‘A whole new level’ of war if NATO arms Ukraine, Russia warns | Russia-Ukraine war News

Russia is warning of an “extraordinarily harmful” escalation if NATO deploys heavy weapons akin to battle tanks and long-range missile programs to Ukraine.

The cautionary assertion from the Kremlin on Thursday got here earlier than a key donor assembly as Western international locations take into account sending extra highly effective army gear to Ukraine with Russian forces intensifying assaults to safe territory.

Germany, particularly, has confronted mounting stress to produce tanks to Kyiv, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy aired frustration about not acquiring sufficient heavy weaponry.

Because the UK introduced final week it should ship Challenger 2 tanks, Berlin has confronted rising stress to produce its Leopard 2 tanks or at the very least clear the way in which for others — akin to Poland — to ship the German-made gear from their very own inventory.

The Kremlin pressed the West to not present heavy weapons to Ukraine able to hanging Russian forces and territory.

“Probably, that is extraordinarily harmful. It’ll imply bringing the battle to an entire new degree which, after all, is not going to bode effectively from the standpoint of worldwide and pan-European safety,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov advised reporters.

‘We are going to destroy it’

On Friday, the US will collect its allies at its airbase in Ramstein, Germany, for a brand new spherical of talks on backing Ukraine militarily.

US defence chief Lloyd Austin will host the coordination assembly. He mentioned “we’ll renew our united dedication to help Ukraine’s self-defence for the lengthy haul” – however didn’t point out particular new gear.

Western companions worry Ukraine might use long-range weapons to hit deep inside Russian territory or Crimea – a peninsula Moscow annexed in 2014 – regardless of Kyiv promising it could not achieve this.

Peskov spoke after Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, mentioned Russia would retaliate if Ukraine makes use of Western-supplied weapons to focus on Russia or the Crimea Peninsula.

“It ought to turn into apparent to everybody: it doesn’t matter what weapons the Individuals or NATO provide to the Zelenskyy regime, we’ll destroy it,” Antonov mentioned. “It’s merely not possible to defeat Russia.”

American rhetoric over Ukraine was changing into “increasingly belligerent”, he added.

By insisting Crimea is a part of Ukraine and saying Kyiv can use US weapons to guard its territory, Washington “is actually pushing the Kyiv regime to commit terror acts in Russia”, mentioned Antonov.

Individually, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that the West’s continued help for Ukraine might result in nuclear struggle.

“A nuclear energy dropping in a traditional struggle can provoke the outbreak of a nuclear struggle,” Medvedev wrote. “Nuclear powers haven’t misplaced main conflicts on which their destiny relies upon.”

Peskov mentioned Medvedev’s feedback had been in keeping with Russia’s nuclear doctrine.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CHALLENGER_2_TANKS_JAN15_edited

‘We will handle danger’

The commander-in-chief of NATO forces in Europe mentioned the potential danger of escalation within the Ukraine struggle from deliveries of Western battle tanks was manageable.

“Can we handle danger? Sure, completely. I consider we are able to handle danger typically,” US Basic Christopher Cavoli advised reporters on Thursday in Brussels after a NATO Army Committee assembly.

Rob Bauer, chair of the NATO Army Committee, underscored the significance of supplying Ukraine with tanks.

“The Russians are preventing with tanks so the Ukrainians want tanks as effectively,” he mentioned. “By way of matching what the enemy has, it will be important for the Ukrainians, and by way of their ambition to regain their very own territory.”

Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak mentioned it was “time to cease trembling at [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and take the ultimate step”.

“Ukraine wants tanks, tanks – the important thing to finish struggle correctly,” Podolyak mentioned on Twitter.

Earlier this month, the US promised to ship its highly effective Bradley armoured preventing automobiles, whereas France provided its extremely cell AMX-10 RCs – offensive weapons that Western nations had beforehand thought of off-limits.

Army help for Ukraine can be mentioned by representatives of about 50 international locations in Ramstein, together with all 30 NATO members.

Ukraine’s international and defence ministers mentioned the promised British tanks, whereas welcome, are “not ample to realize operational targets”.

“We assure that we’ll use these weapons responsibly and completely for the needs of defending the territorial integrity of Ukraine inside internationally recognised borders,” Dmytro Kuleba and Oleksii Reznikov mentioned in a press release, interesting to Germany and different international locations that use the Leopard 2 to hitch an “worldwide tank coalition”.

Between Russia and the EU: Serbia’s balancing act is failing | Opinions

Because the conflict in Ukraine rages on, most of Europe has united in an anti-Russia camp. Nevertheless, there was one nation that has been refusing to select sides: Serbia.

Belgrade is seen as Moscow’s final remaining good friend in Europe, because it determined to not be part of the EU sanctions regime. Consequently, it has confronted heavy criticism and strain from EU officers who’ve made it clear that the nation, as an EU candidate state, is anticipated to align its international coverage with the EU’s Frequent International and Safety Coverage, together with by imposing sanctions on Russia.

The Serbian authorities has defended its place, saying it’s not within the nation’s curiosity to decide on sides. But, within the present polarised geopolitical local weather, neutrality is turning into more and more untenable, as EU strain continues to mount.

Serbia utilized for EU membership in 2009 and has been in accession talks since 2014. It has opened 22 out of the 35 negotiations chapters and it has regularly reiterated that its prime precedence is to turn out to be an EU member.

Nevertheless, in October, Josep Borrell, the EU’s excessive consultant for international affairs and safety coverage, affirmed that Serbia’s EU accession course of is stalling as a result of it’s not aligning its international coverage with Brussels’s.

Slowing down the accession course of shouldn’t be in itself a sufficiently efficient menace, as Serbia is aware of that it’ll not be allowed to hitch till it resolves its dispute with Kosovo, which declared independence from it in 2008.

The EU does produce other simpler choices to strain Serbia into compliance which it hasn’t used. Belgrade has obtained greater than 1.5 billion euro ($1.5bn) in pre-accession funds within the 2014-2020 interval, and is anticipated to get a fair better quantity between 2021 and 2027. If the EU decides to disclaim entry to those pre-accession funds or to cease investments, it might undoubtedly damage the Serbian economic system and growth.

However Serbia has a lot to lose, as properly, if it does observe EU’s lead in imposing sanctions on Moscow. The nation imports roughly 85 % of the fuel it consumes from Russia; doing something that might carry fuel flows right into a halt would have vital penalties for its economic system and societal consolation.

By not imposing sanctions, Serbia has secured an settlement for a three-year uninterrupted provide of fuel from Russia underneath preferential phrases.

This has allowed Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to reassure the Serbian inhabitants that it’ll not undergo this winter, as a lot of Europe is bracing itself for electrical energy shortages and eye-watering power payments. The contract has additionally put the nation able to export pure fuel to its neighbours at a revenue.

Serbia additionally has a free commerce settlement with Russia in impact since 2006 and a free commerce settlement with the Russia-led Eurasian Financial Union signed in 2019, which have opened up huge markets to Serbian exports, however might be upended if relations between the 2 international locations soured.

Moreover, Serbia has seen an inflow of Russian-owned companies shifting into the nation, largely from the IT sector, with greater than 1,000 such firms being registered with the Chamber of Commerce and Trade because the conflict in Ukraine began. The aviation sector has benefitted, as properly – with the nation’s flag provider Air Serbia remaining the one European airline to take care of common flights to Russian airports.

Final however not least, Serbia depends on Russia’s political help and affect within the UN and different worldwide organisations to dam Kosovo’s purposes for membership, which is a part of Serbian efforts to forestall its worldwide recognition.

On the similar time, since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Serbia has not at all times stood by its ally at worldwide boards. In March, it voted for a UN decision condemning Russian aggression in opposition to Ukraine and in October, for one more one rejecting the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory.

Serbian UN diplomats additionally backed suspending Russia’s membership within the United Nations Human Rights Council, which Vucic acknowledged was finished underneath strain from the EU. All of this demonstrates the pragmatism of Serbian international coverage: By standing on the sidelines of the EU-Russia battle, it has tried to have its cake and eat it too. Certainly, in its dealings with the East and West, Serbia has been guided by self-interest, somewhat than shared values – an method that appears to be in style with the Serbian inhabitants.

The EU’s warning that it could halt its accession negotiations could not have the anticipated sting, as an growing portion of the Serbian inhabitants is turning into much less keen about becoming a member of the EU anyway.

Latest polls present that not solely has help for the EU in Serbia fallen under the 50 % threshold, but additionally those that oppose EU membership have gotten better in quantity than those that help it. The decline in enthusiasm for the EU is due largely to the requirement to normalise relations with Kosovo as a situation to turning into an EU member, which is more and more perceived as an EU euphemism for Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

On the similar time, public sympathies for Russia are historically excessive in Serbia as a result of historic, cultural, and non secular ties between the 2 international locations. So, if pressured to select sides, might Serbia truly determine in opposition to the EU?

The reply to that could be a clear “no”. Whereas the final inhabitants might not be, the Serbian authorities is totally conscious that the EU is by far the nation’s largest commerce companion, accounting for greater than 60 % of complete commerce in 2021. Compared, commerce with Russia is lower than 5 % of the entire. Therefore, Serbia’s main financial pursuits lie with the EU.

In response to mounting strain from Brussels, the Serbian authorities’s resolve to take care of neutrality on the EU-Russia rift is starting to waver. In a current media assertion, President Vucic stated he’ll preserve his present coverage till such a time when the “prices” to Serbia turn out to be better than different issues and till Serbia must recognise a special actuality. This was seen as him making ready each the Serbian public and worldwide companions for an inevitable and imminent shift in international coverage.

The Serbian authorities has stated it won’t be able to purchase Russian oil because of the EU sanctions that come into impact in December. It has additionally introduced a 12-billion-euro ($12.4bn) funding plan to diversify its oil and fuel imports. All of this can be a signal that Belgrade could also be succumbing no less than partially to EU strain.

Serbia’s pragmatic neutrality has to date served it properly. However as realpolitik takes precedence over tactical diplomacy, it’s possible it must distance itself from Russia earlier than lengthy.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

After Kherson, can Ukraine and Russia talk peace? | Russia-Ukraine war

As Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu introduced his military’s withdrawal from the important thing Ukrainian metropolis of Kherson, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Employees Mark Milley stated it creates a window of alternative for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour has already lasted for greater than eight months, and casualties and destruction have mounted day after day. Milley stated greater than 100,000 Russian troopers might have been killed and wounded on this battle whereas Ukraine “most likely” suffered the same variety of casualties.

To emphasize his level about peace, Milley evoked the nice powers’ failure to barter at an earlier stage in World Battle I – a mistake that led to thousands and thousands extra casualties and catastrophic developments in a number of international locations, notably the Russian Empire.

Milley’s remarks symbolize a change of tack within the official US rhetoric, elevating questions on a potential push for peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv. What’s extra, within the weeks previous the Russian withdrawal from Kherson, the USA and Russia resumed communication about Ukraine on the degree of high safety officers.

However are Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin prepared to barter? And the way would opening a dialogue replicate on their governments?

Ukraine calls for a full withdrawal of Russian troops from its territory, reparations and punishment for battle criminals. Zelenskyy himself has signed a decree which unequivocally bans him from speaking to Putin. Kyiv’s official place successfully quantities to a requirement for regime change in Russia as a situation for talks.

Moscow, for its half, has lengthy dropped its earlier purpose of eradicating the Ukrainian authorities and has formally asserted that it’s prepared for talks with no situations.

From the Ukrainian perspective, negotiations are a means for Russia to purchase time in the meanwhile when the Ukrainian military has seized the initiative on the frontline and has liberated swathes of Ukrainian territory.

However Zelenskyy’s authorities is reportedly underneath stress from Washington to melt its uncompromising stance. Doubtless reacting to those alerts, the Ukrainian president stated in a current interview with CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour that he was “prepared to speak to Russia – however with a special Russia, one that’s really prepared for peace”.

In the meantime, on social media, Zelenskyy’s safety adviser Mikhaylo Podolyak has been reiterating that the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukrainian territory is unattainable whereas Putin stays in energy. “Due to this fact, we’re constructive in our evaluation: We are going to speak with the subsequent chief of RF,” he wrote in a current tweet, referring to the Russian Federation.

It’s laborious to say whether or not Kyiv’s “all or nothing” rhetoric derives from a deep conviction that it will prevail or whether it is simply posturing to mobilise individuals within the face of aggression and keep away from signalling weak spot to the adversary.

Whereas Ukraine has not exhausted its offensive potential, it’s uncertain it could maintain a battle of attrition with its extra highly effective neighbour in the long term, even with all of the navy and monetary assist it will get from the West.

The nation is predicted to lose 35 p.c of its GDP by the tip of the 12 months, whereas Russia will see its financial system shrink by 4.5 p.c, based on the World Financial institution. Russia’s missile and drone assaults this fall have destroyed as much as 40 p.c of the nation’s vitality infrastructure, Zelenskyy not too long ago admitted.

If the air strikes proceed, many Soviet-era condominium blocks, wherein most Ukrainians reside, will turn out to be unlivable as a result of they rely upon central heating offered by thermal vegetation. This might create a wave of refugees that the European Union wouldn’t be capable of accommodate. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko has talked about the opportunity of evacuating 3 million individuals from Ukraine’s capital alone.

Russia is but to deploy many of the 300,000 males it claims to have mobilised since September. Additionally it is shopping for extra drones and high-precision missiles from Iran, whereas ramping up its personal manufacturing. Whereas withdrawing from Kherson, it’s slowly restarting offensive operations within the Donetsk area.

The second when Ukraine seems to be the prevailing facet can be the second when it could make most positive aspects in peace talks. If Russia seizes the initiative on the entrance line once more, its urge for food for territorial and political trophies will rise exponentially.

Russia’s departure from Kherson and Washington’s subsequent softening of tone on the opportunity of talks gives the imprecise contours of what a future settlement might appear to be.

By withdrawing from the appropriate financial institution of the Dnipro River, Moscow abandons the hope of seizing Odesa and turning Ukraine right into a landlocked nation – not less than for now.

However seizing Odesa extends far past Russia’s territorial claims over the Donetsk and Luhansk areas. After a sham “referendum” in September, Russia additionally formally annexed the Zaporizhia and Kherson areas, however it left itself room for manoeuvre by not defining their borders. After withdrawing from town of Kherson, Moscow nonetheless controls many of the Kherson area.

For Putin to have the ability to declare victory, it’s ample to carry onto the territory Russia is already occupying. He may even afford to lose some extra. Russia’s conformist majority has by no means proven any severe urge for food for territorial growth or has bothered about which bits of Ukrainian territory their nation will management as soon as peace is restored.

Putin’s battle in Ukraine is extra of a punitive operation than an imperialist land seize. So long as the result of the battle is extra humiliating for Ukraine than the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which Moscow tried to impose on Kyiv within the run-up to the full-scale invasion in February, Putin will really feel vindicated. The implementation would have resulted within the emergence of an autonomous Donbas area in jap Ukraine successfully managed by Russia and would have prevented Ukraine’s NATO membership.

Battle with the US-led West, because the Kremlin frames the battle in Ukraine, is now the principle supply of legitimacy for Putin’s authorities, which is why it launched the aggression within the first place. Shedding among the occupied territory is not going to essentially undermine the federal government. Quite the opposite, it could result in extra individuals rallying behind the chief within the face of what many Russians understand as an existential risk.

In the meantime, the West seems to be each unable and unwilling to succeed in out to the Russian inhabitants with a imaginative and prescient of a greater future with out Putin. For a lot of politicians, Russia is little greater than a handy enemy. That makes it simpler for Putin to keep up energy.

Zelenskyy, then again, is on a mission to ship on maximalist expectations whereas additionally dealing with belligerent opposition which is scrutinising his each transfer, able to accuse him of betraying Ukraine’s pursuits.

He should show that Ukrainians’ huge sacrifices weren’t in useless they usually have gained one thing tangible by refusing to succumb to Russian stress to implement the Minsk agreements. That might be a lot tougher to attain, which is why Kyiv is attempting to regain as a lot territory as potential and sustain its momentum.

The trick is determining the appropriate time to attract a line and sue for peace.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

Russia deportations probable ‘crimes against humanity’: Amnesty | Politics News

Civilians inform rights group they endured ‘abusive screening processes’ as they have been taken from Ukraine to Russia.

Russia has in all probability dedicated crimes in opposition to humanity by forcibly transferring Ukrainian civilians in Russian-occupied areas of the nation to different areas, in response to Amnesty Worldwide.

Civilians have been moved from occupied Ukraine additional into Russian-controlled areas or into Russia, with kids separated from their households in violation of worldwide humanitarian regulation, the rights group mentioned in a report launched on Thursday.

Amnesty mentioned it had been advised by civilians they’d endured “abusive screening processes” – generally known as filtration – which typically resulted in arbitrary detention, torture and different ill-treatment.

“Separating kids from their households and forcing individuals tons of of kilometres from their houses are additional proof of the extreme struggling Russia’s invasion has inflicted on Ukraine’s civilians,” mentioned Agnes Callamard, Amnesty Worldwide’s secretary common.

“Russia’s deplorable tactic of forcible switch and deportation is a conflict crime. Amnesty Worldwide believes this have to be investigated as against the law in opposition to humanity,” she mentioned.

Ukraine has mentioned it’s going to increase the difficulty of its hundreds of lacking kids on the G20 summit in Indonesia subsequent week. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is predicted to attend the assembly remotely, though Ukraine is just not a member. Russian President Vladimir Putin is just not anticipated to journey to Indonesia and is reportedly sending International Minister Sergey Lavrov as an alternative.

Amnesty mentioned that in a single case, a lady was separated from her 11-year-old son throughout filtration, detained and never reunited with him.

The rights group mentioned it interviewed 88 individuals, the vast majority of them civilians from Mariupol, the Ukrainian Black Sea metropolis seized by Russia after a brutal siege, in addition to residents from the Kharkiv, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia areas.

“Most, particularly these from Mariupol, described coercive situations that meant that they’d no significant alternative however to go to Russia or different Russian-occupied areas,” the report mentioned.

The transfers “amounted to conflict crimes and certain crimes in opposition to humanity”, it added.

Amnesty mentioned that after in Russia, a number of individuals mentioned they felt pressured into making use of for Russian citizenship, or that their actions have been restricted.

The report is without doubt one of the most important interventions by Amnesty over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because it angered Kyiv in August by publishing a report that accused Ukraine of endangering civilians by establishing bases in faculties and hospitals.

The group on the time mentioned it stood by the findings of the report, which prompted the pinnacle of Amnesty’s Ukraine workplace to resign in protest, accusing Amnesty of parroting Kremlin propaganda.

However the organisation additionally acknowledged the “misery and anger” the report had generated.

In its newest launch, Amnesty emphasised it had been documenting “conflict crimes and different violations of worldwide humanitarian regulation dedicated throughout Russia’s conflict of aggression in Ukraine for the reason that battle started” and has referred to as for officers to face justice.

Russia recruiting US-trained Afghan commandos for Ukraine: Report | Taliban News

Afghan particular forces troopers who fought alongside American troops after which fled to Iran after america’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan final yr at the moment are being recruited by the Russian army to combat in Ukraine, the Related Press information company has reported.

Three former Afghan generals advised the AP the Russians need to appeal to 1000’s of the previous elite Afghan commandos right into a “overseas legion” providing a gradual, $1,500-a-month wage and promising a secure haven for themselves and their households to allow them to keep away from deportation dwelling to what many assume can be loss of life by the hands of the Taliban.

“They don’t need to go combat — however they haven’t any alternative,” stated one of many generals, Abdul Raof Arghandiwal, including that the dozen or so commandos in Iran with whom he has texted worry deportation most.

“They ask me, ‘Give me an answer? What ought to we do? If we return to Afghanistan, the Taliban will kill us.’”

Arghandiwal stated the recruiting is led by the Russian mercenary drive Wagner Group.

One other basic, Hibatullah Alizai, the final Afghan military chief earlier than the Taliban took over, stated the hassle can also be being helped by a former Afghan particular forces commander who lived in Russia and speaks the language.

The Russian recruitment follows months of warnings from US troopers who fought with Afghan particular forces that the Taliban was intent on killing them and that they could be a part of with US enemies to remain alive or out of anger with their former ally.

A Republican Get together congressional report in August particularly warned of the hazard that the Afghan commandos — skilled by US Navy SEALs and Military Inexperienced Berets — may find yourself giving details about US ways to the Islamic State group, Iran or Russia, or combat for them.

“We didn’t get these people out as we promised, and now it’s coming dwelling to roost,” stated Michael Mulroy, a retired CIA officer who served in Afghanistan, including that the Afghan commandos are highly-skilled, fierce fighters. “I don’t need to see them in any battlefield, frankly, however definitely not combating the Ukrainians.”

Mulroy was sceptical, nevertheless, that Russians would be capable to persuade many Afghan commandos to affix them as a result of most he knew have been pushed by the will to make democracy work of their nation reasonably than being weapons for rent.

The recruitment comes as Russian forces reel from Ukrainian army advances and Russian President Vladimir Putin pursues a sputtering mobilisation effort, which has prompted a whole bunch of 1000’s of Russian males to flee the nation to flee service.

Russia’s Defence Ministry didn’t reply to a request for remark.

A spokesperson for Yevgeny Prigozhin, who lately acknowledged being the founding father of the Wagner Group, dismissed the concept of an ongoing effort to recruit former Afghan troopers as “loopy nonsense”.

The US Protection Division additionally didn’t reply to a request for remark, however a senior official advised the recruiting isn’t a surprise on condition that Wagner has been attempting to enroll troopers in a number of different nations.

It was unclear what number of Afghan particular forces members who fled to Iran have been courted by the Russians, however one advised the AP he’s speaking by the WhatsApp chat service with about 400 different commandos who’re contemplating gives.

He stated many like him worry deportation and are offended on the US for abandoning them.

“We thought they could create a particular programme for us, however nobody even thought of us,” stated the previous commando, who requested anonymity as a result of he fears for himself and his household. “They only left us all within the arms of the Taliban.”

The commando stated his provide included Russian visas for himself in addition to his three kids and spouse who’re nonetheless in Afghanistan. Others have been provided extensions of their visas in Iran. He stated he’s ready to see what others within the WhatsApp teams resolve however thinks many will take the deal.

US veterans who fought with Afghan particular forces have described to the AP practically a dozen instances, none confirmed independently, of the Taliban going home to accommodate searching for commandos nonetheless within the nation, torturing or killing them, or doing the identical to members of the family if they’re nowhere to be discovered.

Human Rights Watch has stated greater than 100 former Afghan troopers, intelligence officers and police have been killed or forcibly “disappeared” simply three months after the Taliban took over regardless of guarantees of amnesty.

The United Nations, in a report in mid-October, documented 160 extrajudicial killings and 178 arrests of former authorities and army officers.

The brother of an Afghan commando in Iran who has accepted the Russian provide stated Taliban threats make it tough to refuse. He stated his brother needed to conceal for 3 months after the autumn of Kabul, shuttling between family members’ homes whereas the Taliban searched his dwelling.

“My brother had no different alternative than accepting the provide,” stated the commando’s brother, Murad, who would solely give his first title due to worry the Taliban may observe him down. “This was not a simple choice for him.”

Former Afghan military chief Alizai stated a lot of the Russian recruiting effort is targeted on Tehran and Mashhad, a metropolis close to the Afghan border the place many have fled. The generals who spoke to the AP, together with a 3rd, Abdul Jabar Wafa, stated none of their contacts in Iran have been conscious of what number of had taken up the provide.

“You get army coaching in Russia for 2 months, and then you definately go to the battle traces,” learn one textual content message a former Afghan soldier in Iran despatched to Arghandiwal. “Quite a few personnel have gone, however they’ve misplaced contact with their households and associates altogether. The precise statistics are unclear.”

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Afghan particular forces fought with the People in the course of the two-decade warfare, and just a few hundred senior officers have been airlifted out when the US army withdrew from Afghanistan.

Since lots of the Afghan commandos didn’t work instantly for the US army, they weren’t eligible for particular US visas.

“They have been those who fought to the actually final minute. And so they by no means, by no means, by no means talked to the Taliban. They by no means negotiated,” Alizai stated. “Leaving them behind is the largest mistake.”

What would retreat from Ukraine’s Kherson mean for Russia? | News

Ukrainian forces urgent an offensive within the south have zeroed in on Kherson, a provincial capital that has been below Russian management for the reason that early days of the invasion.

The potential fall of the town would deal one other humiliation to Russia after a string of battlefield defeats and different setbacks, additional cornering President Vladimir Putin and setting the stage for a possible escalation of the almost eight-month-old conflict.

Here’s a have a look at the navy and political significance of Kherson:

Why is the town such a prize?

Kherson, which had a pre-war inhabitants of 280,000, is the one regional capital to be captured by Russian forces. Town and surrounding areas fell into Moscow’s fingers within the opening days of the battle as Russian troops shortly pushed their assault north from Crimea, the area illegally annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.

Its loss was a giant blow to Ukraine due to its location on the Dnieper River, close to the mouth of the Black Sea, and its position as a serious industrial centre. Ukrainian resistance fighters have challenged Russian troops for management of the town ever since, with acts of sabotage and assassinations of Moscow-appointed officers.

Kherson additionally sits at a degree the place Ukraine can lower off recent water from the Dnieper to Crimea. Kyiv blocked these very important provides after the Crimean Peninsula’s annexation, and Putin talked about the necessity to restore them as one cause behind his determination to invade.

In the course of the summer time, Ukrainian troops launched relentless assaults to reclaim elements of the province, additionally known as Kherson, which is likely one of the 4 areas that Russia illegally annexed after sham referendums final month.

Ukraine has used US-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers to repeatedly hit a key bridge on the Dnieper in Kherson and a big dam upstream, additionally used as a crossing level. The strikes have compelled Russia to depend on pontoons and ferries, additionally focused by Ukraine.

The assaults have disrupted provide hyperlinks to Kherson and the group of Russian forces on the west financial institution of the Dnieper and made them weak to encirclement. The shortages have been exacerbated after an October 8 truck bomb blew up a part of the strategic Kerch Bridge linking Russia’s mainland to Crimea, which has served as a serious provide hub for the Russian forces within the south.

What has been Russia’s response?

Putin blamed the Kerch Bridge assault on Ukraine’s navy intelligence and responded by ordering a bombardment of power infrastructure throughout Ukraine.

He additionally declared martial regulation in Kherson and the three different annexed areas in a bid to cement Moscow’s grip.

However as Ukrainian forces stubbornly pressed their offensive to the southwest alongside the Dnieper, Russian troops have discovered it more and more tough to stem their advance.

Normal Sergei Surovikin, the newly appointed Russian commander in Ukraine, appeared to set the stage for a potential withdrawal from Kherson, acknowledging the state of affairs within the area was “fairly tough” for Moscow and noting that the fight state of affairs there was nonetheless evolving.

Russian authorities, who initially dismissed speak of evacuating the town, sharply modified course this week, warning that Kherson might come below large Ukrainian shelling and inspiring residents to depart – however solely to Russian-held areas. Officers stated 15,000 folks of an anticipated 60,000 had been relocated by Thursday. Officers of the Moscow-appointed regional administration additionally pulled again, together with different civil servants.

Moscow has warned that Ukraine may attempt to assault the dam on the Kakhovka hydroelectric energy plant about 50km (30 miles) upstream and flood broad areas, together with the town of Kherson. Ukraine denies that and, in flip, accused Russia of planning to blow it as much as trigger catastrophic flooding earlier than its retreat.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alleged the dam had been mined by Russia and urged world leaders to clarify to the Kremlin that blowing it up would “imply precisely the identical as using weapons of mass destruction”.

What would shedding Kherson imply for Russia?

A retreat from Kherson and different areas on the Dnieper’s west financial institution would shatter Russian hopes to press an offensive west to Mykolaiv and Odesa to chop off Ukraine’s entry to the Black Sea. Such a transfer would deal a devastating blow to its financial system. It will additionally permit Moscow to doubtlessly construct a land hall to the separatist Transnistria area of Moldova, residence to a vital Russian navy base.

“The lack of Kherson will flip all these southern desires by the Kremlin into mud,” stated Ukrainian navy analyst Oleh Zhdanov.

“Kherson is a key to the complete southern area, which might permit Ukraine to focus on key provide routes for the Russian forces. Russians will attempt to retain management of it utilizing all means.”

For Ukraine, capturing Kherson would set the stage for reclaiming the Russia-held a part of the Zaporizhia area and different areas within the south, and ultimately pushing again into Crimea.

“Ukraine simply wants to attend till Kherson falls into its fingers like a ripe apple, as a result of the state of affairs with provides for the Russian group of forces retains exacerbating by the day,” Zhdanov stated.

Ukraine hopes to shortly double the variety of US-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers that would exactly strike targets 80km (50 miles) away, he stated.

Reclaiming management of Kherson would additionally imply Kyiv might once more lower off water to Crimea.

“After the de-occupation of Kherson, the Russians will once more have issues with recent water in Crimea,” Zhdanov added. He stated Putin might up the ante if confronted with shedding Kherson.

“The Russians could be able to wipe Kherson off the face of the Earth quite than give it to Ukraine,” Zhdanov stated.

Destroying the dam to trigger giant flooding within the principally flat space could be a method for Moscow to try this.

“The Russians wish to present {that a} Ukrainian counteroffensive will face a troublesome response by the Kremlin that declared the area as a part of Russia, and it’s scary to even suppose what that response might be,” Zhdanov added.

Russia, Iran defiant amid UN pressure over Ukraine drones | Russia-Ukraine war News

Russia has warned the United Nations towards investigating its use of drones in Ukraine, amid accusations the weapons got here from Iran and had been utilized in violation of UN arms restrictions on the Center Jap nation.

America, France and the UK referred to as a closed-door Safety Council assembly on the drones after an assault on Kyiv on Monday that killed at the very least 5 folks, and induced widespread harm to energy stations and different civilian infrastructure.

Ukraine says its navy has shot down greater than 220 Iranian drones, formally often called uncrewed aerial autos (UAV), in little greater than a month and has invited UN Secretary-Common Antonio Guterres to Ukraine to examine a few of the wreckage it has collected.

Talking after the Safety Council assembly on Wednesday, Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy insisted the weapons had been made in Russia and condemned “baseless accusations and conspiracy theories”.

He referred to as on Guterres and his employees to “abstain from participating in any illegitimate investigation. In any other case, we should reassess our collaboration with them, which is hardly in anybody’s pursuits,” he instructed reporters.

The US and European Union say they’ve proof that Iran provided Russia with Shahed-136s, low-cost drones that explode on touchdown. Washington says any arms switch was in contravention of UN Safety Council Decision 2231 which is a part of the 2015 Joint Complete Plan of Motion (JCPOA), a now moribund deal to curb Iran’s nuclear actions and stop the nation from growing a nuclear weapon.

A close up of wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone shot down near Kupiansk, Ukraine.
A detailed-up of wreckage from what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone that was introduced down close to Kupiansk, Ukraine [File: Ukrainian military’s Strategic Communications Directorate via AP Photo]

Tehran denies supplying the drones to Russia and earlier this week stated it was prepared for “dialogue and negotiation with Ukraine to clear these allegations” after International Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated Ukraine ought to break diplomatic ties with Tehran.

On Wednesday, Iran’s UN envoy, Amir Saeid Iravani, rejected the “unfounded and unsubstantiated claims” on the drone transfers and stated that Tehran, which has abstained in votes on the warfare, needed a “peaceable decision” of the battle, which started when Russia despatched its troops into Ukraine on February 24.

Iravani stated Ukraine’s invitation “lacks any authorized basis” and referred to as on Guterres “to forestall any misuse” of the decision and UN officers on points associated to the Ukraine warfare.

“Iran is of the agency perception that none of its arms exports, together with UAVs, to any nation” violate decision 2231, he added.

EU prepares sanctions

Below the 2015 decision, a traditional arms embargo on Iran was in place till October 2020.

However Ukraine and its Western allies argue that the decision nonetheless consists of restrictions on missiles and associated applied sciences till October 2023, and may embody the export and buy of superior navy techniques akin to drones.

French UN Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere stated Guterres has a “clear mandate twice a 12 months to report on all this stuff and to make technical assessments, so I believe the UN secretariat should go and can go”.

Guterres studies twice a 12 months to the Safety Council — historically in June and December — on the implementation of the 2015 decision. Any evaluation of the drones in Ukraine would in all probability be included in that report.

“As a matter of coverage, we’re all the time prepared to look at any info and analyse any info dropped at us by Member States,” UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric stated on Wednesday.

The EU is predicted to approve sanctions over the drones forward of a summit that begins on Thursday in Brussels.

A listing seen by the AFP information company confirmed the 27-nation grouping would take motion towards three senior navy officers, together with Common Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the chief of employees of Iran’s armed forces, in addition to drone maker Shahed Aviation Industries, an aerospace firm linked to the nation’s Revolutionary Guards.

Nabila Massrali, spokeswoman for EU overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell, stated the bloc had “gathered our personal proof” and would put together “a transparent, swift and agency EU response”.

Ukraine hails ‘next step towards liberation’ as Russia retreats | Russia-Ukraine war News

After being encircled by Ukrainian forces, Russia pulled troops out from the strategic japanese Ukrainian metropolis of Lyman – the newest victory for Kyiv’s counteroffensive that has humiliated and angered Moscow.

The announcement on Saturday got here a day after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of 4 Ukrainian areas – together with Donetsk, the place Lyman is situated – and positioned them beneath Russia’s nuclear umbrella, at a ceremony condemned by Kyiv and the West as an illegitimate farce.

“In reference to the creation of a menace of encirclement, allied troops have been withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to extra advantageous traces,” Russia’s defence ministry stated, utilizing the Russian identify of town.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later stated in a video tackle though the Ukrainian flag was flying within the metropolis, “combating remains to be happening there”.

He additionally indicated Ukrainian troops had taken the village of Torske, on the primary street out of Lyman to the east.

The Russian assertion ended hours of official silence after Ukraine first stated it surrounded hundreds of Russian troops within the space after which that its forces have been inside town.

Ukraine’s defence ministry wrote on Twitter that “nearly all” the Russian troops in Lyman had both been captured or killed.

‘Drastic measures’

Positioned 160km (100 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis, Lyman is within the Donetsk area close to the border with Luhansk, two areas that Russia annexed on Friday.

“The Russian grouping within the space of Lyman is surrounded,” stated Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine’s japanese forces.

Russia has used Lyman as a logistics and transport hub for its operations within the north of the Donetsk area. Its seize can be Ukraine’s greatest battlefield achieve since a counterattack within the northeastern Kharkiv area final month.

The latest Ukrainian successes have infuriated Putin allies equivalent to Ramzan Kadyrov, the chief of Russia’s southern Chechnya area, who stated he felt compelled to talk out.

“In my private opinion, extra drastic measures ought to be taken, proper as much as the declaration of martial regulation within the border areas and the usage of low-yield nuclear weapons,” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram.

Different high Putin allies, together with former President Dmitry Medvedev, have instructed Russia might have to resort to nuclear weapons, however Kadyrov’s name was probably the most pressing and express.

Putin stated final week he was not bluffing when he stated he was ready to defend Russia’s “territorial integrity” with all out there means, and on Friday made clear this prolonged to the brand new areas claimed by Moscow.

Washington says it might reply decisively to any use of nuclear weapons and has spelled out to Moscow the “catastrophic penalties” it might face.

‘Psychologically essential’

Two Ukrainian troopers taped the yellow-and-blue nationwide flag to the Lyman welcome signal at an entrance to town, a video posted by the president’s chief of employees confirmed.

“October 1. We’re unfurling our state flag and establishing it on our land. Lyman will likely be Ukraine,” one of many troopers stated.

Ukraine stated controlling Lyman would permit Kyiv to advance into the Luhansk area, whose full seize Moscow introduced in early July after weeks of grinding advances.

“Lyman is necessary as a result of it’s the subsequent step in direction of the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbas. It is a chance to go additional to Kreminna and Severodonetsk, and it’s psychologically essential,” Cherevatyi stated.

Donetsk and Luhansk areas make up the broader Donbas area that has been a significant focus for Russia since quickly after the beginning of Moscow’s invasion on February 24 in what it calls a “particular navy operation” to demilitarise its neighbour.

Putin proclaimed the Donbas areas of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern areas of Kherson and Zaporizhia to be Russian land on Friday – a swath of territory equal to about 18 p.c of Ukraine’s complete floor land space.

Ukraine and its Western allies branded Russia’s transfer as unlawful. Kyiv promised to proceed liberating its land from Russian forces and stated it might not maintain peace talks with Moscow whereas Putin remained president.

In the meantime, on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula, the governor of town of Sevastopol introduced an emergency state of affairs at an airfield there. Explosions and big billows of smoke could possibly be seen by beachgoers within the Russian-held resort. Authorities stated a aircraft rolled off the runway on the Belbek airfield, and stated ammunition on board had caught hearth.

Ukrainian authorities accused Russian forces of targetting two humanitarian convoys in latest days, killing dozens of civilians.

In different developments, in an obvious try and safe Moscow’s maintain on the newly annexed territory, Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant, Ihor Murashov.

Russia can defend new regions with nuclear weapons: Medvedev | Russia-Ukraine war News

Putin ally says Ukrainian territories that vote to hitch Russia will probably be protected by Moscow as ‘sham’ referendums close to.

Dmitry Medvedev, the previous Russian president, has mentioned that any weapons in Moscow’s arsenal, together with strategic nuclear weapons, might be used to defend territories integrated into Russia from Ukraine.

Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Safety Council, additionally mentioned on Thursday that referendums being organised by Russian-installed and separatist authorities in massive swathes of occupied Ukrainian territory will happen, and that “there isn’t a going again”:

“The Donbas [Donetsk and Luhansk] republics and different territories will probably be accepted into Russia,” he mentioned in a Telegram submit, referring to breakaway areas in jap Ukraine’s industrial heartland.

His feedback got here after President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that Moscow would use “all obtainable means” to guard Russia’s “territorial integrity” as he moved to mobilise 300,000 reserve forces to struggle in Ukraine. The thinly veiled nuclear menace drew quick condemnation from an array of Western leaders.

Medvedev, who usually points aggressive statements on the West and Ukraine, added that the safety of all of the territories could be considerably strengthened by the Russian armed forces.

“Russia has introduced that not solely mobilisation capabilities, but additionally any Russian weapons, together with strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based mostly on new rules, might be used for such safety,” he mentioned.

INTERACTIVE Russia's nuclear programme

The votes to hitch Russia are as a consequence of happen within the Russian-held components of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia provinces, in addition to a part of Mykolaiv province, from Friday – and are broadly anticipated to provide outcomes overwhelmingly endorsing becoming a member of Russia.

The votes, which is able to happen underneath army occupation with none outdoors oversight, have been labelled shams by Kyiv and its Western allies.

If formally admitted to the Russian Federation, the occupied territories, the place Ukrainian counteroffensives have gathered tempo in current weeks, will underneath Moscow’s nuclear doctrine, be entitled to safety from Russian nuclear weapons.

Moscow doesn’t absolutely management any of the 4 areas it’s anticipated to attempt to annex, with solely round 60 % of Donetsk and 66 % of Zaporizhia at the moment held by the Russian military.

Ex-US official visits Russia to push for Americans’ release | Russia-Ukraine war News

Biden administration distances itself from Invoice Richardson’s efforts, however Brittney Griner’s household welcomes the go to.

Former United States diplomat Invoice Richardson visited Russia this week, a number of information retailers have reported, amid efforts to safe the discharge of American basketball participant Brittney Griner and US navy veteran Paul Whelan.

However the US State Division on Wednesday distanced itself from the journey, stressing that Washington is engaged with Moscow by established channels to safe the 2 Individuals’ launch.

State Division Spokesperson Ned Worth stated the go to by Richardson — who has labored to free detained Americans the world over — to Russia was not coordinated with the US authorities.

“Our concern is that personal residents trying to dealer a deal don’t and can’t communicate for the US authorities, and we now have urged non-public residents to not journey to Russia, owing to the risks that they’d face,” Worth informed reporters throughout a information convention.

He added that holding talks with Russia exterior the designated diplomatic channels might “hinder” the push to free Griner and Whelan.

The Related Press reported that the Richardson Heart for World Engagement declined to touch upon the go to.

The centre based by Richardson, a former envoy to the United Nations and New Mexico governor, says it negotiates “for the discharge of prisoners and hostages held by hostile regimes or legal organizations”.

Griner’s spouse, Cherelle, informed CNN that the household requested the Richardson Heart to assist. “We’re inspired to listen to that they’re having conferences in Moscow,” Cherelle Griner stated.

A two-time Olympic gold medallist and Girls’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation (WNBA) star, Griner was sentenced to 9 years in jail final month over drug expenses.

She was arrested in February, days earlier than Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and her case has moved by the Russian court docket system amid frayed relations between Moscow and Washington over the conflict.

Griner was accused of bringing vape canisters containing hashish oil into Russia, the place she was set to play for a basketball staff in Yekaterinburg.

Since Griner’s arrest, kin, teammates and supporters have been calling on the US authorities to place its full weight behind the case to push for her launch.

The US authorities stated in Could that Griner was “wrongfully detained“, and it has been calling for her launch.

After she was sentenced in August, President Joe Biden known as her detention “unacceptable” and promised to “tirelessly and pursue each potential avenue” to carry her and Whelan again to the US.

Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in jail in 2020 on espionage expenses.

On Wednesday, Worth stated Washington had made a “vital provide” to Russia to safe the discharge of the 2 US residents, including that discussions on the difficulty are “ongoing”.