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In The News

After Kherson, How Russia's Army Could “Fold Like A House Of Cards”

Kyiv has no intentions of letting Russian troops regroup with any "operational pause." Events will begin to move quickly in Donbas, and may be heading for Crimea sooner rather than later.

photo of Zelensky giving a medal to a soldier

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a surprise visit in Kherson

Anna Akage, Sophia Constatino and Emma Albright

Following last week’s recapture of Kherson, the Ukrainian army does not intend to allow Russia any “operational pause” to regroup and regain strength.

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The U.S. Institute for the Study of War predicts that Russia will likely launch a new offensive in the Donetsk region. Ukraine is then expected to use the forces freed up after pushing the Russian army out of the western Kherson region to reinforce the current offensive in the Luhansk region.

In an interview after the liberation Friday of Kherson, Mykhailo Podolyak, top advisor to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said that the situation at the front will develop very quickly from now on.

"The heaviest battles will be in the direction of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya. Especially in the Donetsk direction, where combat-capable Russian military units exist,” he said.

Podolyak added that the push will happen independently of weather conditions. “No one will give Mr. Putin, Mr. Surovikin, or Mr. Shoigu any opportunity to get an operational pause", he said, referring to Russia’s President, the general in charge of the war in Ukraine, and Russia’s defense minister.

Russia is believed to still have enough weapons to hold out for some time and still has missiles to hit energy infrastructure, but this is a maximum of several months’ worth.

"After the Russian groupings in Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk, and Luhansk direction will be destroyed, the entire defense of the Russian army will fold like a house of cards,” Podolyak said. “We will see a massive, incredibly spectacular escape of Russians from Crimea. It will be an enchanting spectacle."

Since the liberation of Kherson, Ukrainian troops have already liberated 12 settlements in the Luhansk region, in a clear sign that the Ukrainian army is continuing its offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Serhiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, confirmed that combat is intense. "Heavy fighting is taking place in Luhansk every day. Russians opened heavy fire on the villages recently liberated from them, so we are trying to evacuate them,” he said. “There are a lot of contractors from Wagner Group and a new Russian draftees."

Zelensky’s Risky Visit To Kherson To Honor Troops, Warn Of Russian Attacks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky decided to visit Kherson just three days after the city was liberated, even though civilians were advised not to return to the city yet, with bomb squads and rescuers still working there. As he spoke, explosions could be heard in the distance.

Zelensky had reported Sunday night that more than 400 war crimes committed by Russian soldiers had been documented in the newly liberated territories. “The bodies of both civilians and military personnel are being found," Zelensky said in his nightly address.

“In the Kherson region, the Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country where it was able to enter.”

The president also warned that the Russian army would try to attack Kherson again with missiles, as they continue to do in the northeastern city of Kharkiv. On arriving in the city, Zelensky spoke about the reconstruction efforts and awarded Ukrainian soldiers with medals for bravery.

Russia Preparing To Reintroduce Military Training In Schools

Military training in Russia for mobilized troops

Russian Defence Ministry/TASS

Russian Education Minister Sergey Kravstov has announced that “military training will return to Russian schools, beginning in September 2023,” according to a report by Britain’s Defense Ministry.

Moscow had first attempted to revive such standard in-school training in 2014 following Russia's invasion of Crimea, and it will include “contingencies for a chemical or nuclear attack, first aid and experience handling and firing Kalashnikov rifles.”

The British report concludes that the training is “likely to be part of a wider project to instill an ideology of patriotism and trust in public institutions in the Russian population."

Russian Mercenary Wagner Group Brutally Executes Deserter

Russian-controlled private military Wagner Group released a video showing the brutal killing of one of its former members who’d deserted in September.

In the video, published on the messaging service Telegram, a man identified as Yevgeny Nuzhin is seen confessing to desertion, before a Wagner fighter bashes his head in with a sledgehammer.

According to Novaya Gazeta, Nuzhin was a convicted murderer recruited by the Wagner Group over the summer to fight in Ukraine. In September, he reportedly surrendered in Ukraine and gave an interview in which he criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin and stated that he wanted to fight on the side of Ukraine. He was abducted in November.

Kyiv Pundits On What U.S. Midterm Results Mean For Ukraine

Ukrainian media and politicians were closely following the Congressional elections in the United States, as the balance of power in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives can determine whether America will continue to supply Ukraine with weapons and financial assistance.

That the Democrats managed to retain control of the Senate, and avoided major losses in the House 2022 midterm elections, is good news for President Joe Biden, who has been a steadfast supporter of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Pravdawrites that for Ukraine, this means not only continued support but also a weakening of pro-Russian forces in the United States, including those around former President Donald Trump in the Republican party.

European Commission Warns Millions Risk Starvation Because Of War 

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, tweeted that the EU is increasing the amount of money it is giving to support food security by 210 million euros, amid the war in Ukraine.

She wrote: “Putin’s war is bringing millions to the brink of starvation.”

Meanwhile the Kremlin is working on renewing the Black Sea grain export deal and described talks with the United Nations last week as “fairly constructive.”

CNN, SkyNews Lose Press Accreditation In Ukraine

Foreign correspondents from sources like CNN and SkyNews had their journalistic accreditation revoked for reporting from the liberated territory of Kherson, after “ignoring the existing prohibitions and warnings.” says the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The Ukraine military’s statement did not mention the media or journalists by name, but said their press cards were invalidated after they failed to obtain “the consent of the relevant commanders and public relations services of military units, (and) carried out information activities in the city of Kherson even before the completion of stabilization measures.”

A Platoon Of The Children Of Russia’s Elite?

There's a famous quote about war by the late Russian General Alexander Lebed: “Let me recruit a platoon of the children of the elite, and the war will be over in a day.”

Vazhnyye Istorii, as one of the few remaining independent Russian news platforms, decided to investigate what the offspring of the Russian elite thought about Russia's "partial mobilization" that was announced in late September, and whether any of them had been called up.

Few were willing to answer their questions, but there’s plenty of pertinent information: Read more here: Kremlin Kids, Inc: How The Children Of Russia's Elite Keep Busy Avoiding The War

Adoption In Wartime Of A Mariupol Orphan

Family photo

Maria Bespalaya

When Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February, Ukrainian couple Vladimir Bespalov and Maria Bespalaya were in the process of trying to adopt a child.

“I remember that morning of Feb. 24, very clearly,” said Vladimir Bespalov, a 27-year-old railroad worker. “We thought we were too late. We realized we were already in a state of war, and we thought we could no longer adopt.”

They then tried to accelerate the process as they posted on social media that they wanted to adopt any boy or girl, newborn or child.

A few weeks later, a volunteer helping people flee from the besieged city of Mariupol, reached out to the couple. A six-year-old little boy, Ilya Kostushevic, was orphaned and alone. His two parents had been killed in the early weeks of the war.

The volunteer called the couple and asked them if they would be willing to take care of this little boy. Bespalov and Bespalaya are now Ilya’s legal guardians, for over six months they have become a family and they plan to officially adopt him as soon as possible. All adoption processes are currently suspended in Ukraine due to martial law.

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An End To Venezuela Sanctions? The Lula Factor In Biden's Democratization Gamble

The Biden administration's exploration to lift sanctions on Venezuela, hoping to gently push its regime back on the path of democracy, might have taken its cue from Brazilian President Lula's calls to stop demonizing Venezuela.

Photo of a man driving a motorbike past a wall with a mural depicting former President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela

Driving past a Chavez mural in Caracas, Venezuela

Leopoldo Villar Borda


BOGOTÁ — Reports last month that U.S. President Joe Biden's apparent decision to unblock billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets, frozen since 2015 as part of the United States' sanctions on the Venezuelan regime, could be the first of many pieces to fall in a domino effect that could help end the decades-long Venezuelan deadlock.

It may move the next piece — the renewal of conversations in Mexico between the Venezuelan government and opposition — before pushing over other obstacles to elections due in 2024 and to Venezuela's return into the community of American states.

I don't think I'm being naïve in anticipating developments that would lead to a new narrative around Venezuela, very different to the one criticized by Brazil's president, Lula da Silva. He told a regional summit in Brasilia in June that there were prejudices about Venezuela — and I dare say he wasn't entirely wrong, based on the things I hear from a Venezuelan friend who lives in Bogotá but travels frequently home.

My friend insists his country's recent history is not quite as depicted in the foreign press. The price of basic goods found in a food market are much the same as those in Bogotá, he says.

He goes to the theater when he visits Caracas, eats in restaurants and strolls in parks and squares. There are new building works, he says. He uses the Caracas metro and insists its trains and stations are clean — showing me pictures on his cellphone to prove it.

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