German consumers hit by runaway prices

Inflation in the Eurozone’s leading economy, Germany, hit 6.4% in June in annual terms, its first rise since February, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported on Thursday.

  • According to preliminary data, the figure was up from 6.1% in the previous month.

When harmonized to compare with other EU countries, Germany’s inflation rate in June was 6.8% year-on-year.

Food prices have continued to show above-average growth in June compared with the same month of last year, according to Destatis.

  • They rose 13.7%, increasing the burden on struggling consumers.
  • Energy prices were up 3% in June on an annual basis.

According to the report, the federal government’s third relief package has contributed to the slowing of the energy price increase.

The German Council of Economic Experts (GCEE) earlier warned that inflation in the country could remain high for longer than expected, or even accelerate if monetary policy measures are offset by risks in financial markets.

The GCEE said it expects an average inflation rate of 6.6% in 2023.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank (ECB) has hiked interest rates to an unprecedented 4% in an attempt to combat high inflation. ECB President Christine Lagarde has said recently that a further rate increase in July was “very likely.”

Source: RT

Ukraine holding back its Western tanks – WSJ

Kiev is holding back its Western-made tanks and avoiding major attacks on Russian positions after its initial failure to achieve significant battlefield successes during this month’s counteroffensive, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Ukrainian troops “haven’t yet approached” the defenses constructed by Russia, according to the report on Friday.

  • After encountering stiff resistance in prior weeks, “Ukrainian commanders have largely held off sending large infantry formations and Western tanks to assault Russian positions.”

“It’s a very long process – watching, analyzing, over and over,” Volkov told the newspaper. “The enemy is also learning, changing places, hiding underground more.”

As the poor result of the initial push became apparent, some Ukrainian officials pointed the finger at Kiev’s Western backers.

“The time lost in convincing our partners to provide the necessary weapons is reflected in the specific Russian fortifications built during this period, the deeply dug defense line, and the system of minefields,” Mikhail Podoliak, an aide to President Vladimir Zelensky, declared last week.

The Russian military reported last week that it had taken out over 240 Ukrainian tanks before Kiev pulled troops back to regroup.

  • This number includes 13 produced in Western nations, which were meant to give the Ukrainians an edge in the long-promised counteroffensive.

Source RT

Zelensky’s Zugzwang: Ukraine’s ‘blitzkrieg’ strategy has failed, so where does that leave its much-hyped counteroffensive?

The counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), widely hyped by Ukrainian and Western officials since the beginning of the year, has been going on for nearly a month. Since June 4, Kiev’s forces have been trying to advance on the southern section of the frontlines in Zaporozhye Region and in the western part of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The anticipated ‘blitzkrieg’ strategy was not successful and the Ukrainian offensive became stuck in positional warfare, losing a lot of the military equipment provided to it by the West. By the end of June, Kiev managed to occupy a mere eight villages, but was not able to reach the main Russian fortifications.

  • Kiev and its Western partners are now particularly concerned about the planned breakthrough to the Sea of Azov, since the strategic goals of the counteroffensive have failed and the land corridor to Crimea remains under Russian control. So why has Ukraine’s much-hyped operation failed?

How was the current front line formed?

The front line in Zaporozhye Region and the western part of the DPR was formed in the spring of 2022. At that time, Russian troops were able to merge their Crimean units, which captured the cities of Tokmak and Pologi, with the Donbass units to form the ‘Mariupol cauldron’.

Meanwhile, the Russian Army’s attempts to move closer to Zaporozhye and capture the cities of Gulyai-Pole and Orekhov – the AFU’s main strongholds in Zaporozhye Region – were not successful.

To the east, in the area of the Vremyevsky salient, active battles continued until the summer of 2022. On July 14, the DPR territorial defense headquarters confirmed the capture of Neskuchny village south of Vremyevka – the last settlement liberated by the People’s Militia of the DPR in this section of the front.

The strategic importance of this section of the front

  • Even though the Russian Army did not get to Zaporozhye or flank the AFU’s positions in Donbass, the military achievements of last spring and summer were extremely important for Russia.
  • Firstly, Moscow took control of the Crimea-Melitopol-Berdiansk-Mariupol-Rostovskaya highway where the automobile bridge to the Crimea is located. As a result of these efforts, the peninsula became better connected with mainland Russia.
  • Secondly, control over these territories created a buffer zone around Crimea and forced the Ukrainians to retreat from the Sea of Azov, which became completely Russian territory. Also, Moscow was able to build a single front from the mouth of the Dnieper River to the Russian border (as it was in the summer of last year).

This positioning, however, also came with certain vulnerabilities for the Russian troops. If the Ukrainian offensive had been successful and the AFU had broken through to the Sea of Azov, the Russian front would have split into two parts. However complex, the attempt was worth it for Ukraine, since the AFU could have then blocked the Russian Army’s Donbass units and posed a serious threat to Crimea and Sevastopol – the Black Sea Fleet’s main military base.

From offense to defense

Understanding the strategic importance of the area, Russia began transferring units there, which sometimes resulted in losses at other sections of the front. For example, the 35th combined arms army was pulled out of Izium, which contributed to Russia’s retreat from Kharkov Region in September 2022.

From there, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation built a deep line of defense, a task which involved civilian workers. Near Melitopol, it constructed a defense line in two echelons with a forefield and two security zones. Tokmak and the village of Ocherevatoye were prepared for point defense.

Assessing Russia’s defense measures in this area, it’s possible to say that even if the AFU managed to break this line of defense, they would still face many difficulties. Trained Russian reserves would have deployed a counteroffensive and attacked the flanks of the AFU from Kherson Region and the DPR. The terrain would work in favor of the Russian Army – among other things, the troops would rely on Zaporozhye Region’s highest points near Kamysh-Zarya and Rozovka.

Finally, even with the best fortifications, an effective line of defense is impossible without motivated and trained soldiers working side by side with the artillery, intelligence, and aviation. Therefore, the elite units of the 58th Army’s 42nd Motor Rifle Division were placed at the forefront of Russia’s defense in the strategically important Melitopol direction.

Public and media expectations

The Western press was very excited about the AFU’s prospects in Zaporozhye Region. For example, US military “expert” John Deni said the Ukrainians would make use of Western military equipment to easily defeat Russia in their counteroffensive.

The expected battles were presented by the media as a decisive point of the war. This media positioning unsettled the Ukrainian leadership, forcing them to justify the delayed start of the operation and request silence on the matter. However, this situation only unnerved Ukrainian officials, while Ukrainian society, inspired by Western military aid and the numerous promises of politicians, looked forward to imminent success.

In Russia, however, an opposite situation was brewing. Russian society had still not fully recovered from the reversals in Kharkov Region and the retreat from Kherson, taking these events as signs that the military operation was running counter to its original goals. These opinions were pushed by certain people who were politically motivated to criticize the Russian military leadership. Even the victory in Artyomovsk (known as Bakhmut in Ukraine) did not fully raise public morale – many people attributed this success solely to the efforts of the Wagner private military company, and not the regular Russian Army, which would be responsible for blocking Ukraine’s counteroffensive. As a result, Russian society was concerned about the AFU’s forthcoming strike which, in case of success, would increase apathy among Russians and contribute to further demoralization.

Ukraine deploys new brigades

The AFU was expected to involve newly-formed units in the counteroffensive, mostly armed with Western weapons and trained by Western instructors. These brigades were kept in the rear for a long time. Only some units (such as the 46th and 77th brigades formed in the summer) were sent to Artyomovsk where they demonstrated quite effective results.

Other brigades proceeded with their training, taking advantage of the time bought by the blood of the ‘older’ units. For example, the 79th Brigade fought for Maryinka, a suburb of Donetsk, for a year and a half without being rotated. Instead of sending new units over to replace them, the Ukrainian leadership has continued to exploit the fighters to this day.

All this was done in order to keep the fresh units strong and ready for the counteroffensive against Russia. Ukraine hoped that the new brigades would ensure its victorious march to the Sea of Azov, and this would mean not only the victory of Kiev over Moscow, but also the triumph of Western weapons and military training.

However, these hopes did not materialize.

The Vremyevsky salient – the most vulnerable section of defense

  • On June 4, Ukraine launched its counteroffensive with a distracting (later to become the main) strike on the Vremyevsky salient. Apparently, this was intended to pull out the Russian Army’s reserves and draw them into battle in this area. These attacks continued for several days but were unsuccessful.

During the second attack on June 10, Ukraine’s army acted more effectively, and by June 13, Russia retreated from the villages of Novodarovka, Neskuchnoye, Storozhevoye, Blagodatnoye, and Makarovka. On June 26, the Ukrainians took control of Rovnopol and some positions in the fields on the way to Novodonetsky and Priyutnoye.

In the course of three weeks of fighting, the AFU captured six villages, which were all evacuated ahead of time. It should be noted that the Vryemyevsky salient was initially extremely inconvenient for Russian defense – surrounded by Ukrainian forces from the flanks, it also had the Mokriye Yaly River flowing through the center of Russian positions. As a result, Moscow’s forces could rely only on several heights on the flanks.

However, even with the terrain acting in its favor, the AFU did not achieve much success.

The insignificant advance came at a great price – Western equipment was destroyed and indirect data shows that the enemy suffered significant casualties.

  • Nevertheless, Kiev’s breakthrough attempts continue. Presently, the AFU is stuck against Russian defenses in Staromayorsky and Urozhaynoye, and hopes to outflank them, which only brings them closer to more fortified positions.

‘Safari’ near Orekhov and Ukraine’s media defeat

On June 7, the AFU started moving in the direction of Melitopol. Initially, this was the task of the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade, a unit which had earlier suffered many casualties. Going in the direction of Vasilevka, the brigade tried to occupy the village of Lobkovo.

The next day, the AFU launched an offensive supposedly headed by the 47th Mechanized Brigade and armed with the new German Leopard tanks.

  • This attack ended badly for the Ukrainians – the operation failed, Western equipment was destroyed, and Russia published damaging video footage which went viral online.

The Ukrainian online resource DeepState, which shows a live map of the war, temporarily closed the comments section and later published an “uncomfortable analysis” of the events, slamming Ukrainian officials and politicians who claimed that their army had not launched a counteroffensive yet.

  • According to Ukrainian political observers, the behavior of the officials devalued the lives of the country’s soldiers.

On June 10, the mounting pressure forced Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to confirm the start of the counteroffensive and the losses, long before having any newsworthy success to demonstrate to the public. Ukraine’s strategy usually involved keeping its actions secret until the public and the press could be presented with attractive evidence of Ukrainian victories. This time, however, the footage of scorched Leopards forced Ukraine to break the rule.

Ongoing battles south of Orekhov

Subsequently, Ukraine managed to achieve certain success in this direction. Increased pressure on the front forced the Russian Army to retreat from two other villages – Lobkovoe and Pyatikhatka, where lengthy battles took place. Presently, the Russian Army is holding its defensive positions near the village of Zherebyanka.

To the east, the AFU was able to advance through the fields in the direction of the village of Rabotino, which is on the road from Orekhov to Tokmak. Both sides have suffered losses but Ukraine is also losing a vital asset – time – as the pace of the counteroffensive slows down.

Moreover, the Russian Air Force is constantly attacking UFU warehouses and staging areas. All this increases the costs of the counteroffensive and makes the Ukrainian Army’s ultimate success even less likely.

Ukraine’s broken hopes for a fast-paced war

The series of defeats has disappointed Ukrainian society, which was counting on a fast-paced operation and a breakthrough on the front. Every two weeks, Ukrainian journalist Roman Shrike polls his Telegram subscribers on the estimated duration of the war.

On June 15, the option that the war will continue for ‘more than another year’ received over 50% of votes for the first time.

Propagandist Aleksey Arestovich noted that Ukraine’s success in Kharkov Region is an exception to the rule and cannot be repeated over and over again. He described the fighting in Zaporozhye Region as “a bloody fight accompanied by losses on both sides”. In order for Ukraine’s next offensive to be more successful, Arestovich says the country needs Western planes.

  • Meanwhile, ordinary Ukrainians, some of whom were forced to become refugees while others lost their jobs or were forcibly conscripted, see that the current situation – in which the country is growing poorer by the day and people risk danger daily – can last for many more years.

All this greatly strains society, which sees no quick victory ahead. At the same time, several cities, including a major part of Kiev, have announced a general mobilization on behalf of their regional councils. General mobilization in Ukraine has already been in effect since February 24, 2022, but these new statements demonstrate a new desperation. Of particular concern is the order for everyone liable for military duty to come to military enlistment offices, regardless of whether they have personally received a summons.

Western pressure meant that Zelensky was obliged to make a move, in the full knowledge that his hand was weak. Thus, he was like a chess player faced with a Zugzwang.

Source: Vladislav Ugolny – RT

Ukraine’s ‘failure’ a big problem for Biden – Seymour Hersh

Ukraine’s foundering counteroffensive will mark a major embarrassment for the White House, Pulitzer-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has argued, suggesting President Joe Biden’s hardline support for Kiev could cost him the next election.

Writing in his latest Substack article on Thursday, Hersh outlined the progress of Ukraine’s offensive operations, claiming it would need a “miracle” to reverse Russian gains after Moscow took “total control” of the Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye regions.

While a short-lived rebellion by Russia’s Wagner Group last weekend offered a brief distraction from “Ukraine’s failing counter-offensive,” Hersh went on to argue that Kiev is heading for “disaster.”

He said this could be politically damaging for Biden, who will seek to sell Ukraine as a foreign policy success as he campaigns for re-election in 2024.

“It may be prudent for Joe Biden to talk straight about the war, and its various problems for America – and to explain why the estimated more than $150 billion that his administration has put up thus far turned out to be a very bad investment,” the journalist added.

Pointing to battlefield statistics and other information provided by US intelligence sources, Hersh claimed that Kiev had reclaimed only 44 square miles of territory since launching its counteroffensive in early June, “much of it open land.”

He said at the current pace, Kiev would need 117 years to completely repel Russian forces, attributing the figure to an unnamed official.

  • Ukraine’s defense minister, Aleksey Reznikov, has acknowledged the slow progress of the counteroffensive, but told the Financial Times this week that the operations so far were merely a “preview,” saying Kiev had yet to deploy the bulk of its Western-trained reserves.

While Ukraine and its Western backers insist victory is still on the table, Hersh said Biden’s “overall foreign policy may be at risk” should Kiev fail to deliver results on the battlefield.

  • The journalist urged Democrats to take the “looming disaster” in Ukraine as a “wake-up call” as they enter the 2024 race, noting the president’s waning approval numbers.

The Russian Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said that the repeated pushes by Kiev’s troops have failed to breach the Russian defenses and gain any significant ground.

  • Moreover, multiple German-made Leopard 2 heavy tanks and US-made Bradley combat vehicles were either destroyed or abandoned on the battlefield. Videos shared by Russian and Ukrainian sources this month show Ukrainian soldiers bogged down and retreating due to minefields and artillery fire.

Source: RT

Wagner insurrection: Western states should be careful what they wish for

One question puzzles me about the unrestrained glee with which Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s armed rebellion has been reported in Europe and the US. Which side are they rooting for?

  • Is it the tsar who invaded Ukraine under the delusion that his tanks would be greeted as liberators by Russian speakers? Or is it the catering billionaire whose mercenaries have terrorised Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic and Mali, and whose brutality makes Blackwater (on which the Wagner Group is modelled) look like a model of restraint?
  • Or do they want civil war to break out and the Russian Federation to break apart?
  • There is a fourth option, which I guarantee will not take place in at least a generation: that Russian President Vladimir Putin is replaced by another Boris Yeltsin simulacrum, such as, for instance, the imprisoned, Alexei Navalny.

It was the West’s total support for Yeltsin, and the collapse of Russia under him, that led to Putin’s rise in the first place. It’s a conveniently forgotten fact that Putin was Yeltsin’s appointee as prime minister at a time when Russia was rocked by warring oligarchs. Putin owes his rise to power to The Family, not to the KGB.

By total support, I have this in mind: the last time armed conflict broke out on the streets of Moscow was in 1993.

It was called a constitutional crisis between a Soviet hangover body, the Congress of People’s Deputies, and the presidency, but it was solved with tank fire.

Yeltsin ordered tanks to fire at the Russian White House. He had supreme difficulty finding tank crews to do this, and even when the guns were trained on the building in central Moscow, the crews were reluctant to fire on fellow Russians, let alone parliamentarians who refused to quit their chambers. They had to be prompted by snipers from the presidential bodyguard shooting at their own men.

Putin’s powers

When it was all over and the White House was a burned-out shell, many more bodies were taken from the building than were admitted in the official death toll. They were collected and taken away at night to a stadium behind the US embassy, which had a front-row view of everything that happened on that Sunday.

  • Nothing was said. The Economist ran a cover with the heading “A necessary evil”. After these bloody events, a new constitution transferred all executive powers to the presidency and created a much weaker, rubber-stamp parliament.

These changes formed the bedrock of the powers that Putin enjoys today. When these powers were first unveiled and debated, the West acted as their apologist, as it did for everything that happened under Yeltsin’s presidency.

Yeltsin himself had nightmares about what he did. He was depressed, drank and tried to take his own life, according to what his former bodyguard, Alexandr Korzhakov, told me.

The fear of civil war runs deep in Russia, but the prospect of the breakup of the Russian Federation has always been on the agenda of the neocon right, because nothing is ever enough for them. The breakup of the Soviet Union was unfinished business. There is a large body of US, Polish and now Ukrainian opinion that says Russia must be “cut down to size” after the war is over.

This is mirrored by the NATO generals who say that the Russian armed forces should never again become strong enough to mount another adventure on this scale.

  • The Pentagon hovers between pragmatist and maximalist positions. It recognised the dangers of civil war last weekend and what could have happened to the command and control of Russia’s huge nuclear stockpile; and Washington also passed messages to Putin that it had nothing to do with Prigozhin’s uprising.

This was aimed at de-escalation. So too was the US advice to Ukraine not to mount covert raids into Russia while the mutiny was going on.

But then, US intelligence sources leaked to the New York Times that Prigozhin had more support in the military than Putin now claims.

They said that General Sergei Surovikin, variously known as the “butcher of Syria” and “General Armageddon”, the hardman who Putin brought in to lead the Ukraine campaign but later demoted when little was achieved, had advance knowledge of the rebellion.

  • Surovikin has since been detained in an ongoing purge, which is curious because Prigozhin is thus far, free.

Prigozhin’s ‘masterclass’

This is all intended to weaken Putin and encourage splits in the Russian military. Is this necessarily a wise thing to do?

Because it’s hard to make a case for Prigozhin.

  • A former convict, hotdog vendor and billionaire catering chef turned boss of a private army with global reach, Prigozhin is a typical rags-to-riches creation of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

At least before his attempted insurrection, Wagner had become so big that it wielded all the power of a KGB directorate with none of the constraints, training or institutional discipline. If this were 19th-century Russia, Prigozhin would play the role of a muzhik – a plain-speaking peasant, despised and revered in equal measure by the educated, French-speaking urban elite, for somehow representing the soul of Russia.

His antics on Saturday were superficially attractive to a western audience. Wagner embarrassed the regular army. Prigozhin said his troops gave regular soldiers a “masterclass”. They took over Rostov-on-Don, the Centcom of the Russian war effort in Ukraine, and were greeted as heroes by the local population. “In Russian towns, civilians met us with Russian flags and the symbols of Wagner,” Prigozhin said.

He also had his supporters. Andrei Kartapolov, chairman of the Russian parliament’s defence committee, said Wagner fighters who took over the army headquarters “did not do anything reprehensible”.

  • “They didn’t offend anyone, they didn’t break anything,” he said. (In fact, they shot down six helicopters and a command-and-control aircraft.) “No one has the slightest claim against them – neither the residents of Rostov, nor the military personnel of the Southern Military District, nor the law enforcement agencies.”

Prigozhin further embarrassed Putin by contradicting the official reason for the Ukraine invasion. He said it had nothing to do with an existential threat to the Russian state and that the Russian war effort has been plagued by incompetence.

But if the Wagner columns had gone all the way to Red Square unopposed, and the National Guard had joined the insurrection, would that have meant an end to the war in Ukraine? Far from it. Prigozhin would have been lauded by ultra-nationalists as the man to finish the job and not be afraid to use tactical nukes to do it.

State propaganda

This brings us back to Putin, who does not represent a fixed point in the ideological stakes. He has shimmied from privatiser and Yeltsin loyalist, to a president keen to rub shoulders with former US President George W Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to a disgruntled nationalist, to a messianic restorer of Russia’s lost 18th-century empire.

His team of licensed pundits has accompanied him on this long journey. Most of the politicians and pundits wheeled out to shock a western audience – Dmitry Medvedev; Sergei Markov; Dmitri Kiselyov; Vitaly Naumkin; Sergei Karaganov; Fyodor Lukyanov – held radically different views about the West in the 1990s, when I first came across them as a correspondent in Russia. They appear to have sold themselves, body and soul, to Putin.

Medvedev would not have said there were no moral limits to stop Moscow from destroying undersea cables anytime when he was president. Quite the contrary, Medvedev was seen as suspiciously pro-western by Russia’s hawks.

Under his watch, Russia abstained from the UN resolution that paved the way for the invasion of Libya and the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, a move bitterly criticised by the hardliners. This debacle laid the foundations for Russia’s plans to return to the Middle East by intervening in Syria.

Kiselyov, a Channel One anchor, would not have suggested anytime in the 1990s that in retaliation for supporting Ukraine, Britain should be wiped out by a nuclear tsunami caused by the detonation of a Poseidon underwater drone off the coast of Lancashire.

Karaganov would not have written an article, clearly intended for a US audience, that Russia should lower its nuclear threshold. Karaganov argued that only by breaking the West’s will to maintain “its puppet regime” in Kyiv could Russia free itself from a yoke that has lasted five centuries.

“By pushing the West towards a catharsis and thus its elites towards abandoning their striving for hegemony, we will force them to back down before a global catastrophe occurs, thus avoiding it. Humanity will get a new chance for development.”

The war in Ukraine will drag on for years and no decisive victory will be achieved without breaking western will, he added: “Therefore, it is necessary to arouse the instinct of self-preservation that the West has lost and convince it that its attempts to wear Russia out by arming Ukrainians are counterproductive for the West itself. We will have to make nuclear deterrence a convincing argument again by lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons set unacceptably high, and by rapidly but prudently moving up the deterrence-escalation ladder.”

  • Preemptive strike

Karaganov is no stranger to this subject, having studied nuclear strategy for much of his life. He counted about two dozen steps up the nuclear ladder, of which the first has already been taken by moving strategic rocket forces to Belarus.

He said things might get to the point where Moscow advises Russians to leave western capitals “that may become targets for strikes in countries that provide direct support to the puppet regime in Kyiv. The enemy must know that we are ready to deliver a preemptive strike in retaliation for all of its current and past acts of aggression, in order to prevent a slide into global thermonuclear war.”

  • Karaganov concedes that this would create problems for China, but not in their hearts: “If Russia delivered a nuclear strike, the Chinese would condemn it, but they would also rejoice at heart that a powerful blow has been dealt to the reputation and position of the United States.”

Is this a bluff, or the path Putin himself could take? No-one except Putin knows.

Which leads, finally, to the counter-offensive in Ukraine. Some time before the counter-offensive was launched, a British diplomat came to Ankara to sound out Turkish policy. He gave a curiously upbeat briefing to journalists and former Turkish diplomats.

He said the Russians were taking heavy casualties and running out of ammunition. There was frustration on the Russian side, and at the same time, the Ukrainians seemed to him to be shaping up to have “a real go” at a counter-offensive. It was as if he was describing the Second Test at Lords.

  • A former Turkish diplomat listening to him was more downbeat: “Russia can go on and on. This will affect Turkey in a very negative way. A battered Russia is good for Turkey; a broken Russia is bad. Turkey is pragmatic. Everything around us is falling apart.”

Ukraine quagmire

The British diplomat’s gung-ho briefing was mirrored by similarly optimistic assessments from military commentators. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commanding officer of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, said Russian defences would be nothing more than a “speed bump” on the way to Ukraine liberating Crimea. The Challenger 2 tank would cut through Russian lines like a knife through butter, the former tank commander asserted.

  • It has not felt like that. Ukrainian advances have been measured in hundreds of metres. They have taken heavy casualties, as have the Russians, but the lines themselves have not moved.

Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister, told the Financial Times that the main event has yet to happen. We will see.

At the Ankara meeting, former Turkish diplomats challenged the whole notion of “breaking through” Russian lines. Would not a more apt analogy be a sponge of defences that reforms after each attack?

The options for the Ukraine war are all bad.

An ultra-nationalist such as Prigozhin in power in the Kremlin would be a disaster for the region, but not as big of one as the break-up of the Russian Federation.

If the Russian lines hold by the onset of winter, we will inevitably see arguments emerging in Germany, France and Washington about the wisdom of continuing the war into a third year, and rifts growing between them and Poland and Kyiv.

  • Putin could by then well be in a stronger position than he is today, producing greater quantities of cheaper ammunition than the western military industrial complex can. That would translate into a stronger position at the negotiating table, which is the only place this is going to end.
  • If Ukrainian forces do break through Russian lines and approach Crimea, we should all pray that Putin does not reach for Karaganov’s solution.

As for regime change in Moscow, the US and Europe should be careful what they wish for.

  • The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Source: David Hearst – MEM

Hundreds die in Ethiopia after West pauses food aid

Food shortages in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region have resulted in the deaths of at least 700 people, according to the Tigray Disaster Risk Management Commission.

The US and UN recently cut off food aid to one-sixth of the country’s population due to allegations of massive aid theft.

In March, the West suspended food aid to the region after discovering cases of wheat for the needy being stolen. The suspension was extended to the rest of Ethiopia in early June and affected 20 million people in need, with US officials saying they found large amounts of food aid for sale in local markets.

So far, 728 famine-related deaths have been recorded by the Commission in the region since the suspension in March.

That number includes 350 starvation deaths in the northwestern part of Tigray, where thousands of displaced people are situated following a two-year conflict that ended last November.

  • On June 14, the UN said the number of children admitted to hospitals in Tigray due to hunger rose by 196% between April 2022 and April 2023.

Political economist Yared Zeleke told RT on Wednesday that it is “a political issue, not a humanitarian one.” He believes there is a “game being played” by the donor governments, explaining that it is “nothing new” that aid is looted, but most of the time a blind eye is turned.

“The people who need aid need to be supported…and then at the same time the aid money should not be used as a political tool or to enrich corrupt officials,” he said.


Source: RT

Millions in UK facing hunger – survey

One in seven people in the UK faced hunger last year due to a lack of money, research by food bank charity the Trussell Trust revealed on Wednesday.

The survey said this equated to an estimated 11.3 million people, which is more than double Scotland’s population.

  • Ethnic minorities, disabled people and carers were among those most affected, with researchers linking food insecurity to the cost-of-living crisis in the UK that is showing little sign of abating.

The Trussell Trust runs more than 1,200 food banks across its network, which is around two-thirds of the UK total. The charity said it provided a record 3 million food parcels in the year to March, a 37% surge and more than double the amount delivered five years ago. It added that the latest findings were “just the tip of the iceberg.”

  • About 7% of Britain’s population was provided with charitable food support in the year to mid-2022, while 71% of people facing food shortages said they had not yet accessed any such support.
  • “Food banks are not the answer when people are going without the essentials in one of the richest economies in the world. We need a social security system which provides protection and the dignity for people to cover their own essentials, such as food and bills,” Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said.

UK households are facing the biggest two-year squeeze in living standards since records began in the 1950s, as spiraling inflation eats away at pay growth for workers in almost all sectors of the economy.

“This consistent upward trajectory exposes that it is weaknesses in the social security system that are driving food bank need, rather than just the pandemic or cost-of-living crisis,” the report said.

Food inflation in the world’s sixth-largest economy was running at 18.3% in May and 14.6% in June, according to the most recent official data.

Consumer price growth in Britain remains persistently high despite government efforts to tame inflation, with officials and trade unions accusing supermarkets of “greedflation” and profiteering at the expense of consumers.

Source: RT

Washington reportedly sees an “urgent need” to enhance Ukraine’s capabilities amid its stalled counteroffensive

The US might approve sending Ukraine long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing American and European officials.

The White House feels it must urgently boost Kiev’s military capabilities, the outlet said, weeks into a much-touted Ukrainian counteroffensive which has thus far failed to yield any big gains.

  • Capable of striking targets as far as 300 kilometers (190 miles) away, ATACMS are capable of hitting facilities deep inside Russia. The missiles can be launched from US-made HIMARS launchers, which have already been supplied to Kiev by Washington.

The US has so far been reluctant to provide the longer-range munitions to Ukraine out of concern for possible escalation of the fighting.

  • Last July, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that President Joe Biden’s administration would never supply Ukraine with such weapons as they could provoke a wider conflict if used to attack Russian territory.
  • Officials now say that the issue is “pending approval at the highest levels,” according to the WSJ. Both American and European sources told the newspaper that the White House might change its position on the matter.

The European officials also said they had been pressing the US privately on the need for longer-range missiles for Ukraine.

  • A senior Ukrainian defense official told the WSJ that Kiev had received “positive signs” on the issue in recent weeks. Certain variants of the ATACMS can strike any targets on the territory of the Crimean Peninsula and as far as the Russian city of Voronezh located more than 240 kilometers from the nearest border with Ukraine.

In early June, a group of US lawmakers urged Biden to provide even more advanced weaponry to Ukraine, including the ATACMS. The bipartisan group, led by Representative Jason Crow (D-Colorado), dismissed concerns that such weapons could escalate the conflict or leave US missile supplies too depleted.

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh has said that Kiev’s inability to penetrate Russia’s defenses should serve as a “wake-up call” for the US. America’s estimated $150 billion military aid package for Ukraine “turned out to be a very bad investment,” the veteran journalist has argued, adding that the Ukrainian military might need more than a century to take back the territories newly-acquired by Russia, if its offensive continues at the current pace.

Source: RT

‘Record’ number of arrests made during unrest in France – Le Figaro

More than 400 people have been detained in France on the third night of riots sparked by a fatal police shooting, several news organizations reported, citing sources in the Interior Ministry.

A total of 421 arrests were made, including 242 in the Paris area, according to reports from the early hours of Friday. Most of the detainees are between 14 and 18 years old, newspaper Le Figaro said.

“The record number of arrests reflect the firm orders issued by the minister to prefects and law enforcement agencies,” a source was quoted as saying by Le Figaro.

  • The reports came after additional 5,000 police officers, as well as heavily armed tactical units and armored vehicles, were deployed to quell violent protests and riots, which erupted on Tuesday evening in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris, and have since spread to other cities.

Around 6,200 people, including 1,000 “troublemakers,” participated in protests in Nanterre alone, BFM TV reported, citing the Paris Police Prefecture.

  • People initially took to the streets to voice outrage after a 17-year-old man, identified as Nahel M., was killed by an officer during a traffic stop. The peaceful demonstrations quickly spiraled into violence, with rioters burning cars, shooting fireworks and throwing Molotov cocktails at police.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the shooting of the young man, while the officer who fired the shot was charged with homicide.

Source: RT

Trump: ‘Time for the US to mediate peace between Russia and Ukraine’

Former US President Donald Trump on Thursday told the Reuters news agency in an interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been “somewhat weakened” by an aborted mutiny and that now is the time for the United States to try to broker a negotiated peace settlement between Russia and Ukraine.

“I want people to stop dying over this ridiculous war,” Trump said in the interview.

On Ukraine, Trump did not rule out that the Kyiv government might have to concede some territory to Russia in order to stop the war, which began with Russian forces invading Ukraine 16 months ago. He said everything would be “subject to negotiation”, if he were president, but that Ukrainians who have waged a vigorous fight to defend their land have “earned a lot of credit.”

“I think they would be entitled to keep much of what they’ve earned and I think that Russia likewise would agree to that. You need the right mediator, or negotiator, and we don’t have that right now,” Trump told Reuters.

“I think the biggest thing that the U.S. should be doing right now is making peace – getting Russia and Ukraine together and making peace. You can do it,” the former President said. “This is the time to do it, to get the two parties together to force peace.”

As President, Trump developed friendly relations with Putin. In Thursday’s interview, Trump opined that Putin had been damaged by last weekend’s uprising by the Wagner Group and its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

If Putin were no longer in power, however, “you don’t know what the alternative is. It could be better, but it could be far worse,” Trump told Reuters.

Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine got underway, Trump described Putin’s actions in Ukraine as “genius” and “pretty savvy.”

After coming under fire for the remarks, Trump clarified his comments at CPAC 2022 and said, “The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling. We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God bless them all.”

  • Trump did say he thinks that Putin is “smart” but also that American and NATO leaders are dumb. He opined that President Joe Biden’s weakness and the failures in the Afghanistan withdrawal are what prompted Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

“Nobody could ever believe how bad and weak and grossly incompetent he has been. And when you have a weak president who is not respected by other nations, you have a very chaotic world,” said Trump. “And the world hasn’t been this chaotic since World War II.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

“Ukrainians can’t break through our defenses” – Chechen commander

Ukraine’s much-heralded attack has not been able to breach any of the Russian defensive lines, but Kiev keeps sending men to their deaths, the commander of the Chechen special force ‘Akhmat’, Apty Alaudinov, told Russia 1 TV on Thursday.

  • “The picture we see is that the enemy, having reached our first line of defense, can’t advance through it. We warned them about this. They realistically do not have the forces and resources, for all that they’ve built them up, to break through our three echelons,” Alaudinov said on the ‘60 Minutes’ evening news show.
  1. “Let them waste [their people], as they planned, to the last Ukrainian. They only make things worse for themselves. The realistic result, I’ve always said, will be the same. We will definitely win this battle,” he added.

Later, on his Telegram channel, Alaudinov repeated that Ukrainian forces “did not even pass our first line of defense in any sector.” While Kiev’s troops have “temporarily occupied” some patches of land here and there, none of those positions pose a strategic threat, he maintained.

Alaudinov also downplayed the small Ukrainian presence near the destroyed Antonovsky Bridge in Kherson, calling it a public relations stunt without any significant military results – but at the cost of high casualties as Russian forces “systematically destroy them.”

The Ukrainian offensive, which was originally supposed to begin in the spring, kicked off on June 4 on the southern front. Kiev had hoped for a battlefield victory ahead of the July 11 NATO summit in Lithuania.

A series of company-sized attacks ran into minefields, artillery fire, attack helicopters and dug-in infantry and tanks.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Kiev’s losses as “catastrophic,” and ten times greater than Moscow’s.

In the three weeks of heavy fighting, Kiev’s forces have suffered upwards of 13,000 casualties, along with hundreds of tanks and other armored vehicles, many supplied by the West.

Aleksey Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, acknowledged on Wednesday that the fighting is “hard work” and asked the West to have patience.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky admitted that his troops had encountered “very tough resistance” on the ground. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov has tried to present the attacks as a “preparation operation,” and not the offensive itself.

Source: RT

Greta Thunberg offers Ukraine ‘professional help’

Climate activist Greta Thunberg met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on Thursday, as part of a proposal to form a “working group” on environmental damage caused by the conflict.

Thunberg, 20, visited the presidential palace in the company of former Swedish Deputy PM Margot Wallstroem, European Parliament VP Heidi Hautala, and former Irish President Mary Robinson.

“We need your professional help,” Zelensky told the Western activists, thanking them for the “compact of very concretic [sic] steps” that sends “a very important signal of supporting Ukraine.”

  • Thunberg accused Russia of “deliberately targeting the environment and people’s livelihoods and homes. And therefore also destroying lives. Because this is after all a matter of people.”

According to AP, the proposed working group wants to evaluate the environmental damage from the conflict, start efforts to restore Ukraine’s ecology, and formulate “mechanisms to hold Russia accountable.”

Earlier this month, at the start of Ukraine’s all-out offensive, the Kakhovka Dam on the Dnieper River collapsed, causing widespread flooding in Russian territory. The dam’s destruction also drained the reservoir that provided water to Crimea and helped cool the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (ZNPP), Europe’s largest such facility. Kiev and Moscow have blamed each other for the disaster. Ukraine has previously used US-supplied rockets to bomb the dam.

Zelensky has also claimed that Russia intends to blow up the Zaporozhye plant in order to create a nuclear disaster. Moscow has rejected his accusations as “yet another lie,” while the International Atomic Energy Agency denied Kiev’s insinuations that the ZNPP cooling pond had been rigged with explosives.

Russia has accused Ukraine of plotting a “false flag” attack on the ZNPP so it could blame Moscow and create a pretext for NATO intervention in the conflict. The Zaporozhye plant, under Russian control since March 2022, has repeatedly come under Ukrainian artillery attack. In September last year, before the IAEA mission arrived, Kiev sent a commando unit to capture the facility, but the attack failed.

Thunberg gained overnight fame in 2018, as a 15-year-old who began boycotting school in protest over climate change. In a since-deleted tweet, she famously predicted the end of the world due to global warming by June 2023.

Source: RT

Russia’s strike on Kramatorsk eliminates two Ukrainian generals, 50 officers — top brass

Two Ukrainian generals and up to 50 officers along with about 20 foreign mercenaries and military advisers were eliminated in Russia’s strike on the Kiev forces’ deployment site in Kramatorsk, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov reported on Thursday.

  • “According to the updated information, a June 27 precision strike on the temporary deployment site of the Ukrainian army’s 56th motorized infantry brigade in the city of Kramatorsk eliminated two generals, up to fifty officers of the Ukrainian armed forces and also up to twenty foreign mercenaries and military advisers who participated in a staff meeting,” the spokesman said.

Ukrainian troops continue offensive attempts in three directions

Ukrainian troops continue attempts to advance in three directions, Konashenkov said.

  • “In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian armed formations continued attempts to advance in the Donetsk, Krasny Liman and south Donetsk directions,” the spokesman said.

Russian forces destroy over 25 Ukrainian troops in Kupyansk area over past day

Russian forces destroyed over 25 Ukrainian troops in the Kupyansk area in the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “In the Kupyansk direction, operational/tactical and army aircraft and artillery of the western battlegroup struck the Ukrainian army’s manpower and equipment in areas near the settlements of Sinkovka and Krasnoye Pervoye in the Kharkov Region. Over 25 Ukrainian personnel, three motor vehicles, an Akatsiya self-propelled artillery system, a D-30 howitzer and a Grad multiple rocket launcher were destroyed,” the spokesman said.

Russian forces eliminate 65 Ukrainian troops in Krasny Liman area over past day

Russian forces eliminated roughly 65 Ukrainian troops and neutralized an enemy subversive group in the Krasny Liman area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “In the Krasny Liman direction, forces of the battlegroup Center, air strikes, artillery and heavy flamethrower fires inflicted damage on units of the Ukrainian army’s 21st, 42nd and 67th mechanized brigades in areas near the settlements Nevskoye, Kremennaya and Chervonaya Dibrova in the Lugansk People’s Republic. Near the settlement of Kuzmino in the Lugansk People’s Republic, the activity of a Ukrainian subversive/reconnaissance group was thwarted,” the spokesman said.

In all, Russian forces eliminated as many as 65 Ukrainian personnel, two armored combat vehicles, two pickup trucks, two D-30 howitzers and two Gvozdika motorized artillery systems in the Krasny Liman direction in the past 24 hours, the general reported.

  • Ukraine’s military sustains 530 casualties in Donetsk area over past day

Russian forces killed and wounded about 530 Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “In the Donetsk direction, four enemy attacks were successfully repelled by skilled and courageous actions of units from the southern battlegroup near the settlements of Belogorovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic and Tonenkoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic. The Ukrainian army’s casualties in that area during the battles amounted to 530 personnel killed and wounded,” the spokesman said.

Russian forces also destroyed a Ukrainian tank, two infantry fighting vehicles, five motor vehicles, Msta-B and D-20 howitzers, the general specified.

  • “In addition, an ammunition depot of the Ukrainian army’s 54th mechanized brigade was destroyed near the settlement of Viyemka in the Donetsk People’s Republic,” he said.

Russian forces repel Ukrainian attack at Vremevka bulge in DPR

Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian attack at the Vremevka bulge in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “At the Vremevka bulge in the south Donetsk direction, an attack by Ukrainian army units was repulsed by artillery and heavy flamethrower fires of the battlegroup East near the settlement of Staromayorskoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic,” the spokesman said.

Russian forces wipe out Ukrainian ammo depot in DPR

Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot in the Donetsk People’s Republic over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “In the area of the settlement of Viyemka in the Donetsk People’s Republic, an ammunition depot of the Ukrainian army’s 10th mountain assault brigade was destroyed,” the spokesman said.

During the last 24-hour period, operational/tactical and army aircraft, missile troops and artillery of the Russian groupings of forces struck 85 Ukrainian artillery units at firing positions, manpower and military hardware in 102 areas, the general reported.

Russian forces destroy 135 Ukrainian troops in south Donetsk, Zaporozhye areas

Russian forces destroyed roughly 135 Ukrainian troops in the south Donetsk and Zaporozhye areas over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “The enemy’s losses in those directions in the past 24 hours amounted to 135 Ukrainian personnel, two armored combat vehicles, four motor vehicles, three D-20 howitzers, Msta-B and D-30 howitzers and a Gvozdika motorized artillery system,” the spokesman said.

Russian forces strike Ukrainian army brigade in Zaporozhye area

Russian forces delivered a strike on amassed Ukrainian troops and equipment in the Zaporozhye area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “In the Zaporozhye direction, Russian forces delivered a strike against amassed manpower and equipment of the 106th territorial defense brigade near the settlement of Lugovskoye in the Zaporozhye Region,” the spokesman said.

Russian forces wipe out Ukrainian ammo depot in Kherson area

Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot in the Kherson area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “Near the settlement of Kizomys, an ammunition depot of the 123rd territorial defense brigade was destroyed,” the spokesman said.

In all, Russian forces destroyed as many as 40 Ukrainian personnel, six motor vehicles and a Msta-B howitzer in the Kherson direction in the past 24 hours, the general reported.

Russian forces destroy two US-made radars in Ukraine operation

Russian forces destroyed two US-made counter-battery radar stations in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Kharkov Region over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “In areas near the settlements of Vasiltsovka in the Kharkov Region and Peschanoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic, two US-made AN/TPQ-50 counter-battery radar stations were destroyed,” the spokesman said.

Russian air defenses intercept two HIMARS rockets, HARM anti-radar missile
Russian air defense forces intercepted two rockets of the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system and a HARM anti-radar missile and shot down 11 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

  • “During the last 24-hour period, air defense capabilities intercepted two rockets of the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system and a HARM anti-radiation missile,” the spokesman said.

In addition, Russian air defense systems destroyed 11 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in areas near the settlements of Ivanovka in the Kharkov Region, Volodino and Yevgenovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Golikovo in the Lugansk People’s Republic and Novaya Zburyevka in the Kherson Region, the general reported.

In all, the Russian Armed Forces have destroyed 444 Ukrainian warplanes, 240 helicopters, 4,823 unmanned aerial vehicles, 426 surface-to-air missile systems, 10,402 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 1,133 multiple rocket launchers, 5,269 field artillery guns and mortars and 11,276 special military motor vehicles since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine, Konashenkov reported.

Source: TASS

Israel explains why it’s against Iron Dome deliveries to Ukraine

Israel is concerned that if Kiev is provided with cutting-edge Iron Dome air defense systems, the weapons could end up finding their way to Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview released on Thursday.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu said that Israel has so far refrained from joining Western efforts to arm Kiev because its situation is drastically different from that of Ukraine’s other backers.

The prime minister said that Israel needs “freedom of action” in Syria, a region with a heavy Russian military presence. In addition, Netanyahu noted that if Israeli weapons were captured on the battlefield in Ukraine, they could eventually be given to Iran.

  • “We are concerned… with the possibility that systems that we will give to Ukraine would fall into Iranian hands and could be reverse-engineered” and used against Israel, he said.

Netanyahu also said that West Jerusalem cannot allow the US to send Ukraine the Israeli-developed Iron Dome air defense system, which Israel uses to fend off missile attacks which it says are launched by Tehran-backed militant groups.

  • “If that system were to fall into the hands of Iran, then millions of Israelis would be left defenseless and imperiled,” he stated.

On Friday, US Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen said that Israel had blocked the transfer of two US-owned Iron Dome systems to Kiev over “serious concerns,” without elaborating further.

“We are not asking Israel to transfer its own Iron Dome systems which are critical to their own security, but simply to allow the United States to transfer our own batteries to help the people of Ukraine,” the senators wrote.

While Israel has condemned Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, it has not taken part in the Western sanctions on Moscow and has refrained from providing lethal aid to Kiev, focusing instead on humanitarian assistance.

Netanyahu has previously expressed concerns over the potential spillover of Israeli weapons. Last week, he said that the proliferation of weapons is “not a theoretical possibility,” noting that Western anti-tank weapons destined for Ukraine had already found their way to the Middle East.

Source: RT

Police use of firearm against teen unjustified – French prosecutor

A French police officer who shot dead a teenager during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre earlier this week did not meet the “legal conditions for the usage of firearms,” local prosecutor Pascal Prache has said.

  • The charges against the officer in question have been updated from involuntary to intentional homicide, Prache announced on Thursday, adding that the policeman had been detained.

The Nanterre prosecutor said that the charges against the 17-year-old victim – named as Nahel M. – of refusing to cooperate with police will also be probed.

“The purpose of these two investigations is to look at all the circumstances objectively that led to the death of this young driver,” Prache explained.

The killing of the French-Algerian youth on Tuesday sparked two nights of violent protests in Paris and other major cities, including Toulouse, Lille, Lyon, and Nice.

More than 150 people were detained during the unrest, which saw rioters bombard police with fireworks and stones, set fire to cars, and cause other damage.

  • More trouble is expected on Thursday night, with the French Interior Ministry announcing that 40,000 officers will be deployed to maintain order.

Prache provided a timeline of events that led to the fatal shooting, based on CCTV footage, an amateur video, and statements by police.

He said that two motorcycle officers had taken notice of a yellow Mercedes in which Nahel M. and two passengers were traveling, as the car had been speeding in a bus lane.

  • Police pursued the vehicle as its driver ignored their demands to pull over. Footage indicates that the driver of the Mercedes committed several traffic violations during the chase, the prosecutor stated.

According to Prache, officers said they drew their weapons and aimed them at the driver after he finally stopped at a red light because they wanted to dissuade him from trying to escape. However, Nahel M. still attempted to drive off, after which one of the officers opened fire.

The bullet hit Nahel M. through the arm and chest, with the teenager losing control of the car and crashing, Prache said.

One of the passengers fled the scene, while the other was briefly detained. Paramedics quickly arrived at the scene but could not save Nahel M., the prosecutor said.

Source: RT

NATO believes Ukraine’s counteroffensive unsuccessful so far – FT

Western officials have privately acknowledged that Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia is not going well, and that future military assistance to Kiev may diminish as a result, the Financial Times has reported.

  • “Russia still has the advantage of mass,” General Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s top commander in Europe, told a private gathering last week, the FT claimed on Thursday. He reportedly added that Ukraine has not achieved any significant success in its operation.

“For better or worse, the outcome [of the operation] is going to impact everything we do regarding Ukraine, and we are all aware of that,” a senior European diplomat told the FT on condition of anonymity. “Funding, support, political engagement… and most importantly the peace talks that are coming whether we like them or not.”

Publicly, Western officials have pledged to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” to defeat Russia. However, Moscow has warned that by arming and training Ukrainian troops, the US and its allies are prolonging the conflict and will not alter its outcome.

The Western approach amounts to “fighting to the last Ukrainian,” Russian officials have stated.

  • The FT cited the assessments to illustrate internal discussions in the West. EU leaders are set to offer formal security commitments to Ukraine, and the newspaper said it had obtained a draft copy of the final statement being considered at an ongoing summit in Brussels.

EU members France and Germany, along with the UK and the US, are seeking to provide bilateral security arrangements.

The deal would serve as a “stopgap” to give Kiev “confidence in enduring Western support” and ensure that the EU is not sidelined by NATO, the report said. Ireland, Malta and Austria are reportedly against extending vaguely defined commitments.

Ukrainian officials have insisted they will pursue military action until they have reclaimed all the territory lost to Russia. A Ukrainian law also bans any negotiations with Moscow as long as Russian President Vladimir Putin remains in office.

Moscow has said it is prepared for peace talks under certain conditions, and that Kiev’s uncompromising stance, calcified by continued Western support, stands in the way of diplomacy.

Source: RT