Oct 11, 2022 - Podcasts

Russia launches deadly new strikes across Ukraine

Russian missiles fired across Ukraine on Monday, hitting cities including the capital Kyiv, in the largest bombardment since the beginning of the war. The Ukrainian government said at least 14 people were killed and 97 were injured, and many are without power and water.

  • Plus, Indigenous communities face the brunt of a warming planet.

Guests: Axios’ Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath and Indigenous Environmental Network's Brenna Two Bears.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Robin Linn, Fonda Mwangi, Ben O'Brien and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Tuesday, October 11th.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Today: Indigenous communities facing the brunt of a warming planet.

BRENNA TWOBEARS: We're still here, making sure that all of our actions helped to mitigate the climate crisis.

NIALA: But first, explosions across Ukraine as the war takes a new bloody turn. That’s today’s One Big Thing.

NIALA: Russian missiles fired across Ukraine yesterday hitting multiple cities, including the capital Kyiv, in the largest bombardment since the beginning of the war. The Ukrainian government said at least 14 people were killed, 97 were injured and many are without power and water. President Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday that rhe U.S. would Leaders from around the world, including Russia's biggest allies China and India, have called for de-escalation. Axios’ Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath is here with where things stand. Hey Laurin-Whitney!

LAURIN-WHITNEY: Hi. Nice to be here.

NIALA: Russian President Vladimir Putin says the strikes were in retaliation for Ukraine destroying a portion of a bridge linking mainland Russia with occupied Crimea over the weekend. But, Ukrainian officials haven't claimed responsibility for that. Can you catch us up with what has gone on in the past couple of days here with this war?

LAURIN-WHITNEY: It actually started way before I think the Crimea bridge explosion. First and foremost, we saw Putin claim that several regions in Ukraine are now part of Russia. And that sort of, I think, started what a lot of people see as escalation, or at least him setting the stage for an escalation. And then at the same time, within 24 hours of him doing that, we saw Ukrainian forces recapture some of those cities that had been occupied by Russian forces since the beginning of the war and were in these supposed annexed provinces.

So that really did not bode well for the Russians or Putin. So then once the bridge attack happened, we don't exactly for sure know that it was the Ukrainians, but obviously a lot of things point to the fact that it was likely the Ukrainians. Another humiliating thing to happen to Russia and to Putin. And that really set the stage for these massive bombardments across Ukraine, and I think that just goes to show Putin and though his inner circle are trying to appease those folks who were starting to criticize Russia, even if they weren't criticizing Putin, they were definitely criticizing Russian forces. And this is what a lot of elites and state media, or in Telegram, etcetera, were calling for is actually going after this infrastructure. And we have to remember winter's coming. So attacking this infrastructure is actually very critical at least if Ukrainians lose access to water or electricity for prolonged periods of time heading into winter, that's gonna cause major disruption to daily life outside of just war.

NIALA: President Biden put out a statement strongly condemning the attacks, but more surprisingly, China and India also made comments. What is the significance of what Russia's allies said?

LAURIN-WHITNEY: Right. So, India's an interesting case because they actually are sort of playing both sides of the field, and then China, we obviously know, are allies with Russia. And both India and China have been very careful, I think, in their messaging since sort of the beginning of the war. But this, they’re de-escalation sort of comments or calls coming sort of in the aftermath of this huge bombardment, I think shows that they too were worried. It's interesting, I actually was talking to a source not too long ago, who mentioned China's sort of careful approach to this whole thing. And, you know, the thing that this person said was China doesn't wanna come out on the losing side. So they're also calculating what they have to gain with this war.

NIALA: Axios’ Deputy World Editor Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath, thank you for being with us.


NIALA: And an update on this story: The White House said yesterday that President Biden promised Ukrainian President Zelensky quote “the support needed to defend itself - including advanced air systems,” end quote. The US had already committed to providing Ukraine National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile systems.

In a moment, one environmental activist on how climate change is affecting indigenous communities like theirs.


Indigenous communities face the brunt of a warming planet

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo.

Yesterday marked Indigenous Peoples Day, which honors the country's first inhabitants and its tribal nations. But as climate change displaces more and more people – more than 21 million, according to the UN Refugee Agency – many indigenous communities are grappling with what feels like an impossible choice: whether to stay on their land or go.

Axios' Ayurella Horn-Muller recently wrote about this and spoke to Brenna TwoBears from the Indigenous Environmental Network. They're a member of the Navajo, Ho-Chunk, and Standing Rock Lakota Tribes, and they're joining us now from Portland. Hi Brenna. Thank you for being with us.

BRENNA TWOBEARS: Thank you for having me.

NIALA: What would you say are some of the main climate challenges that Native communities are facing?

BRENNA: A lot of the tribes who have been displaced have been displaced to environments that are going to bear the breadth of climate change via extreme weather, droughts, wildfire. And we can already see a lot of that happening. And, but the second thing that I wanna mention is that there is an unprecedented amount of indigenous land that is being affected by fossil fuels. And it's really important to know that they are one of the hugest drivers behind climate change, so there are historically many health risks that come with that.

NIALA: We've of course recently been hearing about the devastating effects of Hurricanes Ian and Fiona, but what makes indigenous communities particularly vulnerable to climate change, if not disproportionately so, I think you mentioned some of this.

BRENNA: A lot of it has come from the historic acts of genocide that have been enacted on indigenous people. So that would include things like being removed from their lands, that would include things like food insecurity, which have led to diseases and overall tribes are just not in a place to provide the infrastructure and support that is needed by the communities in order to assess some of these loss and damage and like mitigation of climate disasters, let alone respond to them as they're happening in real time. Even though here in the US we have tribal sovereignty, we are still operating within the structure that the US government has enacted on us. And that means that we're not allowed to do these sorts of practices that have informed our land stewardship. 80% of the world's biodiversity right now sits with indigenous communities. And the reason why we hold 80% is because of this culture that's passed down, this knowledge, this traditional ecological knowledge that we know helps us to steward the land, to keep the Earth healthy.

NIALA: Brenna, when you say practices what kind of things are you talking about?

BRENNA: So there's a lot of things. there is like a traditional, fire burnings that one of the tribes out in California has done in the past to keep the land healthy and in order to make sure that all of that dry wood is taken care of in a way that is controlled, and those practices can't be enacted by those tribes anymore.

NIALA: Brenna, I think one thing we hear a lot, is the idea that people should move and resettle elsewhere. What are you hearing from the tribes you work with when it comes to that?

BRENNA: We have already been removed from our communities in the first place and are displaced onto this land where it's even more dangerous to live and now we have to move again. It doesn't make any sense. It feels like the next step in a genocidal process.

And I know that there's a lot of non-indigenous youth who are saying like, ‘Oh, this is the fall of an empire. This is like when things start to spiral.’ But for a lot of indigenous youth, this already is our post apocalyptic future. Things have already spiraled. This is not new to us. We have seen this coming for a long time, and we're still here, making sure that all of our actions helped to mitigate the climate crisis.

NIALA: Brenna TwoBears is a member of the Navajo, Ho-Chunk and Standing Rock, Lakota Tribes and with the Indigenous Environmental Network. Brenna, thank you for your time.

BRENNA: Ahé’hee’ Niala. Thank you.

NIALA That’s it for us today! You can always reach our team by emailing podcasts at axios dot com or you can text your feedback to me directly at (202) 918-4893.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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