According to the Indonesian government, Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G20 summit in Bali. Instead, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is traveling to the meeting of the 20 major industrial nations on the Indonesian island. This was announced by Jodi Mahardi, spokesman for the Ministry of Investments responsible for coordinating the summit, on Thursday. The Kremlin chief had long left open his participation in the meeting on November 15 and 16.
At the summit, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine will be a central topic. For many, Putin’s decision came as no surprise. The Kremlin chief had ordered the invasion of the neighboring country on February 24. Despite international protests, he has annexed four areas of Ukraine in violation of international law. No country recognizes this move.
Many prominent voices in Russia sided with Russia’s commander-in-chief, General Surovikin, and praised the departure from Cheson, as ISW analyzes. A prominent Russian milblogger, who had previously criticized the conduct of the Russian operations, said that in directing the operations in the Kherson region, Surovikin “got the legacy that he got,” and suggested that under the circumstances, Surovikin would not I have done my best, so that in the end one cannot blame him.
Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin supported the withdrawal, calling it Surovikin’s “greatest achievement” because he wanted to ensure the safety of Russian troops. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov agreed with Prigozhin’s assessment, claiming that Surovikin had saved thousands of lives and was striving for more advantageous positions.
Prigozhin and Kadyrov are among the so-called “Siloviki”, the influential (military) elite around Putin. These reactions, particularly from Kadyrov and Prigozhin, differ markedly from the scathing criticism previously leveled at the grouping of Russian forces in Ukraine, Colonel-General Alexander Lapin, in the wake of massive Russian losses in eastern Kharkiv and North Donetsk oblasts .
Meanwhile, fighting on the fronts in Ukraine continues. Despite Moscow’s announced withdrawal from the southern Ukrainian city of Cherson and from the entire right bank of the Dnipro, Zelenskyy urged restraint. After the announcement, there was “a lot of joy,” he said in his daily video speech on Wednesday evening. “But our emotions have to be held back – especially during the war.” At the same time, he announced further operations without describing them in detail.
Zelenskyy pointed out that the withdrawal of the Russian occupiers was primarily due to the successes of the Ukrainian armed forces. “The enemy doesn’t give us any gifts, doesn’t make any gestures of goodwill.” No one just withdraws from anywhere “just like that”, “except under pressure”.
The Ukrainian military will continue to move “very carefully, without emotion, without unnecessary risk,” Zelensky said. And this with as few losses as possible. “In this way we will ensure the liberation of Kherson, Kakhovka, Donetsk and our other cities.”
Zelenskyy warned the decision-makers in Moscow against giving the order to blow up the Kakhovka dam above Kherson or to damage the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. “This would mean that they would declare war on the entire world.”
Under pressure from constant Ukrainian attacks, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the withdrawal of the Russian military from Kherson and the entire region around the city on Wednesday. After the failure of the advance on Kyiv and the retreat at Kharkiv, this is considered another military defeat for Russia. Moscow called the withdrawal a “military necessity” and “regrouping of forces”.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian soldiers slowly advanced in the direction of Cherson and, according to their own statements, liberated the towns of Pravdino and Kalinovskoye, which had been heavily fought over in the past few days. The Ukrainian invasion was preceded by the withdrawal of the Russians from the two towns, Ukrajinska Pravda reported.
Russian attacks hit the southern Ukrainian city of Krivyi Rih on Wednesday evening. According to the Ukrainian military administration, cassette bombs with cluster munitions from Russian rocket launchers were used. The population was called on to be particularly careful not to set off the small, cylindrical explosive devices.
The Russian side recognized that the Ukrainian armed forces were preparing to advance towards the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. For this purpose, around 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers were gathered around the city of Zaporizhia, the Tass agency quoted a representative of the occupation administration as saying. Among these troops are also about 300 commandos who have been specially trained for this mission in Great Britain. The information could not be independently verified.
The Russian military controls the nuclear power plant south of Zaporizhia, which is considered the largest nuclear facility in Europe. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying for months to set up a no-fighting zone at the plant.
The Ukrainian leadership rejected a renewed offer of talks by Moscow on Wednesday as a “new smoke screen”. “Russian officials begin offering talks whenever Russian troops suffer defeats on the battlefield,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko wrote on Facebook, referring to the announced withdrawal of Russian occupying forces from Kherson. With the new offer of dialogue, Russia is merely playing for time in order to reorganize and strengthen its troops, and then to initiate “new waves of aggression”.
In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova offered Russia’s readiness for talks “on the basis of current realities”. This meant the current status at the fronts. “We remain open to talks, we have never refused,” she said.
Kyiv has already rejected several offers of negotiations from Moscow, demanding the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, including from the Crimean peninsula, as a preliminary payment.
Also read: The Ukraine update of 9.11. – Russia attacks with cassette bombs – and withdraws from Cherson