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War in Ukraine: Zelensky cautious after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson

Ukraine fears falling into a trap as its troops prepare to retake possession of the city of Kherson, the regional capital in the south of the country.

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War in Ukraine: Zelensky cautious after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson

Ukraine fears falling into a trap as its troops prepare to retake possession of the city of Kherson, the regional capital in the south of the country. "We see no sign that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight. Part of the Russian troops are maintained in the city", assured Wednesday November 9 Mykhaïlo Podoliak, adviser to the Ukrainian presidency. A few hours earlier, General Shoigu announced live on Russian national television "to proceed with the withdrawal of soldiers" from Kherson "quickly".

But the Ukrainian government is very suspicious of the Russians abandoning their biggest prize since the start of the conflict. Losing a city less than two months after swearing it would be "forever Russian" is indeed a humiliating strategic setback for Russia. Since the annexation announced at the end of September, Moscow considers that Kherson is part of the national territory, and Vladimir Putin had warned during the annexation that Russia would defend "by all means" what it considers to be its territory. Other senior Russian officials have since explicitly brandished a possible recourse to nuclear weapons in the event of an attack on this territorial integrity.

During his daily address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday evening that his country was reacting with "extreme caution" to the announcement of the Russian withdrawal. "The enemy does not give us a gift, does not show a gesture of goodwill, we must win everything," he said in his daily message to Ukrainians. General Surovikin on Wednesday justified the withdrawal by his desire to protect the lives of Russian soldiers.

The Russian troops should therefore withdraw to the left bank of the Dnieper, on the Crimean side, thus redrawing a front line. For the time being, the return of the 115,000 inhabitants displaced by Russia to the left bank of the Dnieper has not been mentioned.

In parallel with this major defeat, more than 100,000 Russian soldiers could have been killed or injured since the start of the conflict, according to the American General Staff. “There are well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded,” General Mark Milley assured the New York Economic Club on Wednesday evening, before adding that the losses were probably of the same order on the Ukrainian side. These figures are not independently confirmed, but they are the most accurate provided to date by Washington.

The Ukrainian Defense regularly publishes an estimate of the number of Russian soldiers killed in combat, as well as material losses in Moscow. The latest, dated November 9, estimates the number of Russian soldiers killed during the war at 77,850.

In the ninth month of the Russian offensive, the West continues to affirm its military, logistical and financial support for kyiv. On Wednesday, November 9, the European Commission proposed to the Twenty-Seven member countries to grant Ukraine aid of 18 billion euros for 2023, in the form of loans.

The United States nevertheless warns on its side: military victory is probably impossible for kyiv as for Moscow. "There must be a mutual recognition that military victory is probably not, in the proper sense of the word, attainable by military means, and therefore one must look to other means," General Milley said. , the most senior American military official. According to him, there is "a window of opportunity for negotiation" between Russia and Ukraine.

In this increasingly tense context, Vladimir Putin speaks little on the international scene. He did not comment on the recent military setbacks, and the Russian Embassy announced on Thursday, November 10, after several months of uncertainty, that it is Sergei Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs who will lead the G20 delegation in Bali, November 15 and 16. The latter had prematurely left a meeting of the heads of diplomacy of the G20 in July, after having suffered criticism from several counterparts on the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian President "could participate virtually" in the summit, nevertheless indicated the Russian embassy in Indonesia to AFP.

Indonesia is currently under strong pressure from the West to exclude Russia from the summit. But the Southeast Asian country favors diplomacy independent of the big blocs, and refused, arguing that the host country of the summit should remain neutral. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose country is not part of the G20, was in return also invited by Indonesia. He said he would not participate if his Russian counterpart was present.

Joe Biden, who has called Vladimir Putin a "war criminal" on several occasions, also said he had no intention of meeting with the Russian President at the G20. This summit in Bali will be the most important gathering of leaders from the group of major world economies since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While it continues to soar in Europe, inflation is falling once again in Russia to reach 12.6% over one year in October, according to the Russian statistics agency Rosstat. This is a drop compared to September, when it reached 13.68%.

Prices, already on the rise in Russia due to the post-pandemic recovery and soaring commodity prices, had seen a conflagration following the imposition of international sanctions on Russia for the invasion of the 'Ukraine. In April, inflation had broken a record since 2002, climbing to 17.8% over one year. Since then, the rise in prices has ebbed notably under the efforts of the Russian Central Bank, which now anticipates inflation of between 12 and 13% at the end of the year.

He had traveled to Ukraine to fight Russian troops. Britain's Simon Lingard was killed in action on Monday, November 7, his family said as part of a "GoFundMe" crowdfunding campaign to repatriate his body.

"The Ukrainian army has offered to bring him back to England, but we need help showing him the respect and adoration he deserves by giving him the best of farewells," his family wrote. Several British army veterans or aid workers have lost their lives in Ukraine in recent months, despite appeals from the United Kingdom to its nationals not to go there. Last June, a 20-year-old French boy and a 32-year-old French legionnaire were also killed after joining the fighting in kyiv.

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