Monday, June 24, 2024

Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 260: US claims Russia and Ukraine each likely suffered 100,000 troops killed or wounded

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine on February 24 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

Ukrainian forces retake 12 settlements towards Kherson

Ukrainian forces have advanced seven km (4.3 miles) in two directions in the south and captured 12 new settlements in the last 24 hours, Ukrainian army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi stated.

“We can’t yet confirm or deny the information of the so-called withdrawal of Russian occupation troops from Kherson. We continue to conduct the offensive operation in line with our plan,” he wrote in a post on Telegram.

Zaluzhnyi added Ukrainian forces had advanced in the direction from Pervomaiske towards Kherson and Petropavlivka towards Novoraysk, roughly parallel with the Dnipro River.

Russia to announce several initiatives at G20 summit

Russia is expected to announce several initiatives related to gas cooperation with Turkey and grain exports Group of 20 (G20) summit in Indonesia next week, the Russian foreign ministry announced.

“A number of specific initiatives are planned, including increasing gas cooperation with Turkey, (and) organising large shipments of grain and fertilisers,” it said in a statement.

President Vladimir Putin, whose attendance is still unclear, with reports saying he will not attend but might join virtually, proposed creating a “gas hub” in Turkey, where shipments of Russian gas could be sold to the European market.

The ministry hopes the summit would contribute to establishing a “multipolar” world, which Putin often uses to criticise what he argues is Western dominance in global affairs.

While Russia’s presence at the G20 meeting has drawn criticism from Western countries, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the summit on behalf of Russia.

Kherson withdrawal is ‘another victory for Ukraine’: NATO Secretary

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says he was waiting to see how Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson plays out, but if confirmed, it would be “another victory for Ukraine”.

“We have to see how the situation on the ground develops in the coming days. But what is clear is that Russia is under heavy pressure and if they leave Kherson, it would be another victory for Ukraine,” he said after talks with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome.

Ukraine recaptures town of Snihurivka in push towards Kherson city

The Ukrainian military has recaptured Snihurivka, a town in the southern Mykolaiv region that lies on the main road to the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, in the neighboring Kherson region.

The recapture of Snihurivka is a significant victory for the Ukrainian military in their push toward Kherson city, and comes a day after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered a withdrawal of Russian forces from the west bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region.

US military chief: Over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed or wounded in conflict – and same on Ukrainian side

Russia has suffered more than 100,000 killed and wounded soldiers as a result of the war in Ukraine, the top US general said, and Ukraine is probably looking at similar numbers.

Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley, speaking at an event at The Economic Club of New York, called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “tremendous strategic mistake” for which the country would pay “for years and years and years to come.”

The war, which began in late February, has caused a tremendous amount of human suffering, Milley noted, including between 15-30 million refugees and about 40,000 innocent Ukrainian civilians killed.

“You’re looking at well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded,” Milley continued, adding, “Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side.”

Milley said there may be a window of opportunity to negotiate an end to the conflict if and when the front lines stabilize during winter.

“When there’s an opportunity to negotiate when peace can be achieved, seize it,” Milley stated, adding, “Seize the moment.”

But if negotiations never materialized or failed, Milley said the US would continue to arm Ukraine, even as an outright military victory for either side looks increasingly unlikely.

“There has to be a mutual recognition that military victory is probably in the true sense of the word may be not achievable through military means, and therefore you need to turn to other means,” he noted.

Milley also stated the US was seeing initial indications that Russia was indeed pulling out of Kherson, as it had stated. But he added the withdrawal of 20,000-30,000 troops from the west bank of the Dnipro River could take days or even weeks.

“I believe they’re doing it in order to preserve their force, to re-establish defensive lines south of the river, but that remains to be seen,” Milley said, adding, “Right now, the early indicators are they’re doing what they say they’re doing and we’re seeing those early indicators.”

Biden says timing of Russia’s withdrawal announcement is evidence they have “some real problems”

US President Joe Biden said the timing of Russia’s announcement that it is withdrawing its troops from part of Kherson region was “interesting,” and that he had been told that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not likely to attend the upcoming G20 summit in Indonesia.

“I find it interesting they waited until after the election to make that judgment, which we knew for some time they were going to be doing, and it’s evidence of the fact that they have some real problems – the Russian military,” Biden stated Wednesday.

He noted where the withdrawal leads and “whether or not Ukraine is prepared to compromise with Russia” remains to be seen.

Biden added that he was “told that President Putin is not likely” to attend the G20 in Indonesia, but other world leaders would be “and we’re going to have an opportunity to see what the next steps may be.”

British national dies in Ukraine: UK government

he UK government announced Wednesday that a British man lost his life in Ukraine.

The UK foreign office in a statement said that it was “supporting the family of a British national who has lost his life in Ukraine,” but did not reveal the person’s name.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) added that it was in touch with “the local authorities in connection with his death.”

In June, former British Army soldier Jordan Gatley was shot and killed while fighting in Ukraine’s Severodonetsk.

British aid worker Paul Urey died in the annexed Donetsk region of Ukraine earlier this year after the Russian invasion started.

Bipartisan US support for Ukraine won’t change with Congress elections: NATO chief

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has denied that the Republicans’ advance in US midterm elections would undermine Western military backing for Ukraine.

“It’s absolutely clear that there is strong bipartisan support in the United States for continued support for Ukraine,” he told reporters.

“That has not changed with the elections that have taken place in the United States,” he added.

The US Congress committed $40bn for Ukraine in May with support across party lines as Kyiv fights back against Russian invaders.

But Republican Kevin McCarthy, who is in line to become House of Representatives speaker, warned last month there would be no “blank cheque” for Ukraine if his party regains control.

Ukraine enjoys backing from much of the Republican base, although hard-right lawmakers close to former President Donald Trump have voiced criticism of the US support.

Ukraine: GDP expected to contract to 39 percent in 2022

Ukraine has announced Russia’s destruction of civilian infrastructure would widen the expected contraction of gross domestic production (GDP) to 39 percent from an earlier forecast calling for a 35 percent drop. ​

Ukrainian economy minister Yulia Syvrydenko told reporters the government was taking steps to reduce its size. This would include staff reduction, as well as seeking a year-long extension on the suspension of US tariffs on steel.

UN officials to meet Russian delegation on grain deal in Geneva

Senior United Nations officials plan to meet members of a high-level Russian delegation in Geneva on Friday to discuss the Ukraine grain deal, a UN spokesperson has said.

“They will continue ongoing consultations in support of the efforts by the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the full implementation of the two agreements signed on 22 July in Istanbul,” the spokesperson stated.

Ukrainian official says talk of Russian withdrawal from Kherson is premature

A senior adviser to Ukraine’s president has said it is too early to talk about a Russian troop withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson.

“Until the Ukrainian flag is flying over Kherson, it makes no sense to talk about a Russian withdrawal,” Mykhailo Podolyak told the Reuters news agency.

Podolyak said some of Moscow’s troops remained in the region and alleged that Russian commanders were pouring in additional manpower in the face of a continuing Ukrainian counteroffensive.

NATO chief: It’s ‘encouraging’ to see more Ukrainian territory being liberated

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said it was “encouraging” to see Ukrainian forces being able to liberate more of the country’s territory, after Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered his troops to withdraw from Kherson.

Speaking in London, where he was meeting UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Stoltenberg noted, “The victories, the gains the Ukrainian armed forces are making belongs to the brave, courageous Ukrainian soldiers but of course, the support they receive from the United Kingdom, from NATO allies and partners is also essential.”

Kherson is one of four Ukrainian regions Putin proclaimed in September he was incorporating into Russia “forever” after a referendum that was condemned as illegal by Ukraine and its allies.

Stoltenberg has said Russian President Vladimir Putin made “several huge mistakes” when he invaded Ukraine.

“President Putin made several huge mistakes when he invaded Ukraine, strategic mistakes,” Stoltenberg added.

“One was to underestimate the Ukrainians – their courage, their commitment to fight and protect their country … The other mistake he made was to underestimate NATO allies, partners, in our ability to support Ukraine,” he continued.

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