Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, Russia’s efforts to win the war on Ukraine took a heavy blow: It announced a troop pullout from the vital Ukrainian city of Kherson on Wednesday, dealing a huge setback to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war effort, NPR reported. Still, the declaration was met with skepticism by Ukraine’s leadership, which had previously warned that Russia could appear to withdraw from Kherson in order to entice Ukrainian forces into battle. The withdrawal comes as Russian troops have criticized an “incomprehensible battle” in Donetsk, claiming severe losses amid a week of intensive fighting in Ukraine’s important eastern region, CNN noted. Meanwhile, US military officials estimate that the Russian army has seen more than 100,000 of its soldiers killed or wounded in Ukraine, adding that Kyiv has possibly sustained a similar level of casualties, Reuters added. Also:

  • Russia and Iran’s security chiefs agreed Wednesday to expand military cooperation between the two countries, cementing relations that have seen Tehran contribute drones to Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal wrote. Officials of both nations pledged to fight so-called Western interference in their countries, and expand economic ties in a mutual effort to evade sanctions. Elsewhere, India also said it will expand economic ties with Russia and continue to buy its oil, noting that imports of discounted crude from Moscow have worked to its advantage, according to Voice of America.
  • In contrast, Ukraine signed a peace treaty with Southeast Asian nations Thursday, a primarily symbolic exercise as Kyiv strives to shore up international support in isolating Russia, the Associated Press said. At the same time, Putin said he will not attend a summit of leaders from the Group of 20 nations in Indonesia next week, CNN reported. Observers opined that Putin’s decision to skip the G20 conference saves him the embarrassment of being addressed – or boycotted – by other world leaders over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has indicated that he is ready for peace talks with Russia, softening his refusal to speak with Moscow as long as Putin is in power, while remaining firm on Kyiv’s key goals, the AP wrote. However, the preconditions listed by the Ukrainian leader late Monday look to be non-starters for Moscow, so it’s difficult to see how Zelenskyy’s latest remarks will advance any discussions, the newswire added.

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