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In The News

Unit Of 500 Mobilized Russians Wiped Out,  Putin's "No Front Line" Lie Exposed

If not cannon fodder, many of the reservists are facing shortages of food, weapons and promised payments.

Unit Of 500 Mobilized Russians Wiped Out,  Putin's "No Front Line" Lie Exposed

Mobilized Russian citizens undergo training in Russia

Anna Akage, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

More than 500 mobilized Russian reserve soldiers called up from the Voronezh region were sent to the Ukrainian front lines in Luhansk, where they were decimated in recent days by the Ukrainian army, according to a report in Russian independent publication Verstka

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According to the newspaper, only 31 members of the mobilized unit managed to survive in the battle in the contested eastern region of Ukraine. Those who weren’t killed are reportedly hiding in abandoned buildings in a neighboring village, where they have called their relatives in Russia seeking help to get out of Ukraine.

"We were thrown into the plantations, told to dig ourselves in, and we had three shovels per battalion; there was no provision. We dug in as best we could, and by morning the shelling started,” one of the survivors told his relatives, as reported by Verstka. “When it began, the officers immediately ran away. In between shelling, we tried to dig ourselves in, but we were immediately identified by helicopters and were sitting ducks.”

It is the latest and most bloody evidence that the recently called up units are exposed to risks and deprivation on the front line, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin had assured citizens that the mobilized would not be sent into battle.

When the relatives began to receive calls, they gathered for a rally outside the Voronezh prosecutor's office, demanding that the truth about the fate of their loved ones being told to them.

Also over the weekend, a riot over conditions erupted among moblized soldiers in the western Russian city of Kazan The soldiers are complaining about the lack of food, water, and wood for heating and the old, rusty weaponry. A video published by Dozhd TV shows the command threatening the rioters with force.

For many mobilized and volunteer soldiers, the war in Ukraine was seen as a way to make money. Putin personally promised to pay a lump sum of 195,000 rubles ($3,100) to mobilized and contract soldiers, with similar monthly payments.

However, there are growing reports that payments have been significantly lower than those promised by the president, including some cases of no pay arriving, reports Vazhnyye Istorii. Since August 2022, there have been several mass protests at military units around Russia due to non-payment, including the strike in Chuvashia on November 1, where more than 100 mobilized servicemen demanded the promised payments but never received them.

Elite Russian Brigade Lament Losses

Marines of the 155th Brigade, the Russian army’s best-equipped elite troops, addressed the governor of Primorye, Russia, and complained about their losses. In an open letter, they report,

"As a result of a 'carefully' planned offensive by the 'great commanders,' we lost about 300 men killed, wounded and missing in four days. We lost 50% of the equipment. And this is only our brigade."

The 155th Brigade is well known in Ukraine. They are the same troops who marched on Kyiv in the early days of the war and, after failing to capture the capital, took control of Bucha, where they tortured and murdered civilians.

U.S. Authorities Keeping Channels Open With Russia

The Biden administration is encouraging Ukraine’s government to show an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless Russian President Vladimir Putin is removed from power, The Washington Post reports.

The request by American officials is motivated by an attempt to ensure the government in Kyiv maintains the support of other nations and not fuel a war for many years to come. This shows how complicated the Biden administration’s position on Ukraine has become as U.S. officials continue to vow support for Kyiv with military aid “for as long as it takes” while hoping the conflict does not escalate into a nuclear war.

In another article, published Sunday in The Wall Street Journal, reports that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has had confidential conversations with top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin to reduce the risk of a nuclear attack in the war in Ukraine.

Russian Forces Intensify Raids Searching For Underground Movement

Ukraine’s military reports that Russian forces continue to step up their examination of civilians in the occupied region of Kherson in southern Ukraine, detaining certain locals to prevent partisan resistance as a major battle is looming.

Russian troops are now wearing civilian clothing and living in civilian housing as they “strengthen positions inside for conducting street battles,” according to the Ukrainian military. “Amid the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the occupiers have significantly intensified filtration measures,” the National Resistance Center, a creation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on Monday.

The National Resistance Center said it was aware of dozens of detentions over the past few days. It has also called on civilians to leave the occupied territories “if possible” while the Ukrainian military continues its counter-offensive, to take back Russian occupied regions.

Kyiv Continues To Face Power Cuts

Tram on a unlit tram station in Kyiv due to blackouts

Danylo Antoniuk/ZUMA

As Russian forces continue to targeting Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, Ukraine’s state-energy company warned on Monday that the country could face further scheduled and unscheduled power cuts. “The country's power grid is still unable to resume full operation after the terrorist attacks of Russia,” energy company Ukrenergo announced. “We have to introduce power outages in some regions to avoid overloading of high-voltage infrastructure.”

Meanwhile in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, the further Russian attacks could leave the city without electricity or water, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko. "This is not a war, this is terrorism, this is genocide,” the mayor said regarding the attacks on energy infrastructure.

Klitschko also urged civilians to think about leaving Kyiv and staying with friends and family outside the city: “His goal is for us to die, to freeze, or to make us flee our land so that he can have it. That's what the aggressor wants to achieve.”

At Egypt’s COP27, Al-Sisi Calls For End Of War

President of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at Cop27

Gehad Hamdy/dpa/Zuma

Climate concerns and the challenges of a transition to clean energy were not the only main topics to take center stage as the COP27 UN conference opened in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

The war in Ukraine and the energy crisis and economic slump it triggered in recent months led Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to call for an end to the conflict: “This war must stop, this war, and the suffering it has caused, must finish," al-Sisi said during the opening of the World Leaders Summit at the conference.

Despite countries spending more on environment-related issues, climate progress has stalled since last year’s conference in Glasgow. Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is regarded as an aggravating factor, as it unsettled global energy markets and forced countries to rely more on fossil fuels.

Zelensky Response To Iran’s Drones Confession

The Iranian government has acknowledged for the first time that it has sent drones to Russia, months before the war started in Ukraine. The statement by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, came after previous denials by Tehran that it had supplied Russian with weapons but insisted that the drones were not ones that carried explosives.

“Some Western countries have accused Iran of helping the war in Ukraine by providing drones and missiles to Russia. The part regarding missiles is completely wrong. The part about drones is correct, we did provide a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of the war in Ukraine,” Amirabdollahian told reporters in Tehran.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia intends to continue using Iranian missiles for attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. More than 4.5 million residents are left without power in Kyiv along with six other regions because of the Russian attacks. “We also understand that the terrorist state is concentrating forces and means for a possible repetition of mass attacks on our infrastructure,” Zelensky said. “In particular, for this, Russia needs Iranian missiles.”

He also added in his nightly address, “if it was not for the Iranian supply of weapons to the aggressor, we would be closer to peace now,” he said.

 Letters Found That Russian Students Had Sent To The Front Line

In the Ukrainian city of Izium, La Stampa reporter Francesca Mannocchi found boxes full of letters that Russian students of all grades had sent to their soldiers to keep their morale high.

“Among the rubble and dust were drawings made by elementary school children, letters from middle and high school students, and writings from college students attending engineering and medical schools.

In their letters, the youngest children encouraged the troops to “liberate Ukraine from the Nazis and the terrorists,” adding, evidently under dictation, that it is “sad and depressing that Russia and Ukraine were forced by NATO and the U.S. to kill each other.” Read more about it here.

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Between Xi Jinping And Pope Francis, China's Catholics Are Still Stuck In Limbo

An agreement between the Vatican and Beijing was quietly renewed recently. However, China still views Catholicism with a mix of deep suspicion and general distraction. Meanwhile the faithful and pastors are caught between two very different worlds.

Chinese catholic priests celebrating mass

December 2021, Hong Kong, China: the Bishop of Hong Kong performs the eucharistic prayer.

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk, SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Jieyi Zheng

At a mass on the Assumption of Mary, the Italian priest broke the bread and gave half of it to Liu, an underground priest from China. This simple and solemn rite symbolizes communion with Jesus and the unity of the Catholic Church. But it was only when Liu left his country that he could undertake the rite with a foreign priest, who was also not allowed to preach in China.

The atheist Chinese Communist Party considers religion to be a spiritual opium, and accuses Catholicism in particular of being an accomplice of Western imperialism. The Beijing-backed Catholic Patriotic Association began electing and consecrating its own bishops since 1958, attempting to satisfy the desire of the faithful while severing the link between Chinese Catholics and the Pope.

In order to resolve the plight of Chinese Catholics, after the efforts of three popes, the Vatican and Beijing signed a two-year Provisional Agreement on Nomination of Bishops in 2018. On Oct. 22, when the world’s eyes were focused on Xi Jinping’s groundbreaking third term as president, which is also the expiry date of the previous agreement, the Vatican immediately announced the renewal of the agreement for another two years.

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