine War Diaries podcast, Kyiv resident Ilyas Verdiev explains why internet connectivity is now sometimes even more coveted than light and heat for besieged residents.
“I had a blackout a week-and-a-half ago, I didn’t have electricity,” he explains. “But more important is that I didn’t have a stable Internet connection.
“That means I didn’t get the information from the different sources of how the situation is at the moment.
“Telegram is basically an instant messenger [app] where you can post any kind of information to different ‘channels’. I have a few channels.
“One of them gives you an information of how and when the air forces of Russia are moving, whether they bring the missiles, whether the missiles were launched. They can even post the interceptions of pilots from the Russian side.“
On 5 December, Russia attacked Kyiv with yet another barrage of missiles. Ilyas, like many Kyiv residents, used apps to track the attack from point of origin to eventual execution.
“Today [5 December] they have warned in advance that this air raid is dangerous and there is a massive take-off of their planes which were bringing the missiles on board,” Ilyas continues.
“The other application is the air raid map. It’s a map of Ukraine and each region turns red when the air raid is on in that particular region. We had an air raid starting from the eastern parts of Ukraine. And gradually all of the regions from the east to west to the north and to the south, all over were getting red… if an air raid is growing and covers most of the regions on the map, I will start packing things…and get ready to go to the basement. Sooner or later it will come to Kyiv.
“Simultaneously, you can hear the actual siren outside your apartment, and the same time, you have a notification which sounds exactly like a siren on your mobile.
“I can actually make some plans – how to act, what to do, where to go. I can warn my parents in advance – they should be ready to go to the corridor or to a safer place.”
From the creators of Sky News’ award-winning StoryCast, Ukraine War Diaries is a weekly podcast following those living on Europe’s new frontline, and those who have escaped it.
Producer: Robert Mulhern
Digital promotion and additional writing: David Chipakupaku
Two bodies found in search for missing TV presenter Jesse Baird and his partner
Two bodies have been found in the search for a missing Australian TV presenter and his partner, who were allegedly killed by a police officer.
Jesse Baird, 26, and his flight attendant partner Luke Davies, 29, were allegedly shot dead in Mr Baird’s Sydney home last week.
Beau Lamarre-Condon, a police officer who was in a relationship with Mr Baird until late last year, was charged on Friday with the murders of both men.
Police said Lamarre-Condon provided them with information that led them to the bodies, which were found in a rural area around 124 miles southwest of Sydney.
The New South Wales force allege the 28-year-old officer and ex-celebrity blogger killed the couple at Mr Baird’s home in the Paddington area of the city on Monday and hired a white van to dispose of their bodies. Neighbours reportedly heard an argument at the property that morning.
Mr Baird was a presenter with Network 10 until December. Mr Davies was a Qantas flight attendant.
The Mardi Gras board said LGBT+ communities across Australia had been devastated by the loss of the couple, who had planned to celebrate at the annual parade on Saturday.
The incident has prompted Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras organisers to ask police not to march on the weekend, a move the police commissioner urges them to reconsider.
The board said police presence could “add to the distress within our communities”, which are “already deeply affected by recent events”.
“This decision was not made lightly, especially considering that many… police members who participate in the parade are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community and are navigating the impact of this tragedy alongside us,” the board added.
“However, we believe that their participation at this year’s event could intensify the current feelings of sorrow and distress.”
The alleged killer has been part of the parade in the past, the board said.
Police Commissioner Karen Webb, who has taken part in the annual march since 2006, said she will meet with the organisers in a bid to reverse their decision.
“We’re not dealing with a gay hate crime here,” she said. “We’re dealing with a domestic homicide and… I’m disappointed [by] the position that Mardi Gras board has taken on this issue.”
She added this time “more than any in our society” is “time to come together”.
We’re talking about inclusion, we’re talking about diversity and to exclude part of that community, I think, sends a wrong message,” she added.
Israel-Hamas war: Joe Biden says he hopes Gaza ceasefire can be agreed ‘by end of the weekend’
Joe Biden has said he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas can be secured by the weekend.
The US president made the remarks during an unannounced visit to the Van Leeuwen ice cream parlour, next door to 30 Rock in New York, on Monday.
Flanked by late night TV show host Seth Meyers, Mr Biden was asked by reporters on when a ceasefire in Gaza could start.
In a surprise turn, he said that he hopes it will take place “by the end of the weekend”.
“My national security advisor (Jake Sullivan) tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” he said. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”
Mr Biden’s comments come as Israel prepares to start a military operation in Rafah – which he has warned against without a “credible” plan to protect civilians.
Israel has said it will go ahead with an offensive on the city if hostages are not returned by 10 March, which is when Ramadan starts.
According to NBC News, Sky news’ US partner network, Qatar is mediating talks between Israel and Hamas this week, and ceasefire negotiations have taken place between US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris.
Should it happen, it would be the second ceasefire following one in November which saw several hundred Palestinians released from Israeli jails and about 100 hostages freed by Hamas.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said earlier on Monday that the Israeli Defence Force proposed a plan for the evacuation of civilians from “fighting areas” to the country’s war cabinet.
This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.
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Alexei Navalny was set to be part of prison swap before he died, claims ally
Alexei Navalny was set to be freed as part of a prisoner swap when he died, one of his allies has claimed.
The Russian opposition leader died at a penal colony within the Artic Circle on 16 February, while serving a 19-year prison sentence on charges his supporters said were politically motivated.
It has now been claimed that the prisoner-swap talks were in their “final stages” when Mr Navalny died.
In a video posted on the late Kremlin critic’s YouTube channel, Maria Pevchikh – who lives outside Russia – said: “Alexei Navalny could have been sitting here now, today. It’s not a figure of speech.”
Ms Pevchikh said she received confirmation about the talks just one day before Mr Navalny’s death was announced.
Ukraine-Russia latest: Kremlin dismisses peace talks as ‘laughable’
She claimed that Putin “wouldn’t tolerate” Navalny being freed and decided to “get rid of the bargaining chip”. She has not offered evidence to back up the allegation.
The circumstances of Mr Navalny’s death remain unclear – but several world leaders, including Joe Biden, have directly blamed Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.
Mr Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya has also pointed the finger at the Russian president, claiming her husband could have been poisoned with novichok.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in his death.
Ms Pevchikh said Mr Navalny and two US citizens held in Russia, whom she has not identified, were supposed to be swapped for Vadim Krasikov.
Krasikov is serving a life sentence in Germany for the 2019 killing of Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian citizen of Chechen descent.
There are several US citizens in custody in Russia, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested on espionage charges, and Paul Whelan, a corporate security executive from Michigan, convicted of espionage.
Both men and the US government dispute the charge.
When asked about the swap claim at a regular news conference in Berlin, German government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann said she could not comment.
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