The New York Times 2024-07-02 20:05:08

Middle East Crisis: Israel Strikes Southern Gaza After Ordering Evacuations

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Israeli forces said they fired at areas from which a rocket barrage had been launched a day earlier.

Israeli forces struck southern Gaza overnight, targeting areas of Khan Younis from which rockets had been launched at Israel a day earlier, the military said on Tuesday.

The strikes came after the Israeli military ordered new evacuations of eastern Khan Younis and the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Such orders are usually an indication that the military plans a ground assault, but the military did not say on Tuesday whether it would send troops into Khan Younis, an area its forces invaded earlier in the war but had vacated.

An evacuation announcement posted late Monday on social media by the Israeli military’s spokesman for Arab media, Avichay Adraee, said that people in the designated areas “must evacuate immediately” for their safety. That area includes the European Gaza Hospital, leading scores of patients and medical staff there to flee.

Doctors at the hospital, near Khan Younis, said overnight on Monday that they had also received orders to evacuate. The Israeli military said in a statement on Tuesday morning that it had “no intention to evacuate the European Hospital.”

Large swaths of Khan Younis were leveled during an extended assault at the beginning of the year, after which Israeli forces withdrew, claiming to have destroyed the Hamas battalions there. But Israeli commanders have repeatedly sent troops back into areas they had supposedly secured to put down resurgent pockets of Hamas fighters.

The evacuation order was announced after the Israeli military reported that at least 20 rockets were fired from southern Gaza toward Israel and said it had fired artillery in response, striking the sources of the launches.

Most of Gaza’s population of some 2.2 million has been displaced over the course of the war; many people have been forced to flee repeatedly under evacuation orders or to escape fighting.

The United Nations condemned Monday’s evacuation order. “It shows yet again that no place is safe in Gaza,” Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, told reporters in New York, adding that the announcement underscored the need for a cease-fire. “It is another stop in this deadly circular movement that the population of Gaza has to undergo on a regular basis,” he added.

Dr. Mohammed Harara, an emergency doctor at the European Gaza Hospital, shared videos with The New York Times on Monday that showed wounded patients at the hospital being transferred to stretchers and others being wheeled out, with rooms in disarray from the hurried evacuations. He estimated that there had been about 600 patients at the hospital and said he was still there, working on the evacuations.

In a message sent in the early hours of Tuesday, Dr. Harara said he could hear bombing very close by and that injured patients were arriving at the hospital, despite the evacuation order.

A doctor at Nasser Hospital, about six miles away, reported “mass chaos” and fistfights at its emergency room as ambulances arrived with patients from European Gaza Hospital, who had to vie for care with incoming patients from the area.

The doctor, Hina Cheema, a Pakistani American on a humanitarian mission at Nasser, said that the evacuations were complicated because roads in the area had been mostly destroyed and were now crowded with people fleeing, and that unstable patients risked death during transport. The drive from European Gaza Hospital to Nasser takes about 30 minutes in the current conditions, both she and Dr. Harara said.

There were about 300 to 400 beds at European Gaza Hospital, said Shéhérazade Kaoues, a spokeswoman for FAJR Scientific, a U.S.-based nonprofit group that has been organizing humanitarian medical missions to Gaza. But many more patients and displaced people were sheltering there before the evacuation order came, she said.

Ms. Kaoues said her organization had three foreign medical volunteers at European Gaza, but that all had been evacuated to a safe house.

In May, a group of about 16 international health care workers were stranded at European Gaza Hospital for roughly two weeks after Israel seized the Rafah border crossing near Egypt. At the time, there were no evacuation orders for the hospital, said Adam Hamawy, an American doctor at the hospital at the time. He wrote to President Biden about the dire peril in Gaza, saying that no one was safe, including civilians and humanitarian workers.

One of the medical workers who had been stranded at European Gaza in May, Dr. Mohammed Tahir, is an orthopedic and peripheral nerve surgeon from Britain who is now on his second medical mission with Fajr Scientific at the European Gaza Hospital. On Monday, he said he had evacuated to a safe house. In a video message posted on social media and shared with The Times, he said, “My feelings are that of disbelief, heartbreak, sadness. I literally left my patients back in the E.G.H. I don’t know who is going to look after them.”

He described working on patients with complicated injuries before his evacuation, including bone infections, and said he was uncertain of their fates. “These people will become sick very quickly and possibly even die within a matter of days,” he said.

Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting.

Netanyahu says Israel has nearly eliminated Hamas’s ‘terrorist army,’ and other news.

  • The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Monday that his country’s forces were “advancing toward the final stage of eliminating” Hamas’s “terrorist army,” though he added that Israel would still have to continue to “strike its remnants.” Mr. Netanyahu’s comments, made to cadets at Israel’s National Defense College, were the latest sign that his government intends to wind down major military operations against Hamas in Gaza in the near future and shift the military’s focus to the cross-border conflict with Hezbollah in Israel’s north.

  • The Israeli military said seven “projectiles” launched from Lebanon on Monday fell in three Israeli farming communities along the northern border, but there were no injuries reported. The military said that the Israeli Air Force had struck five targets in southern Lebanon on Monday that it characterized as “terrorist infrastructure” sites or military compounds.

Israeli officials exchange barbs amid an uproar over the release of Al-Shifa hospital’s director.

The release on Monday of the director of Gaza’s largest hospital, who was held in Israeli detention for more than seven months without charges, was welcomed by Palestinian and rights groups but set off an uproar across the Israeli political spectrum and exposed growing tensions among officials in the government.

Mohammad Abu Salmiya directed Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital, an early focus of Israel’s invasion of Gaza. He was taken into custody in late November while traveling with a U.N. convoy of ambulances evacuating patients from the hospital to southern Gaza, and was stopped at an Israeli checkpoint, according to the Gaza health ministry and the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

The Israeli military later publicized some evidence to support its case that Hamas operated from within the Shifa complex, including by showing reporters a fortified tunnel constructed underneath its grounds. An investigation by The New York Times suggested that Hamas had used the site for cover and stored weapons there.

Dr. Abu Salmiya’s release appeared to stun Israeli officials. Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right minister charged with national security, called the doctor’s release “security negligence,” and blamed Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, and the chief of the intelligence agency Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, for policies that he said contradicted the government’s decisions.

Mr. Gallant’s office deflected responsibility, issuing a statement saying the release of detainees is “not subject to approval of the Minister of Defense.” The Israeli Prison Service said in a statement that the decision had been made by the Israeli military and the Shin Bet, but the military said Dr. Abu Salmiya had not been in its custody.

Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself from the decision. In a statement on Monday, he called the release of the hospital director “an egregious error and a moral failure,” saying that he and other key authorities were not informed and that whoever is responsible should themselves be incarcerated.

Seeking to quell the growing outrage, Mr. Netanyahu said he was looking into the decision and expected answers from Mr. Bar of the Shin Bet late on Monday. He also said he would set up a team of security and military officials to vet detainees before release.

Benny Gantz, a centrist minister who resigned from the war cabinet led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in June, suggested to Mr. Netanyahu in a statement on Monday, “Prime Minister, if you close some government offices. I am sure that space and funds will be freed up for jails.”

Mr. Gantz took the opportunity to call for elections, yet again.

On Monday, at a news conference in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, a visibly frail Dr. Abu Salmiya said that nearly 50 other Palestinian detainees, including other doctors and health ministry staff members, had also been released and returned to Gaza.

“We were subjected to extreme torture,” Dr. Abu Salmiya said. He said he had been beaten over the head repeatedly and that his finger had been broken.

Human rights groups have said that Dr. Abu Salmiya’s prolonged detention without charges is an example of Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners, and his release comes as the Israeli Supreme Court is weighing a petition demanding the closure of an army barracks turned jail, Sde Teiman, where thousands of Gazans have been detained since the war started last year.

It was not immediately clear if Dr. Abu Salmiya had previously been held at Sde Teiman. He was released from another prison, Nafha, according to the Israeli Prison Service.

However, a statement from Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, referred to the controversy surrounding Sde Teiman in a statement on Monday explaining the doctor’s release. The statement noted that a decision had been made to hold detainees at Sde Teiman for only short periods of time, and said that made it necessary “to release dozens of detainees in order to clear places of incarceration.” The statement said that the Shin Bet had warned elected officials “in every possible forum” that it needed more space “in view of the need to arrest terrorists.”

The health ministry in Gaza called for the release of all other detained medical workers from Gaza who were “arrested and abused simply because they were treating the sick and wounded.”

At least 310 medical workers in Gaza have been detained by Israeli forces since the start of the war, but did not specify how many had been released, the ministry said.

Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

Israeli Generals, Low on Munitions, Want a Truce in Gaza

Israel’s top generals want to begin a cease-fire in Gaza even if it keeps Hamas in power for the time being, widening a rift between the military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has opposed a truce that would allow Hamas to survive the war.

The generals think that a truce would be the best way of freeing the roughly 120 Israelis still held, both dead and alive, in Gaza, according to interviews with six current and former security officials.

Underequipped for further fighting after Israel’s longest war in decades, the generals also think their forces need time to recuperate in case a land war breaks out against Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia that has been locked in a low-level fight with Israel since October, multiple officials said.

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German Court Fines Far-Right Politician for Using Nazi Phrase, Again

For the second time in seven weeks, a German court has convicted the prominent far-right leader Björn Höcke of using a banned Nazi slogan.

The conviction — at a time when the far right is on the ascent in Europe — is the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Mr. Höcke, the leader of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party in the eastern state of Thuringia.

After a three-day trial, Mr. Höcke was found on Monday to have willfully ignored the ban on using the banned Nazi slogan — “Everything for Germany” — and was fined 16,900 euros, about $18,100, after using the phrase late last year.

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From Courtroom to Downing Street: Keir Starmer Is on the Cusp of Power

Keir Starmer, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, nodded sympathetically as a young mother recalled, in harrowing terms, how she had watched closed-circuit television footage of the fatal stabbing of her 21-year-old son, whose heart was pierced with a single blow.

“Thank you for that,” a somber Mr. Starmer said to the woman and other relatives of victims of knife attacks, as they stood around a wooden table last week, discussing ways to combat violent crime. “It’s really, really powerful.”

It was not the most feel-good campaign event for a candidate the week before an election that his opposition party is widely expected to win. But it was entirely in character for Mr. Starmer, a 61-year-old former human rights lawyer who still behaves less like a politician than a prosecutor bringing a case.

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Orban, a Staunch Russia Ally and E.U. Agitator, Visits Ukraine

Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, one of the few European leaders who maintains warm relations with Moscow and has called on Kyiv to capitulate to Russia’s demands to end the bloodshed, arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday morning for his first wartime visit to the nation, his spokesman said.

A vocal critic of supplying military and other financial assistance to Ukraine who relishes his role as the odd man out in both the European Union and NATO, Mr. Orban said in an interview with the Hungarian news media on Monday night that the visit would be “the first steps” in promoting his vision for ending the war.

That vision stands in stark contrast to the plan outlined by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, whose government has consistently said that Russia must pull its troops out of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory before any peace talks can begin. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, however, has shown no signs of backing down, leaving the two sides as far apart as ever.

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A.I. Begins Ushering In an Age of Killer Robots

Paul Mozur and

Paul Mozur reported from Kyiv, Lviv, Kramatorsk and near the front lines in the Donbas region, all in Ukraine. Adam Satariano reported from London.

In a field on the outskirts of Kyiv, the founders of Vyriy, a Ukrainian drone company, were recently at work on a weapon of the future.

To demonstrate it, Oleksii Babenko, 25, Vyriy’s chief executive, hopped on his motorcycle and rode down a dirt path. Behind him, a drone followed, as a colleague tracked the movements from a briefcase-size computer.

Until recently, a human would have piloted the quadcopter. No longer. Instead, after the drone locked onto its target — Mr. Babenko — it flew itself, guided by software that used the machine’s camera to track him.

The motorcycle’s growling engine was no match for the silent drone as it stalked Mr. Babenko. “Push, push more. Pedal to the medal, man,” his colleagues called out over a walkie-talkie as the drone swooped toward him. “You’re screwed, screwed!”

If the drone had been armed with explosives, and if his colleagues hadn’t disengaged the autonomous tracking, Mr. Babenko would have been a goner.

Vyriy is just one of many Ukrainian companies working on a major leap forward in the weaponization of consumer technology, driven by the war with Russia. The pressure to outthink the enemy, along with huge flows of investment, donations and government contracts, has turned Ukraine into a Silicon Valley for autonomous drones and other weaponry.

What the companies are creating is technology that makes human judgment about targeting and firing increasingly tangential. The widespread availability of off-the-shelf devices, easy-to-design software, powerful automation algorithms and specialized artificial intelligence microchips has pushed a deadly innovation race into uncharted territory, fueling a potential new era of killer robots.

The most advanced versions of the technology that allows drones and other machines to act autonomously have been made possible by deep learning, a form of A.I. that uses large amounts of data to identify patterns and make decisions. Deep learning has helped generate popular large language models, like OpenAI’s GPT-4, but it also helps make models interpret and respond in real time to video and camera footage. That means software that once helped a drone follow a snowboarder down a mountain can now become a deadly tool.

In more than a dozen interviews with Ukrainian entrepreneurs, engineers and military units, a picture emerged of a near future when swarms of self-guided drones can coordinate attacks and machine guns with computer vision can automatically shoot down soldiers. More outlandish creations, like a hovering unmanned copter that wields machine guns, are also being developed.

The weapons are cruder than the slick stuff of science-fiction blockbusters, like “The Terminator” and its T-1000 liquid-metal assassin, but they are a step toward such a future. While these weapons aren’t as advanced as expensive military-grade systems made by the United States, China and Russia, what makes the developments significant is their low cost — just thousands of dollars or less — and ready availability.

Except for the munitions, many of these weapons are built with code found online and components such as hobbyist computers, like Raspberry Pi, that can be bought from Best Buy and a hardware store. Some U.S. officials said they worried that the abilities could soon be used to carry out terrorist attacks.

For Ukraine, the technologies could provide an edge against Russia, which is also developing autonomous killer gadgets — or simply help it keep pace. The systems raise the stakes in an international debate about the ethical and legal ramifications of A.I. on the battlefield. Human rights groups and United Nations officials want to limit the use of autonomous weapons for fear that they may trigger a new global arms race that could spiral out of control.

In Ukraine, such concerns are secondary to fighting off an invader.

“We need maximum automation,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, who has led the country’s efforts to use tech start-ups to expand advanced fighting capabilities. “These technologies are fundamental to our victory.”

Autonomous drones like Vyriy’s have already been used in combat to hit Russian targets, according to Ukrainian officials and video verified by The New York Times. Mr. Fedorov said the government was working to fund drone companies to help them rapidly scale up production.

Major questions loom about what level of automation is acceptable. For now, the drones require a pilot to lock onto a target, keeping a “human in the loop” — a phrase often invoked by policymakers and A.I. ethicists. Ukrainian soldiers have raised concerns about the potential for malfunctioning autonomous drones to hit their own forces. In the future, constraints on such weapons may not exist.

Ukraine has “made the logic brutally clear of why autonomous weapons have advantages,” said Stuart Russell, an A.I. scientist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has warned about the dangers of weaponized A.I. “There will be weapons of mass destruction that are cheap, scalable and easily available in arms markets all over the world.”

In a ramshackle workshop in an apartment building in eastern Ukraine, Dev, a 28-year-old soldier in the 92nd Assault Brigade, has helped push innovations that turned cheap drones into weapons. First, he strapped bombs to racing drones, then added larger batteries to help them fly farther and recently incorporated night vision so the machines can hunt in the dark.

In May, he was one of the first to use autonomous drones, including those from Vyriy. While some required improvements, Dev said, he believed that they would be the next big technological jump to hit the front lines.

Autonomous drones are “already in high demand,” he said. The machines have been especially helpful against jamming that can break communications links between drone and pilot. With the drone flying itself, a pilot can simply lock onto a target and let the device do the rest.

Makeshift factories and labs have sprung up across Ukraine to build remote-controlled machines of all sizes, from long-range aircraft and attack boats to cheap kamikaze drones — abbreviated as F.P.V.s, for first-person view, because they are guided by a pilot wearing virtual-reality-like goggles that give a view from the drone. Many are precursors to machines that will eventually act on their own.

Efforts to automate F.P.V. flights began last year, but were slowed by setbacks building flight control software, according to Mr. Fedorov, who said those problems had been resolved. The next step was to scale the technology with more government spending, he said, adding that about 10 companies were already making autonomous drones.

“We already have systems which can be mass-produced, and they’re now extensively tested on the front lines, which means they’re already actively used,” Mr. Fedorov said.

Some companies, like Vyriy, use basic computer vision algorithms, which analyze and interpret images and help a computer make decisions. Other companies are more sophisticated, using deep learning to build software that can identify and attack targets. Many of the companies said they pulled data and videos from flight simulators and frontline drone flights.

One Ukrainian drone maker, Saker, built an autonomous targeting system with A.I. processes originally designed for sorting and classifying fruit. During the winter, the company began sending its technology to the front lines, testing different systems with drone pilots. Demand soared.

By May, Saker was mass-producing single-circuit-board computers loaded with its software that could be easily attached to F.P.V. drones so the machines could auto-lock onto a target, said the company’s chief executive, who asked to be referred to only by his first name, Viktor, for fear of retaliation by Russia.

The drone then crashes into its target “and that’s it,” he said. “It resists wind. It resists jamming. You just have to be precise with what you’re going to hit.”

Saker now makes 1,000 of the circuit boards a month and plans to expand to 9,000 a month by the end of the summer. Several of Ukraine’s military units have already hit Russian targets on the front lines with Saker’s technology, according to the company and videos confirmed by The Times.

In one clip of Saker technology shared on social media, a drone flies over a field scarred by shelling. A box at the center of the pilot’s viewfinder suddenly zooms in on a tank, indicating a lock. The drone attacks on its own, exploding into the side of the armor.

Saker has gone further in recent weeks, successfully using a reconnaissance drone that identified targets with A.I. and then dispatched autonomous kamikaze drones for the kill, Viktor said. In one case, the system struck a target 25 miles away.

“Once we reach the point when we don’t have enough people, the only solution is to substitute them with robots,” said Rostyslav, a Saker co-founder who also asked to be referred to only by his first name.

On a hot afternoon last month in the eastern Ukrainian region known as the Donbas, Yurii Klontsak, a 23-year-old reservist, trained four soldiers to use the latest futuristic weapon: a gun turret with autonomous targeting that works with a PlayStation controller and a tablet.

Speaking over booms of nearby shelling, Mr. Klontsak explained how the gun, called Wolly after a resemblance to the Pixar robot WALL-E, can auto-lock on a target up to 1,000 meters away and jump between preprogrammed positions to quickly cover a broad area. The company making the weapon, DevDroid, was also developing an auto-aim to track and hit moving targets.

“When I first saw the gun, I was fascinated,” Mr. Klontsak said. “I understood this was the only way, if not to win this war, then to at least hold our positions.”

The gun is one of several that have emerged on the front lines using A.I.-trained software to automatically track and shoot targets. Not dissimilar to the object identification featured in surveillance cameras, software on a screen surrounds humans and other would-be targets with a digital box. All that’s left for the shooter to do is remotely pull the trigger with a video game controller.

For now, the gun makers say they do not allow the machine gun to fire without a human pressing a button. But they also said it would be easy to make one that could.

Many of Ukraine’s innovations are being developed to counter Russia’s advancing weaponry. Ukrainian soldiers operating machine guns are a prime target for Russian drone attacks. With robot weapons, no human dies when a machine gun is hit. New algorithms, still under development, could eventually help the guns shoot Russian drones out of the sky.

Such technologies, and the ability to quickly build and test them on the front lines, have gained attention and investment from overseas. Last year, Eric Schmidt, a former Google chief executive, and other investors set up a firm called D3 to invest in emerging battlefield technologies in Ukraine. Other defense companies, such as Helsing, are also teaming up with Ukrainian firms.

Ukrainian companies are moving more quickly than competitors overseas, said Eveline Buchatskiy, a managing partner at D3, adding that the firm asks the companies it invests in outside Ukraine to visit the country so they can speed up their development.

“There’s just a different set of incentives here,” she said.

Often, battlefield demands pull together engineers and soldiers. Oleksandr Yabchanka, a commander in Da Vinci Wolves, a battalion known for its innovation in weaponry, recalled how the need to defend the “road of life” — a route used to supply troops fighting Russians along the eastern front line in Bakhmut — had spurred invention. Imagining a solution, he posted an open request on Facebook for a computerized, remote-controlled machine gun.

In several months, Mr. Yabchanka had a working prototype from a firm called Roboneers. The gun was almost instantly helpful for his unit.

“We could sit in the trench drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and shoot at the Russians,” he said.

Mr. Yabchanka’s input later helped Roboneers develop a new sort of weapon. The company mounted the machine gun turret atop a rolling ground drone to help troops make assaults or quickly change positions. The application has led to a bigger need for A.I.-powered auto-aim, the chief executive of Roboneers, Anton Skrypnyk, said.

Similar partnerships have pushed other advances. On a drone range in May, Swarmer, another local company, held a video call with a military unit to walk soldiers through updates to its software, which enables drones to carry out swarming attacks without a pilot.

The software from Swarmer, which was formed last year by a former Amazon engineer, Serhii Kupriienko, was built on an A.I. model that was trained with large amounts of data on frontline drone missions. It enables a single technician to operate up to seven drones on bombing and reconnaissance missions.

Recently, Swarmer added abilities that can guide kamikaze attack drones up to 35 miles. The hope is that the software, which has been in tests since January, will cut down on the number of people required to operate the miniaturized air forces that dominate the front lines.

During a demonstration, a Swarmer engineer at a computer watched a map as six autonomous drones buzzed overhead. One after the other, large bomber drones flew over a would-be target and dropped water bottles in place of bombs.

Some drone pilots are afraid they will be replaced entirely by the technology, Mr. Kupriienko said.

“They say: ‘Oh, it flies without us. They will take away our remote controls and put a weapon in our hand,’” he said, referring to the belief that it’s safer to fly a drone than occupy a trench on the front.

“But I say, no, you’ll now be able to fly with five or 10 drones at the same time,” he said. “The software will help them fight better.”

In 2017, Mr. Russell, the Berkeley A.I. researcher, released an online film, “Slaughterbots,” warning of the dangers of autonomous weapons. In the movie, roving packs of low-cost armed A.I. drones use facial recognition technology to hunt down and kill targets.

What’s happening in Ukraine moves us toward that dystopian future, Mr. Russell said. He is already haunted, he said, by Ukrainian videos of soldiers who are being pursued by weaponized drones piloted by humans. There’s often a point when soldiers stop trying to escape or hide because they realize they cannot get away from the drone.

“There’s nowhere for them to go, so they just wait around to die,” Mr. Russell said.

He isn’t alone in fearing that Ukraine is a turning point. In Vienna, members of a panel of U.N. experts also said they worried about the ramifications of the new techniques being developed in Ukraine.

Officials have spent more than a decade debating rules about the use of autonomous weapons, but few expect any international deal to set new regulations, especially as the United States, China, Israel, Russia and others race to develop even more advanced weapons. In one U.S. program announced in August, known as the Replicator initiative, the Pentagon said it planned to mass-produce thousands of autonomous drones.

“The geopolitics makes it impossible,” said Alexander Kmentt, Austria’s top negotiator on autonomous weapons at the U.N. “These weapons will be used, and they’ll be used in the military arsenal of pretty much everybody.”

Nobody expects countries to accept an outright ban of such weapons, he said, “but they should be regulated in a way that we don’t end up with an absolutely nightmare scenario.”

Groups including the International Committee of the Red Cross have pushed for legally binding rules that prohibit certain types of autonomous weapons, restrict the use of others and require a level of human control over decisions to use force.

For many in Ukraine, the debate is academic. They are outgunned and outmanned.

“We need to win first,” Mr. Fedorov, the minister of digital transformation, said. “To do that, we will do everything we can to introduce automation to its maximum to save the lives of our soldiers.”

Olha Kotiuzhanska contributed reporting from Lviv, Kyiv, Kramatorsk and near the front lines in the Donbas region.

North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Suggests Arms Race With South

North Korea said on Tuesday that it had tested a new ballistic missile with a “super-large warhead,” the most recent development in an arms race with South Korea as the countries vie to introduce weapons of increasingly destructive power.

Two of the new missiles, known as the Hwasong-11Da-4.5, were launched on Monday, each with a dummy warhead that weighed 4.5 tons, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. ​Ballistic missiles often carry warheads that weigh less than a ton.

South Korea already has similar missiles that can deliver large warheads. Col. Lee Sung-jun, a spokesman for the South’s military, said the North’s Hwasong-11 series missiles were believed to be capable of carrying payloads of half a ton to 2.5 tons, but that it was “theoretically possible” to modify them to deliver a 4.5-ton payload.

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