The Biden administration is privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is removed from power, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The leading U.S. daily quoted unnamed people familiar with the discussions as saying that the request by U.S. officials was not aimed at pushing Ukraine to the negotiating table, but a calculated attempt to ensure Kyiv maintains the support of other nations facing constituencies wary of fueling a war for many years to come.

The Washington Post report said the discussions illustrated the complexity of the Biden administration’s position on Ukraine, as U.S. officials publicly vow to support Kyiv with massive sums of aid “for as long as it takes” while hoping for a resolution to the eight-month conflict that has taken a big toll on the world economy and triggered fears of nuclear war.

The paper said U.S. officials shared the assessment of their Ukrainian counterparts that Putin is not for now serious about negotiations, but acknowledged that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s ban on talks with him had generated concern in parts of Europe, Africa and Latin America, where the war’s effects on costs of food and fuel are felt most sharply.

“Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners,” the Post quoted one unnamed U.S. official as saying.

The White House National Security Council had no immediate comment when asked if the report was accurate, while a spokesperson for the State Department responded by saying:

“We have said it before and will say it again: Actions speak louder than words. If Russia is ready for negotiation, it should stop its bombs and missiles and withdraw its forces from Ukraine.”

The spokesperson also noted remarks by Zelenskiy on Friday, in which he said: “We are ready for peace, for a fair and just peace, the formula of which we have voiced many times.”

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said during a visit to Kyiv on Friday that Washington’s support for Ukraine would remain “unwavering and unflinching” following next Tuesday’s midterm congressional elections.

U.S. And Russia Discussed Containing War

Citing a report by The Wall Street Journal, a Bloomberg report said:

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and senior Russian counterparts have held talks in recent months on guarding against the risk of escalation and warn Moscow against using nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing US and allied officials.

A settlement of the war in Ukraine wasn’t an aim of the discussions, according to the report.

Sullivan alluded to U.S.-Russian contacts after Russian leaders suggested that nuclear weapons might be an option in its war against Ukraine. “We do have the capacity to speak directly at senior levels and to be clear about our messages to them and to receive their messages,” Sullivan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sept. 25. “That has happened frequently over the course of the past few months.”

Ukraine Deputy PM Vows to ‘Keep Fighting’

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister told an Italian newspaper that “there is no peace because Russians do not want it,” and that if Europe should “betray” its support for Ukraine, the entire Western world would be at risk.

“The only way to reach peace in this phase is to keep fighting,” Iryna Vereshchuk told Corriere della Sera in an interview published on Sunday. “If we stop fighting, we will disappear as people and as a nation.”

Her comments came as the Washington Post reported the U.S. is privately pressing Kyiv to show an openness to talks with Russia as “Ukraine fatigue” sets in among some allies.

Biden, Scholz Reaffirm Support for Ukraine

U.S. President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reaffirmed support for Ukraine during a call on Sunday, according to both governments.

“The leaders agreed that Russia’s recent nuclear threats are irresponsible,” the White House said in a statement. “They underscored the continued commitment of the United States and Germany to provide Ukraine with the economic, humanitarian, and security support it needs to defend against Russia’s aggression.”

Kiev Cannot Be Forced On Talks, German President Says

Germany cannot “decide on Ukraine’s behalf” if or when to start negotiations with Russia, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. “Ukraine must say when it wants to hold such negotiations, when it considers them promising,” Steinmeier told ARD public television.

Zelenskiy, Von der Leyen Discuss Financial Support

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke on Sunday with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, focused on ensuring financial support for Ukraine in the months ahead, on the Black Sea grain initiative, and on sanctions.

Von der Leyen said she would propose an EU financial package this week of as much as €1.5 billion a month to a maximum of €18 billion, to help cover Ukraine’s financing needs for 2023, according to a readout.

The highly concessional long-term loans, with coverage of interest, would also support Ukraine’s reforms and its path toward EU membership, according to the readout.

Power Out for More Than 4.5 Millions In Kiev

More than 4.5 million consumers are without power, most of them in Kiev and the Kiev region, Zelenskiy said Sunday in his nightly video address.

Ukraine’s power generation has been severely damaged by weeks of Russian missile and drone attacks. “It is indeed difficult,” Zelenskiy said.

Kyiv Considers Total Evacuation If It Loses Electricity: Says New York Times

Officials in Ukraine’s capital have begun planning for a possible complete evacuation of its 3 million remaining residents if it loses electricity supplies, blackout that would require the New York Times reported.

The New York Times report said:

As they struggle to maintain an electricity grid heavily damaged by Russian missiles, officials in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, say they have begun planning for a once unthinkable possibility: a complete blackout that would require the evacuation of the city’s approximately three million remaining residents.

The situation is already so dire, with 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure damaged or destroyed, that municipal workers are setting up 1,000 heating shelters that can double as bunkers while engineers try to fix bombed-out power stations without the needed equipment.

To try to keep the grid from failing altogether, Ukraine’s national energy utility said on Saturday that it would continue to impose rolling blackouts in seven regions.

The tremendous strain on Ukraine’s ability to provide power is the result of the widespread bombardment by Russian forces of critical energy infrastructure across the country.

“We understand that if Russia continues such attacks, we may lose our entire electricity system,” Roman Tkachuk, the director of security for the Kyiv municipal government, said in an interview, speaking of the city.

Officials in the capital have been told that they would be likely to have at least 12 hours’ notice that the grid was on the verge of failure. If it reaches that point, Mr. Tkachuk said, “we will start informing people and requesting them to leave.”

For now at least, the situation is manageable, and there were no indications that large numbers of civilians were fleeing Kyiv, he said. But that would change quickly if the services that relied on city power stopped.

As winter approaches, the city is preparing 1,000 heating shelters that can also protect civilians from Russian missiles. Most are inside educational facilities, but the authorities have asked that their precise locations not be reported lest they become easy targets.

Ukraine’s national electric utility, Ukrenergo, confirmed on Saturday the need to continue rolling blackouts, saying they were necessary to “reduce the load on the networks, ensure sustainable balancing of the power system and avoid repeated accidents after the power grids were damaged by Russian missile and drone attacks.”

No Grounds for Evacuation, Kiev’s Mayoral Office Says

The situation in Kiev is under control, the mayoral office said on its website, hours after a New York Times report that contingency plans are being made for a possible mass evacuation if power fails completely following recent repeated Russian miss.

“There are no grounds to talk about evacuation now,” said Roman Tkachuk, Kiev’s municipal security chief. “Yes, we work on different plans, we train people to act and be prepared. It is important to avoid chaos and minimize risks for people.”

Kiev Mayor Urges Residents To Stock Up Essentials

Speaking on television Saturday night, Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said he was “asking everyone to stock up on drinking water, technical water, power banks, food, warm clothes,” and that the city is “making calculations for different scenarios.”

The former heavyweight boxing champion spoke as the New York Times reported that Ukraine’s capital is planning for a potential total evacuation if power and water supplies are cut off.

“I am asking people to prepare for a bad scenario in case of total cut off of water and power supply,” he said, adding that Russia, through its ongoing airstrikes on key infrastructure, is “doing everything to deprive the city of electricity and water.”

Retreat Or Trick

A report by MSN — Russia plans a retreat, but Ukraine cautions the move could be a ‘trick’ — the latest updates of the war — (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/russia-plans-a-retreat-but-ukraine-cautions-the-move-could-be-a-trick-%E2%80%94-the-latest-updates-of-the-war/ar-AA13Kqmw) said:

Groundwork and preparations have been laid out for a Russian retreat from Kherson. Politico reports that Ukrainian forces have advanced in gaining back the region and have forced Russia into the defensive.

Russian troops are less visible on the west side of Kherson, but Ukrainians are approaching this pullback with caution, per USA Today. “Most likely, our units, our troops will go to the left (east) bank,” Kremlin head of Kherson Kirill Stremousov said on Russian TV.

Ukraine’s southern military spokesperson, Natalie Humeniuk, said that the nation is aware of Russia’s tactics and “should not be in a hurry to rejoice.” Humeniuk said that Ukraine is afraid the possible retreat could be a Russian “trick,” per Politico.

Thousands March In Italy: Demand End Arms Supply To Kiev

Crowds of people poured onto the streets of Rome on Saturday to call for peace in Ukraine. The demonstrators also demanded that the Italian government stop providing Kiev with weapons and engage with Russia diplomatically instead.

The rally saw tens of thousands of people turn out, including members of labor unions and Catholic associations, students and a variety of other activists.

They were carrying rainbow flags bearing the words “peace” and “non-violence.” Other slogans heard and seen during the demonstration included “Weapons down, wages up,” “Enough arms to Ukraine” and “We do not want war. No weapons, no sanctions. Where is diplomacy?”

Former Italian prime minister and Five Star party leader Giuseppe Conte, who attended the rally, called into question the recently sworn-in government’s approach to conflict resolution in the Eastern European country.

“Ukraine is now fully armed – we need a breakthrough towards a ceasefire and peace negotiations,” he said, adding that the current “strategy is leading only to escalation.”

One demonstrator was quoted by the Financial Times as saying: “I am absolutely against sending new weapons to Ukraine. Today, people want peace with weapons. It is inconceivable. Ukraine has the right to defend itself, but we need a big UN initiative for peace.”

Another protester lamented that “sending weapons does not help stop war, weapons help fuel a war.”

Counter-protest

A counter-protest was held around the same time in the city of Milan, organized by the leader of the centrist Azione party, Carlo Calenda, with support from Italy’s Ukrainian community.

Hundreds of activists took part in the gathering, questioning whether protesters in Rome were really “pro-peace,” or in fact “pro-Putin.” They argued that “those who call for peace but also to disarm Ukraine call for the surrender of Ukraine.”

Germans Want Diplomacy, Not Conflict

More than half of Germans want their government to increase diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the Ukraine conflict, a recent opinion poll has shown. Over 70% of respondents believe there is no need for Berlin to further ramp up its weapons supplies to Kiev.

Conducted by the broadcaster ARD and published on Thursday, the latest DeutschlandTrend survey indicated that some 55% of Germans believe that Berlin is not doing enough diplomacy-wise to secure a peace agreement between Kiev and Moscow. The share of people espousing this view has risen by 14 percentage points since June.

Amid Ukraine’s renewed calls for Germany to provide it with yet more weaponry, the pollster asked people if they would back additional deliveries.

In response, 41% replied by saying that the current level of support is sufficient, while another 30% believe that Berlin has already gone overboard.

Overall, 47% of Germans consider Ukraine a trustworthy partner – down 16 percentage points from the figure reported in March. However, the share of those holding such a view of Russia is 10%, the survey indicated.

The poll revealed that the German population is split in its view of the sanctions that Berlin has imposed on Moscow since late February, with 37% wanting Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government to further tighten the screws on the Kremlin, whereas 31% are satisfied with the current level of sanctions, and 23% think Berlin should not have gone as far as it has.

Among Germans’ top concerns are rising prices, with some 66% of those polled believing that if the current trend continues unabated, they may end up not being able to pay their bills, the study found.

Ukraine’s Environmental Losses $37 Billion

“Even this insane amount does not reflect the real picture,” the Accounting Chamber, an audit body of the Ukrainian parliament, said on Facebook as it estimated environmental losses at 1.35 trillion hryvnia ($37 billion).

The amount of harmful emissions from forest fires, fuel burning and blazes at at industrial companies has exceeded 67 million tons this year, compared with annual 2.2 million tons in two previous years, the chamber said.

The total of 3 million hectares or one third of Ukraine’s total forested areas have been effected, and losses were termed irreversible. in some cases. About one-third of Ukrainian territory requires mine clearing, which may take at least ten years.

Ukraine’s Western allies have stepped up their pledges to provide the country with more air defenses. But putting them in place has been challenging, and opposition to the aid effort is bubbling up in the West as many countries face their own economic headwinds.

U.S. and European Leaders Remain Unswayed

Buttressing that pledge on Friday was an announcement by the U.S. Defense Department that it was setting up a new command to oversee how the United States and its allies train and equip the Ukrainian military.

It also announced a new package of $400 million in security assistance, bringing to a total of $18.9 billion the military assistance that the U.S. has committed to Ukraine.

The Pentagon’s new commitments show that the United States expects the threat that Russia poses to Ukraine and its neighbors to persist for many years, current and former senior U.S. officials said.

Ukraine Hits Dam

Russian media said Ukraine struck the Kakhovka dam north of Kherson with a missile on Sunday, without causing major damage.

There was no comment from Kiev.

The Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River was hit Sunday by a Ukrainian strike from US-donated HIMARS rockets, according to Russia’s the state-run Tass news agency. The damage was termed non-critical.

Russian Troops Intensified Efforts To Capture Territory Near Bakhmut

Russian troops have intensified their efforts to capture territory near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. The strategic value of the heavily-bombarded town is unclear. Kremlin forces continued to set up defensive positions along the left bank of the Dnipro River, according to the Institute for the Study of War, as the situation in Kherson remains in the balance. Kiev’s troops continue to target Russian logistics and transportation equipment in the Kherson region.

Russian media reported ten towns and villages in the Kherson region, including Kherson itself, were left without electricity after “sabotage.”

Grain Deal, Russia Re-joins

Russia rejoined an agreement allowing the shipment of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, one of the few areas of cooperation amid the war, easing uncertainty over the fate of a deal seen as crucial to preventing famine in other parts of the world.

Seven Ships Pass Grain Corridor Over Weekend Seven inbound vessels transited the Ukraine crop corridor over the weekend, according to a statement from the Joint Coordination Centre, which facilitates the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Only two vessels under the initiative are currently at Ukrainian ports, it said.

On Sunday, the Istanbul-based center cleared two outbound vessels and seven inbound vessels for transit to Ukraine, while inspections on two more outbound vessels were halted on “various grounds.” Inspections on three outbound vessels were also suspended on Saturday due to fumigation issues, while eight inbound ships were cleared, it said.

G7’s Plan

The Group of 7 nations announced that they would work together to rebuild critical infrastructure in Ukraine that has been destroyed by Russia’s military and to defend such sites from further attacks.

Refugees

The war has sent the numbers of Ukrainians seeking shelter in Europe soaring, pushing asylum seekers from other conflicts to the end of the line.

Sanctions On Iran

The EU and Britain have imposed new sanctions on Iran over the attack drones, and the U.S. is considering its own sanctions on top of those already in place over nuclear weapons concerns.

According to the Iranian state news media, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Amirabdollahian, pushed back on Saturday on accusations from Western nations that Iran had supplied Russia with drones to use in Ukraine.

The deliveries in question took place months before the invasion, Amirabdollahian said. He did not give any details on the types or numbers of drones provided.

The statement appeared to be an effort to protect Iran from even greater sanctions from Western nations than those that have already profoundly weakened its economy.

But it was unlikely to change the strong perception in Western capitals that Iran backed Russia’s war effort.


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