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HomeWorldRussian forces appear to lose steam as Ukraine prepares offensive

Russian forces appear to lose steam as Ukraine prepares offensive


It was a week of highs and lows for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Monday, he posed for photos in Moscow with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, one of the few world leaders to be photographed with him. But by then Putin was a wanted man, charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for allegedly deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

On the battlefield, Russia’s winter offensive in eastern Ukraine appeared to be stagnating as Ukrainian troops continued to hold back the fall of the city of Bakhmut.

China can be Russia’s lifeline

Despite China’s statements that it reserves the right to assist Russia militarily, it has so far provided Russia with only diplomatic cover.

Russia and China issued a joint statement on Ukraine, in which Russia supports China’s “objective and impartial” position and backs China as a potential peacemaker in the Ukraine crisis.

China has one last month 12 point position about the war in Ukraine, which supported elements of both the Russian and Western approaches. For example, it opposed sanctions imposed by the West, as well as nuclear escalation, which Russian officials have threatened on several occasions.

This week’s statements warned of hostilities reaching “an uncontrollable phase,” which could be interpreted as a warning of a nuclear confrontation.

Tuesday’s Sino-Russian joint statement also called for “ending all steps that contribute to the escalation of tension,” suggesting that it is not Russia’s continued invasion, but Western military aid to Ukraine that is causing the escalation. causes.

China has proposed a ceasefire and peace talks, but has not called for a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

“We are grateful for the balanced line of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) in relation to the events taking place in Ukraine,” Putin wrote in an opinion piece in the China People’s Daily newspaper.

Russia has claimed that NATO’s expansion to the east has left it with no choice but to go to war pre-emptively.

China’s position is that “the security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously.”

Economic interests are at the basis of diplomacy. Putin is keen to replace lost sales of Russian oil and gas to the EU with sales to China, and Xi is keen to buy that energy cheaply as Russian buyers dwindle.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has dismissed the Sino-Russian solidarity as a marriage of convenience, but Xi and Putin said a rare geopolitical realignment was taking place.

When Xi left Moscow, he told his host, “Right now there are changes that we haven’t seen in 100 years, and we are the ones driving these changes together.”

“I agree,” Putin said as the two men shook hands in the Kremlin doorway.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a signing ceremony at the Kremlin (Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters)

Wanted for kidnapping

The ICC on Friday charged Putin with “alleged responsibility for the war crime of the unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of the unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

The court said there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that Putin committed the crimes with others or allowed the crimes to be committed in areas under his control.

Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, was also charged.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the charges had no impact on the Russian president, because Russia is not a signatory to the court, but ICC president Piotr Hofmanski told Al Jazeera it was “completely irrelevant” that Russia violated the court’s charter, had not ratified the Statute of Rome. .

“Under the ICC statute, which has 123 States Parties, two-thirds of the entire international community, the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of a State Party or a State that has accepted its jurisdiction,” he said. “Ukraine has accepted the ICC twice – in 2014 and then in 2015.”

This means the ICC has jurisdiction over anyone who has committed crimes on the territory of Ukraine as of November 2013, regardless of nationality, Hofmanski said, so Putin and Lvova-Belova could be arrested if they travel to any of the 123 countries that have it. signed. to the statute.

Putin ally Dmitry Medvedevwho is deputy chairman of Russia’s powerful Security Council, said any attempt to arrest the Russian president would amount to a declaration of war on Russia, and raised the specter of nuclear war – something he did repeatedly during the war in Ukraine .

“Let’s imagine – this situation will never be realized, of course, but nevertheless let’s imagine that it has been realized – the current head of the nuclear state went to an area, let’s say Germany, and was arrested,” said Medvedev.

“What would that be? It would be a declaration of war on the Russian Federation,” he said in a video posted to Telegram. to the chancellor’s office.”

Days earlier, Medvedev had threatened to hit the ICC with a missile. He said on Monday: “It is quite possible to imagine a hypersonic missile being fired from the North Sea from a Russian ship at the Hague courthouse.”

“The circle around Putin is shrinking,” said a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence service Andri Yusov said. “He’s getting more and more toxic and natural to the outside world as well as the inside.”

Within the Kremlin, he said, there is increasing dissatisfaction with what is happening.

“An increasingly gloomy awareness of the prospects, namely a geopolitical catastrophe, (hangs over) the Putin regime, and so there is talk of finding a successor, and it is not Putin who is looking for him,” Yusov said .


Russia ‘running up steam’ in Bakhmut

Throughout the week, Russian forces continued to attack the town of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, making marginal gains but failing to encircle the town.

Ukrainian forces counterattacked and geolocated on Sunday film material seemed to suggest that they had succeeded in retaking the area near Ivanivske, 6 km west of Bakhmut.

Ukrainian ground forces commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Thursday that Russian troops in Bakhmut are largely exhausted and a counteroffensive in the spring is not far off.

Russian troops are “losing significant strength and gaining steam,” Syrskyi told Telegram. “Soon we will take this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kiev, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk,” he said.

Russia’s first major setback of the war was its failure to capture Kiev. The other three cities were marked by major battles that led to Ukraine retaking most of the northern region of Kharkov.

A view of Ukrainian artillery hitting a Russian launcher in Bakhmut, amid the Russian assault on Ukraine, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine in this screenshot taken from a handout video (Luhansk Border Detachment via Reuters)

Russian troops fought over Bakhmut for months, but managed to claim only the eastern half of the city.

An assessment by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War found that Russia had now deployed all of the 300,000 troops it mobilized in September and October.

“If 300,000 Russian soldiers have failed to give Russia a decisive offensive advantage in Ukraine, the deployment of additional troops in future waves of mobilization this year is highly unlikely to produce a dramatically different outcome,” the institute said.

“Ukraine is therefore well positioned to regain initiative and launch counter-offensives in critical sectors of the current front line,” it wrote in a war assessment.

deputy head of the military intelligence service of Ukraine, Vadym Skibitskyisaid on Friday that Russia was preparing for a fight in Crimea, suggesting the Russian military leadership is not confident it can keep moving forward.

“There are about 90 fighter jets, 60 helicopter gunships,” Skibitskyi said. “A defense group has been set up, which is carrying out measures for the construction of fortifications and defense lines. They are preparing for defensive actions on the territory of the peninsula.”

A representative of Ukraine’s military intelligence also said that the Russian armed forces had “chosen the most dangerous areas where a landing operation at sea could be carried out, and they are now preparing defense lines there”.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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