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In The News

Russia Loses Kherson — Decisive Moment Or More War Of Attrition?

Russia Loses Kherson — Decisive Moment Or More War Of Attrition?

Two Ukrainian servicemen patrol a town in Kherson

Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

After several weeks of mixed messages, the announcement of Russia’s withdrawal from the strategic city of Kherson caught many off guard. It is in many respects a momentous turn, with Ukraine poised to retake a city captured by Russian forces in the very first days after the Feb. 24 invasion.

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The pullout is not only important in symbolic terms, but can wind up being a significant blow for Russia as the two-month-long Ukrainian counteroffensive can now advance eastward into the Donbas region.

But the move is also simply the latest sign, as veteran Le Monde correspondent Emmanuel Grynszpan notes, that this has been “a war of attrition since the month of April.”

The comments from both Kyiv and Moscow seem to confirm such a reality: "No one withdraws from anywhere unless they encounter [their opponent's] strength," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared proudly in his nightly address. "The enemy doesn't give us gifts or gestures of goodwill. We get all of this by fighting for it."

In announcing the withdrawal on television, the commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, Sergey Surovikin, cited the importance of limiting casualties: ‘"For us, the life and health of Russian military personnel is always a priority,” he said. “We must […] take all measures for the safe transfer of equipment, weapons and personnel across the Dnieper River."

Grynszpan said Moscow appears to be ready for a “pause just before winter to regroup its military forces and relaunch an offensive later.”

Kherson Pullout On Argentine Front Page

“Russia abandons one of its strongholds in Ukraine,” titles Argentine daily Clarin.

Biden Links Kherson Withdrawal To Midterms

U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters that Moscow’s announced withdrawal was “evidence of the fact that they have some real problems, Russia, the Russian military.”

Regarding the timing of the announcement, Biden added: “I find it interesting that they waited until after the [U.S. midterm] election to make that judgment.” The president’s comment was seen as an apparent reference to pre-election hopes in Moscow that a major defeat of Democrats could lead to reduced U.S. support for Ukraine.

New Russian Offers For Negotiation Help Buy Time

Signaling its readiness for dialogue, Russia is simply trying to buy time to then launch a new stage of aggression on the front line, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko stated. “It it nothing more than another smokescreen to win time amid the defeats of the Russian army” he said on Facebook.

“Russian officials are beginning to mention talks every time their troops are defeated on the battlefield […] We already went through this in 2014-2015,” he said. He added that Ukraine has repeatedly offered negotiations, but “it has always received a contemptuous reaction, a demand to obey the Kremlin’s ultimatums or another act of genocide against Ukrainians.”

The latest to declare a desire to talk was Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Maria Zahorova. “I will emphasize again … We are still open to negotiations, we have never refused them, we are ready to conduct them, of course, taking into account the realities that are emerging at the moment.”

U.S. General Estimates Russia And Ukraine Have Lost 100,000 Soldiers Each

Ukrainian soldiers training

Ashley Chan/SOPA/Zuma

Speaking at an event at The Economic Club of New York, top U.S. General Mark Milley estimated that 200,000 soldiers in total had so far died in the war between Russia and Ukraine, with a comparable amount of casualties on both warring parties.

“You’re looking at well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded,” Milley is quoted as saying, “Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side.”

UK To Send More Missiles To Ukraine And Freeze $20.5 Billion In Russian Assets

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced that the UK would soon be delivering approximately 1,000 additional surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine's Armed Forces.

The equipment includes launchers and missiles and is capable of shooting down air targets, including Russian drones and cruise missiles.

Meanwhile, the British government says it has frozen assets worth 18 billion pounds ($20.5 billion) belonging to Russian oligarchs, other individuals and entities sanctioned for the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin Will Not Attend G20 Summit

The Russian embassy in Indonesia has confirmed that Vladimir Putin will not attend the next G20 summit, which opens next week in Bali.

According to Bloomberg, the Kremlin aims to shield the Russian president from possible high-level tensions over the invasion of Ukraine. Russia is planning to send Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the summit instead.

Mazda Pulls Out Of Joint Venture In Russia

Mazda in Russia

Yuri Smityuk/TASS

Japanese carmaker Mazda is pulling out of its joint venture in Russia. This comes after the company stopped its operations earlier in the year due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Mazda stopped shipping parts to Russia last March and officially ended its business the following month over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The company said it signed an agreement last month to transfer all of its equity interest in the Russian business to its joint venture partner Sollers. This makes Mazda the latest Japanese company to announce its withdrawal from Russia, two months after Toyota said it was halting production in the country.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner Group 2.0: Why Russia's Mercenary System Is Here To Stay

Many had predicted that the death last month of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin meant the demise of the mercenary outfit. Yet signs in recent days say the private military outfit is active again in Ukraine, a reminder of the Kremlin's interest in continuing a private fighting formula that has worked all around the world.

Photograph of a Wagner soldier in the city of Artyomovsk, holding a rifle.

Ukraine, Donetsk Region - March 24, 2023: A Wagner Group soldier guards an area in the city of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut).

Cameron Manley


“Let’s not forget that there is no Wagner Group anymore,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declared. “Such an organization, in our eyes, does not exist.”

The August 25 statement from came less than two days after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the infamous Russian mercenary outfit, as questions swirled about Wagner's fate after its crucial role in the war in Ukraine and other Russian military missions around the world.

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How could an independent military outfit survive after its charismatic founder's death? It seemed highly unlikely that President Vladimir Putin would allow the survival of a group after had launched a short-lived coup attempt in late June that most outside observers believe led to Prigozhin's private airplane being shot down by Russian forces on August 23.

"Wagner is over,” said the Kremlin critic and Russian political commentator Maksim Katz. “The group can’t keep going. There’s the possibility that they could continue in parts or with Defense Ministry contracts, but the group only worked with an unofficial agreement between Putin and Prigozhin.”

Yet barely a month later, and there are already multiple signs that the Wagner phoenix is rising from the ashes.

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