Headlines out of Ukraine – 7 November, 2022

Headlines out of Ukraine – 7 November, 2022

Nothing but confusion coming out of Ukraine.

I suspect all of this is a ruse

White House Held Secret Talks With Putin Aides To Avert US-Russia War

The White House has reportedly held secretive behind-the-scenes dialogue with the Kremlin related to the war in Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal revealed on Sunday, citing unnamed US and allied officials. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spearheaded the secret talks with high-level Russian officials in recent months, reportedly with the aim of reducing the risk of the two nuclear-armed superpowers stumbling into a direct broader conflict. 

“The officials said that U.S. national-security adviser Jake Sullivan has been in contact with Yuri Ushakov, a foreign-policy adviser to Mr. Putin. Mr. Sullivan also has spoken with his direct counterpart in the Russian government, Nikolai Patrushev, the officials added,” according to WSJ.

Image via Georgetown University/Center for New American Security

The aim has been to guard against the risk of escalation and keep communications channels open, and not to discuss a settlement of the war in Ukraine, the officials said.”

Talks between Sullivan and top Russian officials haven’t been disclosed on a public level since March. In response to the WSJ story, the Biden administration neither confirmed nor denied the claims of secret contact between the two sides, with National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson when asked if Sullivan had the conversations replying in a Sunday night statement, “People claim a lot of things.”

Further the report notes, “Several U.S. officials said that Mr. Sullivan is known within the administration as pushing for a line of communication with Russia, even as other top policy makers feel that talks in the current diplomatic and military environment wouldn’t be fruitful.”

The report doesn’t indicate whether the alleged phone calls were positive or led to a lessening of tensions from Washington’s perspective, nor is it known precisely when they took place. US-Moscow relations have hit an all-time historic low in the wake of the Feb.24 invasion of Ukraine, with the two nations’ top diplomats, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, having only spoken once (at least one publicly disclosed conversation) – which was focused on a potential prisoner swap. 

President Biden in an early October media interview appeared to shut the door on the possibility of talks with Putin, saying at the time, “Look, I have no intention of meeting with him. But for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said I want to talk about the release of Griner, I’d meet with him. I mean, it would depend,” he explained.

Left: presidential aide for foreign affairs Yuri Ushakov,

The timing of the new WSJ revelations are interesting, given the report came the day after The Washington post said the White House is now privately urging the Ukrainian government to show openness toward negotiations with Russia. US officials cited in that Saturday report say the onset of a harsh winter, and the fact that Ukraine is already experiencing rolling emergency blackouts due to Russia’s attacks on the energy grid, is likely to make Zelensky amenable to ceasefire talks. 

The US officials believe that Kiev “is attempting to lock in as many military gains as it can before winter sets in, when there might be a window for diplomacy.” But from Russia’s perspective, the unprecedented inflows of US and Western arms to Ukrainian forces, including increasingly advanced and longer range missile systems, has also served to make diplomacy nearly impossible while increasing the risk of direct confrontation with NATO. But is there now hope of new ceasefire talks on the horizon? 

US Privately Telling Ukraine Be Open To Negotiations With Putin

The White House is now privately urging the Ukrainian government to show openness toward negotiations with Russia, The Washington Post reported Saturday. It follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledging to never enter negotiations with Moscow unless Vladimir Putin is removed from power. 

The US administration appears to be trying to nuance the push not as a compromise, but under the optics of ensuring Ukraine “maintains a moral high ground in the eyes of its international backers” as “a calculated attempt to ensure the government in Kyiv maintains the support of other nations facing constituencies wary of fueling a war for many years to come”.

This marks the first reported major admission on the part of the Biden administration that dealing with rising food and fuel costs – also at a moment just ahead of midterm elections in which voters are dreading inflation – is a public priority in the West that is quickly supplanting the question of whether Ukraine will “win”.

Image: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters

The WaPo report indicates the White House is fully cognizant of the growing war “fatique” – also amid increased vocal GOP objections to the ‘blank check’ approach to Ukraine foreign aid

While U.S. officials share their Ukrainian counterparts’ assessment that Putin, for now, isn’t serious about negotiations, they acknowledge that President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ban on talks with him has generated concern in parts of Europe, Africa and Latin America, where the war’s disruptive effects on the availability and cost of food and fuel are felt most sharply.

“Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners,” said one U.S. official who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations between Washington and Kyiv.

US officials cited in the report say the onset of a harsh winter, and the fact that Ukraine is already experiencing rolling emergency blackouts due to Russia’s attacks on the energy grid, is likely to make Zelensky amenable to ceasefire talks. 

The US officials believe that Kiev “is attempting to lock in as many military gains as it can before winter sets in, when there might be a window for diplomacy.”

While over a month ago international headlines were full of positive statements painting an optimistic picture of a rapid and successful Ukrainian counter-advance against the Russians in the east and south, recent weeks have seen this glowing assessment fade as another stalemate on the front lines has set in. Moscow had responded to the major counteroffensive with Putin’s partial mobilization order, which has seen tens of thousands of fresh recruits pour into the theater. 

Regardless of these fresh reports of a quiet effort to get Zelensky to the negotiating table, which is also being reported in Reuters, resistance to the idea remains fierce among hawks in both Washington and Kiev. Also, the official White House position has long remained that the timing of peace talks is entirely up to the Ukrainians. The Post report continues: 

In recent weeks Ukrainian criticism of proposed concessions has grown more pointed, as officials decry “useful idiots” in the West whom they’ve accused of serving Kremlin interests.

“If Russia wins, we will get a period of chaos: flowering of tyranny, wars, genocides, nuclear races,” presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Friday. “Any ‘concessions’ to Putin today — a deal with the Devil. You won’t like its price.”

Even suggesting the possibility of negotiated settlement in public discourse is met with cries of that’s “dangerous” from diehard Ukraine supporters

But for American voters more broadly, there also remains the glaring contradiction of rising cost of living at home, combined with the spectacle of monthly billion dollar foreign handouts to the Ukrainian government, whether it be in the form of arms or humanitarian or budgetary aid.

There have also been recent revelations of US administration frustration with Zelensky, with accusations that he remains ‘ungrateful’ at the tens of billions Washington has already provided for the war effort, given he always asks for more. “Show a little more gratitude…” has been the Biden administration’s private messaging for months.

Kiev preparing plan to evacuate 3 million people – official

The city has been struggling with energy supplies and blackouts are now common
Kiev preparing plan to evacuate 3 million people – official

Authorities in Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, are reportedly working on a contingency plan that anticipates the evacuation of approximately three million of its remaining residents, should power supply become completely cut off, a local official has told The New York Times.

The article published on Saturday quoted Roman Tkachuk, the director of security for the Kiev municipal government, as having warned that the city “may lose our entire electricity system,” if Russia continues striking Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

According to the report, Kiev authorities expect that, if worse comes to worst, they would have at least 12 hours’ notice before the grid collapses completely. Tkachuk explained that if there are signs of imminent failure, “we will start informing people and requesting them to leave.

Should the Ukrainian capital face a total blackout, there would also be no water supply, and the sewage systems would grind to a halt, too, the official warned. He hastened to assure, however, that the situation is currently under control, and there is no exodus of city residents.

With winter approaching, Kiev authorities are preparing some 1,000 heating shelters that can double as bunkers during Russian strikes.

In a bid to prevent uncontrollable failures, Ukraine’s national energy utility has been imposing rolling blackouts in several regions, including the capital, over the past several weeks.

In its statement on Saturday, Ukrenergo explained that the measures were needed to “ensure sustainable balancing of the power system and avoid repeated accidents” affecting the national power grid.

In early October, Moscow launched massive long-range missile and ‘kamikaze drone’ strikes on Ukrainian military, energy and communication facilities. That followed what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a series of “terrorist attacks” masterminded by Kiev on Russian soil, including a truck bombing that damaged the Crimean Bridge, a strategic link connecting the peninsula with the mainland. Such tactics, Putin said, posed a threat to Russia and could not be left without a response.

According to Ukrainian authorities, as much as 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed as a result.

US, NATO believe talks on Ukraine possible if Kiev takes Kherson — newspaper

The article notes that it was no accident that Washington and NATO confirmed sending a batch of anti-drone missiles to Kiev

ROME, November 7. /TASS/. The US and NATO think that launching peace talks on Ukraine would be possible if Kiev takes back Kherson with the battle for it having both strategic and diplomatic significance, La Repubblica wrote on Monday.

According to the paper, Washington is in constant contact with Brussels and its allies on this issue as well as instilling this idea into the mind of the Kiev regime.

The article notes that it was no accident that Washington and NATO confirmed sending a batch of anti-drone missiles to Kiev. The main point is that the return of Kherson, a strategic target from the point of view of gaining sea access and control over water resources may change the course of the conflict and when the city is taken it will be possible to hold negotiations from the position of force. According to the newspaper, this is the first time that the White House allowed for such a specific scenario.

According to the article, this is caused by two aspects. The first one is the alleged threat, however remote, of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons which would require a large-scale response. The second one is China’s expanded influence on Russia. According to the newspaper, a complete defeat of Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin whose regime change is no longer discussed as one of the options would lead to worse consequences for the US such as Russia falling under China’s full control.

That said, it is pointed out that in many ways the political process would depend on the results of US congressional midterm elections. Yet the conflict is entering a new phase due to the “parallel” nature of the Kremlin’s and Washington’s interests, La Repubblica noted. It says that this is confirmed by the US admitting it has been maintaining direct contact with Moscow over months in order to prevent the expansion of the conflict and nuclear escalation.

Ukraine shells Donetsk with US-made HIMARS – mayor

The attack targeted residential areas of the city, leaving several houses heavily damaged or destroyed
Ukraine shells Donetsk with US-made HIMARS – mayor

The Ukrainian military shelled residential areas of Donetsk late on Saturday, heavily damaging or completely destroying multiple houses. According to preliminary information, Kiev’s forces used various rocket artillery in the attack, including US-supplied HIMARS systems, the city’s mayor Alexey Kulemzin said.

Footage from the scene shows several houses destroyed during the late-evening attack. So far, no information on potential casualties among civilians has emerged.

Apart from a M142 HIMARS launcher, which fired at least six projectiles at the city, the Ukrainian military used a Soviet-made BM-21 Grad launcher, with some 20 rockets hitting in the city’s north, Kulemzin said on social media.

The city of Donetsk has been subjected to artillery and missile attacks by the forces of Kiev on an almost daily basis amid the ongoing conflict. While rarely commenting on such activities, Kiev blamed Russian forces, which are in control of the city, for having shelled it themselves.

Donetsk, the capital city of its namesake republic, has recently joined Russia along with three other formerly Ukrainian territories following referendums held in late September. Kiev, as well as its Western backers, have rejected the referendums as “sham” polls, refusing to recognize their outcome.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

Russia Build-up Continues, Sullivan Flies to Kiev Urges Kherson Offensive, Change in Ukraine Stance

Nuclear Blackmail | The shelling of Zaporozhye power plant puts intl safety at risk

The Zaporozhye nuclear plant in Energodar is the largest in Europe. Since March 2022 it has been under Russian control and Zaporozhye Region recently voted in a referendum to join Russia. In the meantime, Kiev continues to attack the plant, putting Europe at risk of a disaster six times bigger than the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Despite IAEA warnings and the referendum, Kiev continues to use the Zaporozhye plant as a blackmail tool. The documentary shows the timeline of the attacks and focuses on potential risks of Ukrainian provocations

The State Duma saw the British trace in the organization of the terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge

State Duma deputy Lugovoi called to check the British intelligence services for involvement in the explosion on the Crimean bridge

В ГД увидели британский след в организации теракта на Крымском мосту

There is a clear British trace in the terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge, British citizen Christopher Nigel Donnelly should be checked for involvement in the explosion at the crossing. This was announced on November 7 by Andrey Lugovoi, First Deputy Head of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption.

“I sent a request to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Igor Krasnov with a request to check the activities of British citizen Christopher Nigel Donnelly for involvement in the terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge. A carefully thought-out plan of a terrorist operation, multi-movement and coordination – everything points to the involvement of Western intelligence agencies acting on the orders of the British government, ”he wrote on Telegram .

Lugovoy added that Donnelly had already proposed “mining the Sevastopol Bay” in 2014 and is now one of the likely participants in the terrorist attack in Crimea.

In addition, the Briton conducts anti-Russian activities. In particular, Lugovoi pointed out, Donnelly became the initiator of the EXPOSE Network project to inspire protest movements in Russia. Also, to combat “Kremlin propaganda and disinformation,” Donnelly established the Institute of Public Administration, launched the Integrity Initiative program.

A part of the Crimean bridge was damaged as a result of a truck explosion on it on October 8 on the automobile part from the side of the Taman Peninsula. As a result, seven fuel tanks of the railway train caught fire, which led to the partial collapse of two car spans. The fire and explosion killed four people .

On October 12, the FSB reported that the explosive device was hidden in rolls with construction polyethylene film on 22 pallets with a total weight of 22,770 kg. The organizer of the terrorist act in the Russian Federation was called the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine , headed by the head Kirill Budanov. On the same day, it became known about the arrest of eight people involved in the attack . Among the defendants are citizens of Russia, Ukraine and Armenia.

As Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Marat Khusnullin said on November 7, the builders have begun transporting the first finished span of the Crimean bridge to the installation site. A metal structure weighing more than 300 tons is transported on a multi-wheeled self-propelled module, he pointed out. On November 8, from 04:00 to 16:00 Moscow time, there will be restrictions on car traffic on the Crimean bridge due to repair and restoration work .

In addition, on November 4, it was reported that until December 11, due to repairs on the Crimean bridge , the Tavria train schedule would change . The changes relate to the passage of the Taman station and stations located on the territory of the Crimean peninsula.

Marat Khusnullin earlier, on November 2, said that the destroyed part of the Crimean bridge would be restored in December . He expressed hope for a full solution to the problem of transport security of the Crimean peninsula.

Indian media is probably fairly balanced

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