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Ukraine Crisis

War in Ukraine wreaks havoc on surrogate families



Surrogate children being looked after near Kyiv.

Bombardment, shelling and missiles have become a daily part of life in Ukraine, as the conflict recently entered its fourth month.

Russia says the mission is a “special military operation”. But over 4,000 civilians have lost their lives, including over 200 children.

The ongoing conflict has become a nightmare for surrogates in the war-torn country, and hopeful parents watching on.

Ukraine’s relaxed surrogacy laws allow over 2,000 babies to be born in the country each year.

Emma Micallif is an Australian who turned to Ukraine, where she matched with Svetlana to birth her second child.

But when Russian tanks rolled across the border, everything changed.

Svetlana was living in fear, as air raid sirens kept her awake for days on end. On the other side of the world, Emma was also anxious for her unborn child.

Emma diagnosed with cervical cancer 32 weeks into her pregnancy with her first child, Felix.

For six months Emma’s surrogacy operation ran smoothly, until Russian forces entered their neighbouring country on 24 February.

Emma, and two other couples arranged a bus to evacuate three surrogates and their 10 children to Moldova.

It was a moment of bittersweet relief, the surrogates were safe, but the nation’s strict surrogacy laws were far from ideal.

Others have been forced to watch the crisis from across the globe, with no way of knowing where their child is, or if they are safe.

Why are people turning to Ukraine for surrogacy?

Commercial surrogacy has been a legal practice for over 20 years in Ukraine.

Dr. Ronli Sifris is an expert in women’s reproductive health and law at Monash University, who says some local laws are restrictive, which is pushing parents to look elsewhere.

“It’s hard to even imagine being pregnant and giving birth during wartime for someone that’s carrying their own baby, let alone if you’re carrying somebody else’s baby”.


Ukraine allows the future parents to be listed on the child’s birth certificate rather than the surrogate.

This means the child’s intended parents are listed as official guardians under Ukrainian law.

Surrogacy is not a cheap operation in Ukraine. Someone may expect to pay up to USD $40,000 for the service.

But this is a fraction of the USD $150,000 it might cost to use a surrogate in the U.S.

“You’re having to potentially flee to another part of the country and be separated from your own children and from your own partner, or even fleeing to another country.”

Dr Ronli Sifris

In many countries, like Australia for example, commercial surrogacy is still illegal.

If a family does find someone to carry their child, the intended parents are not recognised as the legal parents at birth.

When Svetlana and the other surrogates arrived in the Moldovan capital, Chișinău, they were forced into a small apartment with few beds.

Svetlana was pregnant and sleeping on the floor.

Her husband was left in Ukraine and her mother was evacuated to Germany—a sign of her own family falling apart as she was bringing hope for another.

Is it time to change surrogacy laws?

Surrogate in Ukraine who are holding babies for British families have recently become eligible for special visa, which last for three years.

Dr. Sifris says the conflict has highlighted the importance of cross-border pregnancy, and should be the catalyst for changing surrogacy laws.

“The anxiety around legalising and regulating compensated surrogacy in Australia does not make sense.”

“Australia’s legal system has the capability to do this, and in doing so, would minimise the risk of exploitation,” she says.

Nurses care for newborns at a clinic on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Nurses like Oksana Martynenko are raising their hands to help with the wartime labour effort, until surrogacy laws are changed abroad.

“We look after them, we cannot leave them behind. How could that be possible? They’re tiny creatures,” she says.

Martynenko and her colleagues have a steady flow of surrogate babies at a makeshift clinic on the outskirts of Kyiv.

The children will remain at the facility until their parents collect them.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Europe is preparing for winter: how can you keep costs down?



Britain is facing a surge in cold weather, with icy conditions and fog expected for much of this week

The UK Met Office has issued a Yellow warning, which means there could be damage to buildings as Britons brace for cold conditions.

Like much of Europe, the UK are bracing for very strong winds on Wednesday, causing disruption to travel and some utilities.

Drivers are also urged to take extra care on the roads, with warnings in place for icy stretches forming on UK roads.

But some residents who are seeking to heat their homes are on edge, as power prices remain high.

Peter Smith is the director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, who said the rising cost of living is impacting Britons.

“The average annual bill has almost doubled since this time last year.”

The organisation seeks to close the gaps when it comes to energy affordability. It predicts 6.7 million UK households will be in fuel poverty in the coming months.

This means millions of Britons will be unable to afford living in a warm, dry and safe home.

“So far the milder than usual weather has protected many from the spiralling bills as they haven’t needed to heat their homes as high or as long as usual,” Mr Smith said.

How to keep warm without blowing your bill

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged people to make their own decisions, as he met with world leaders in tropical Bali last week.

“There are things that we can do—all of us—to improve the efficiency with which we use energy, to be careful about it,” he said.

For example, an efficient heater; taking advantage of the sun, where appropriate; and rearranging furniture are some cost-effective methods to reduce the burden on gas and energy bills.

Pipes at the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline are pictured in Germany.

In addition, there are some other cheap ways to reduce dependence on gas and electricity bills, as the temperature continue to plunge.

  • close off rooms you’re not using
  • lower the temperature of heating
  • make sure windows are fully closed
  • block cold drafts from under doors using door snakes or carpet.

The UK Government has placed a cap freeze on energy prices.

This means households will pay an average £2,500 on their energy bills. But there is a catch: if households use more, they pay more.

National Energy Action believes an additional 2.2 million homes could be in fuel poverty, when compared to the same time last year.

Why are energy prices so high?

As demand increases, so too does the cost of heating homes.

But there is another factor, which has sent prices rising across Europe: the war in Ukraine.

Russia accounts for 25% of global gas trade, 15% of global thermal coal trade and 10% of global oil trade.

However, countries are struggling to find alternative supplies after sanctioning Moscow for the ongoing conflict.

“Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine, and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster.”


Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was expected to double the amount of Russian gas shipped to Europe.

In July, Russia cut the amount of gas pumped through Nord Stream 1 to 20 per cent capacity.

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Hoax call between Polish and “French” Presidents



Poland President Andrezj Duda spoke to a hoaxer posing as France counterpart Emmanuel Macron, on the night a missile hit near the Poland-Ukraine border.

The news was confirmed after two Russian pranksters, Vovan and Lexus, posted a recording of the incident, and Duda’s office also affirmed the incident.

During the call, Duda was asking who was responsible for the attack on November 15, wanting to avoid a war with Russia.

The missile landed six kilometres from the border.

Initial reports suggested the missile was Russian-made, but it was later discovered to likely be a Ukrainian air defence missile.

This is the second time the pranksters have targeted the Poland President, who have made their names going after celebrities and politicians, especially those opposed to the Kremlin.


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Russian missiles hit NATO territory, killing two



Russian missile hits Poland, as the west assesses the attack on a NATO member

Reports a Russian missile has landed in Poland, killing two people. A projectile struck an area where grain was drying in the village of Przewodów, near the Ukraine border. 

An anonymous U.S. intelligence official suggested a barrage of Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian power grid, and spilt into neighbouring Poland.

Poland is a NATO member, therefore, this signifies a potential escalation to the ongoing war. It also marks the first time weapons have impacted a NATO country.

Emergency talks

Currently, the Polish government are holding urgent talks. A Polish spokesman Piotr Mueller has confirmed that top leaders are holding an emergency meeting regarding the “crisis situation.”

Under Article 5 of NATO, an attack on one country is considered an attack on all.

The White House has not confirmed the reports but the Pentagon is assessing the situation.

“I don’t want to speculate or get in hypotheticals. When it comes to our security commitments in Article 5—we’ve been crystal clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”

Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon Press Secretary

While NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, including in response to the situation in Syria and the Russian invasion of Ukraine—it has only invoked Article 5 once.

For the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO evoked Article 5 and came to the defence of the United States.

“Terror is not limited to our national borders.

Russian missiles hit Poland. To fire missiles at NATO territory.

This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a very significant escalation. We must act.”

volodymyr zelensky, Ukraine’s president

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