As fierce fighting continues on Ukrainian battlefields with no respite over the holiday season, the Kremlin’s propaganda war is intensifying.
Two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready to negotiate a peace treaty, saying “it’s not us who reject talks, it’s them,” one of his top officials said on Tuesday that Ukraine must demilitarize. or “the Russian army will (resolve) the issue.”
The threat by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared to ignore Ukraine’s many achievements in the counteroffensive it launched in early September, supported by US-supplied weapons, and could be aimed at boosting Russian troop morale. .
“The ball is in the side of the (Kyiv) regime and Washington is behind it,” Lavrov told the state news agency Tass about a possible end date for the war. “They can stop the senseless resistance at any time.”
That resistance has allowed Ukraine to recapture the northeastern Kharkiv region, as well as Kherson in the south, the only regional capital the Russians had captured. After being driven out of Kherson, the invading forces have been shelling the city from across the Dnipro River. Kherson was hit 11 times on Monday as part of the ongoing shelling of the region of the same name, said regional administrator Yaroslav Yanushevich.
Instead of issuing threats, “Russia must face reality,” the Ukrainian president said. adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.
“Neither full mobilization, nor the search for ammunition in a panic, nor secret contracts with Iran, nor Lavrov’s threats will help,” Podolyak said. “Ukraine will demilitarize the RF (Russian Federation) to the end, it will expel the invaders from all the occupied territories. Wait for the end in silence…”
►Putin signed a decree on Tuesday banning oil exports to countries that support a $60 per barrel price ceiling imposed by the United States and its allies with the aim of reducing Russia’s ability to finance the war.
►Moscow said it shot down a Ukrainian drone approaching an airbase in the Saratov region deep in Russia, the second time the facility in Engels has been attacked this month.
►Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is pushing for a peace summit in two months with the mediation of UN Secretary General António Guterres, but told The Associated Press that he does not expect Russia to participate.
Heavy fighting rages in the eastern provinces
The most intense current fighting is concentrated in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, two of the four provinces that Russia claimed to illegally annex in late September, along with Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Russian forces are trying to encircle the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, but to no avail.
Heavy battles are also taking place around the city of Kreminna in the Lugansk region, Governor Serhiy Haidai said. Retaking Kreminna would represent a major victory for Ukraine and a significant step towards its goal of liberating the Lugansk province from Russian control.
Despite all of Russia’s missteps in Ukraine, China stands firmly behind the Kremlin and pushes past the US.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country would “deepen strategic mutual trust and win-win cooperation” with Russia a week after the two countries’ warships held joint naval exercises in the Sea. from East China.
Wang also defended China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and join the US and EU sanctions, which has led to a growing distancing from China by much of Europe. He blamed the United States for the deteriorating relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
Contributing: The Associated Press