As many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “well over” 100,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured since the invasion of Moscow less than nine months ago, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Army General Mark Milley’s estimate came shortly before Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Thursday that its troops had begun to withdraw from Kherson, Ukraine’s crucial port city and only regional capital. which Russia had seized in the conflict.
Milley, who estimated Ukraine’s losses were also in the six figures, said Russia had amassed up to 30,000 troops in Kherson. A full retreat, he said, could take several weeks.
“Early indicators are that they are in fact doing it,” Milley told the Economic Club of New York. “I think they are doing it to preserve their strength, to restore the defensive lines south of the (Dnieper), but that remains to be seen.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Thursday that the United States was closely monitoring whether the Russians were actually withdrawing from Kherson, which would represent a “significant military milestone” for Kyiv forces.
“If this happens, it will mean in the Battle of Kyiv, in the Battle of Kherson, in the Battle of Kharkiv, the Ukrainians will have prevailed against an invading and marauding force that waged an illegal war in their country,” ” Sullivan said. “But of course it’s not the end of the war.”
►Russian forces shelled the southern town of Nikopol and nearby areas overnight, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. The nearby region of Zaporizhzhia, home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, was also bombed, according to Ukraine’s presidential office. Russia has occupied the factory for months.
►Russia and forces it controls have committed war crimes and likely crimes against humanity by unlawfully expelling civilians from occupied parts of Ukraine, Amnesty International said in a report Thursday.
►Britain has frozen assets held by Russian oligarchs, other individuals and entities sanctioned for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which together amount to $20.5 billion, the UK government has said.
US provides air defense weapons and will not press Ukraine to negotiate, official says
To counter Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with drones and missiles, the Biden administration on Thursday announced a new security aid package that focuses on air defense, including American Avenger missiles and systems.
Making the announcement during a White House briefing, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States wanted to improve Ukrainians’ chances on the battlefield so they were in the best position possible. to negotiate a peace agreement when the time comes.
He also said the United States was not pressuring Ukraine to start peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The The Washington Post reported Last week, the administration encouraged Ukrainian officials to signal that they were open to such an idea, primarily to maintain support from other nations that might be wary of a protracted war.
“As the president said yesterday, we are guided by a very simple principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” Sullivan said. “It is ultimately up to Ukraine to make decisions on its diplomatic course.”
Ukrainians overwhelmingly see prosperity in the nation’s future
Nearly 90% of Ukrainians believe that in 10 years Ukraine will be a prosperous country within the European Union, according to a survey by the International Institute of Sociology in Kyiv. Respondents were asked to choose an optimistic or pessimistic scenario for the future of Ukraine. Among those who chose an optimistic scenario, 63% fully shared the expectation of a prosperous country within the EU, and 26% said they were less certain but still thought it was in the future from Ukraine.
The telephone survey of 1,000 Ukrainians across the country drew only 5% of respondents who believed that in 10 years Ukraine will be a devastated country with an exodus of people.
“Given our own observations and experience of conducting surveys over many years, we remain optimistic that, for the most part, respondents answer the questions truthfully,” the researchers said in their report. .
Putin will skip the Group of 20 Summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G20 summit in Indonesia next week, an Indonesian government official said Thursday. Putin’s decision will avoid a possible confrontation with the United States and its allies during the war. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, head of G-20 events support, said Putin’s decision was “the best for all of us”.
President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders are due to attend the two-day summit, which begins on Tuesday. Biden and Xi have announced their intention to meet privately at the event to “discuss efforts to maintain and deepen the lines of communication between the United States and the PRC, responsibly manage competition, and work together where our interests align, particularly on the transnational challenges affecting the international community”.
The United States would not supply Ukraine with elite drones
The Biden administration will not supply Ukraine with advanced Gray Eagle MQ-1C drones due to concerns about the escalation of the war, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed US officials and others close to the Biden. case. Russia has been pounding Ukrainian energy facilities with Iranian-made explosive drones for weeks. But US officials are reluctant to supply Ukraine with weapons that could hit targets in Russia.
Contributor: The Associated Press