Czech President Pavel Hints At ‘Negotiations’ As Ukraine ‘Cannot Achieve Advantage’ In War

Czech President Petr Pavel
Czech President Petr Pavel

Citing Czech publication Novinky, a report by The New Voice of Ukraine said on November 9, 2023:

Czech President Petr Pavel believes that the current situation on the battlefield in Ukraine does not suggest that Ukraine can attain military superiority against Russia.

The report said: At the Diplomacy and Security conference, Pavel noted that Russia is trying to drag out the war for as long as possible. By winning time, it is replenishing its supplies, including weapons from North Korea, and is also trying to circumvent Western sanctions.

Pavel said he believes that there could be a “start of negotiations” next year.

He also mentioned Russia’s strategy of waiting for the U.S. presidential elections next year, anticipating that it could undermine support for Ukraine.

The Czech president is confident that the West has no choice but to continue assisting Ukraine until the country determines its next steps.

“Any success of Russia will mean our failure,” Pavel added.

The report said: In spring 2023, Pavel said that Ukraine has only one attempt at a successful counter-offensive. He then clarified his statement, saying that this only concerned the counter-offensive in 2023.

On July 11, Pavel said in an interview with the New York Times that this window was due to the upcoming presidential elections in the United States and other countries allied with Ukraine.

Simultaneously, the Czech President reiterated his support for Ukraine and its sovereignty. He emphasized that he sees no alternative conclusion to the war other than a victory for Ukraine.

Pavel has consistently voiced his support for Ukraine and that his country would continue to provide aid long-term.

Ukraine Runs Out Of Volunteers To Mobilize

Another report by The New Voice of Ukraine said on November 9, 2023:

Ukraine will no longer see large swaths of individuals willing to mobilize voluntarily, as those keen on joining the military have already done so in 2022, Yuriy Butusov, Editor-in-Chief at Censor.NET said in an interview with NV Radio on Nov. 6.

“There will be no more volunteers to mobilize,” said Butusov.

“Everyone who wanted to mobilize, did that last year. People will join the military now only in accordance with the circumstances dictated by the law and their personal convictions.”

The journalist added that those who survived from the first wave of volunteers who went to join the army should be given a chance to rotate out and rest, and therefore it is essential to “immediately restructure the army.”

“This is a continuous process of changes and reforms that must adapt to the mass mobilization of people, many of whom are not volunteers,” he said.

“Most are not military professionals and are unprepared. This is a significant challenge that existed in the First and Second World Wars, and now in what might be termed the Third World War; we have to do it ourselves, to make these decisions.”

According to Butusov, “we need to think not about inspiration, about volunteers,” but about the fact that every person, including those mobilized by mandate, must receive proper training, and be used “according to their actual abilities, not someone’s imaginations.”

I Do Not Understand People, Says Zelensky 

Dogs are “always funny” and seem to be a better option for Earth than humans, considering the many conflicts around the world, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told journalists on Wednesday. 

The Ukrainian leader expressed his fondness for canines as he was wrapping up a virtual appearance at the Reuters NEXT conference. Zelensky contrasted the joy he gets from his pets with what he feels “looking at all these wars, looking at all the crises, not only Ukraine, [but] in Africa, in the Middle East.” 

“Sometimes I am looking at these and think that the best way if this planet will be the planet of dogs,” he added. “Sometimes I do not understand people, really. Just crazy, crazy people.” 

The audience took the remark as a joke.

During the event, Zelensky expressed confidence that Ukraine could deliver “battlefield results” in the conflict with Russia, contradicting some members of Kiev’s military leadership. General Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, told The Economist last week that the conflict had reached a stalemate and that there was unlikely to be a “deep and beautiful breakthrough.” 

A Time magazine profile of Zelensky, also published last week, claimed that the president’s belief in Kiev’s eventual victory over Moscow was “bordering on messianic,” while a presidential aide quoted by the outlet described the Ukrainian leader as “delusional.” 

In his video appearance at the Reuters conference, Zelensky claimed that Kiev had suffered significantly fewer casualties than Russia. 

“I can say that they are for today minimum, five times less,” the leader said, opening up one hand to stress the purported difference. 

Neither Ukraine nor Russia publishes statistics on its own casualties. A classified U.S. estimate leaked earlier this year put Russian dead and wounded at 189,500 to 223,000 as of February, compared to 124,500 to 131,000 for Ukraine. Both countries dismissed the figures. 

Kiev has since failed in a major attempt to breach Russian defensive lines, reportedly suffering significant losses in manpower and weapons. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, by late October Ukraine had lost over 90,000 troops in the counteroffensive.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Umerov Refutes Rumors Of Attempting To Sack Zaluzhnyi

A report by The New Voice of Ukraine said on November 8, 2023:

Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov never submitted a request to dismiss Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi from his post, the minister said in a Facebook post on Nov. 7.

Earlier that day, Ukrainian MP Volodymyr Ariev, citing a “reliable source,” said that Umerov had submitted a request for Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal. Russian channels quickly picked up Ariev’s social media post. Later, Ariev retracted his previous post, citing “many other sources” that allegedly contradicted the claim of his original source.

In his Facebook post, Umerov wrote that “unscrupulous politicians are trying to divide Ukrainian society.”

“The information war is a component of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine; one should not become a pawn in it, let alone abettors.”

The minister also urged everyone in Ukraine to focus on defense issues and “do everything to strengthen the Ukrainian state.”

Earlier, Zaluzhnyi in a notable series of materials for The Economist stated that the war is moving into a grueling positional phase for Ukraine. Following this, the President’s Office issued several statements with indirect rebuttals to the general.

Ukrainian President Zelensky in a later interview acknowledged that the battlefield situation is currently difficult but did not believe that the war had reached a stalemate. He suggested a potential change in Ukraine’s military strategy without specifying details.

Last week, Ukrainian Special Operations Forces commander Viktor Khorenko had been dismissed without the knowledge of Khorenko or Zaluzhnyi. The President’s Office stated that Rustem Umerov had submitted the proposal for the commander’s dismissal in accordance with the law.

Zelensky Replaces Top Commander At Defense Minister’s Request

An earlier report by The Kyiv Independent said on November 4, 2023:

Defense Minister Rustem Umerov confirmed on Nov. 4 that he had requested the replacement of Special Operations Forces commander Viktor Khorenko, which caused some confusion between the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces.

Khorenko is needed in a different job, and he would continue his service at the Defense Ministry, Umerov said on Facebook. “To comment additionally on the reasons and prerequisites for changing military leadership positions during the war is to give reasons to the enemy to weaken Ukraine.”

After President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Khorenko on Nov. 3, replacing him with Serhii Lupanchuk, the ex-commander said he learned about his dismissal from the media and was surprised.

Khorenko told Ukrainska Pravda on Nov. 3 that he asked Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi about his dismissal, and Zaluzhnyi “could not explain it to him.” According to Khorenko, Zaluzhnyi told him he didn’t request his firing.

Khorenko implied that the normal procedure of firing him would require Zaluzhnyi to file a dismissal request to Zelensky, which did not happen.

Roman Mashovets, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, told Ukrainska Pravda on Nov. 4 that such a request came from Defense Minister Umerov, which complies with Ukraine’s law on national security.

“The commanders of departments and separate branches of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are appointed and dismissed by the president of Ukraine at the request of the defense minister of Ukraine,” Mashovets reportedly said.

“Such a submission was received by the presidential office in accordance with the current legislation.”

The dismissal of Khorenko comes after Zaluzhnyi publishedan op-ed with a sobering outlook on the state of the war.

In his evening address on Nov. 3, Zelensky described Khorenko’s replacement Lupanchuk as an “experienced officer and the right person to give our Special Operations Forces more power.”

Khorenko will “continue to carry out special tasks as part of the Main Directorate of Intelligence” within the Defense Ministry, Zelensky said.

New Slovak Government Rejects Military Aid Package For Ukraine

Another report by The Kyiv Independent said on November 9, 2023:

Slovakia’s newly-appointed government has rejected delivering the 40.3-million-euro ($43.2 million) military aid package for Ukraine proposed by its predecessor, Slovak media reported on Nov. 8.

Robert Fico‘s SMER party won the parliamentary elections on Sept. 30 on a populist platform that promised to immediately end all military aid to Ukraine.

By Oct. 11, the party had formed a coalition government with left-wing Hlas party and the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party.

Slovak President Zuzana Caputova could have approved the new military aid package before Fico officially entered office, but reportedly declined on the basis that it would not honor the result of the elections, according to Slovak media.

The package intended for Ukraine included over 5,000 piece of 125mm cannon ammunition, 4 million rounds of small arms ammunition, 140 KUB air defense rockets, and 1,200 mines.

The Slovak government will help Ukraine with humanitarian aid, “not militarily,” Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok, who represents the Hlas party, said on Facebook. “We want peace, not war,” the minister said.

Media reports at the end of October already suggested that Prime Minister Robert Fico would no longer send arms to Ukraine and would also promote this stance on a European level.

Under its previous government, Slovakia provided Ukraine with extensive humanitarian and military assistance, including artillery, fighter jets, and other support.

Fico said on Nov. 6, however, that his government will not prevent arms sales from Slovak companies to Ukraine.

“If some company wants to produce arms and export them somewhere, nobody is going to prevent that, of course,” Fico said.

No American Money Left For Ukraine, Says USAID Official

The U.S. government agency overseeing Washington’s humanitarian relief program for Ukraine has warned lawmakers that funding has run out, putting Kiev at risk of economic ruin if more money is not allocated amid Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

“We have no more direct budget support,” Erin McKee, an assistant administrator for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), testified on Wednesday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington. “The last tranche was disbursed at the end of the fiscal year. This jeopardizes, particularly over the coming months, Ukraine’s ability to maintain its economic stability while it continues to fight the war. It is urgent.”

The US government’s latest fiscal year ended on September 30. Ukraine has relied on Washington not only as its biggest provider of weaponry, but also for money to meet its non-military expenses. President Joe Biden has proposed a $106 billion emergency spending bill that combines aid to help Ukraine fight Russia and Israel fight Hamas. It also includes $9.2 billion in humanitarian aid tied to both conflicts.

McKee said USAID’s help has enabled Ukraine to spend all of its own government revenue on its defense, including soldier salaries. “That means they do not have any resources to take care of their own people and govern,” she added.

Such outlays as paying teachers, police and health care workers would be suspended without new U.S. funding being approved, McKee said. A prolonged funding disruption would cripple the Ukrainian economy, she claimed, giving Russian President Vladimir Putin the upper hand in the ongoing conflict. “If their economy collapses, Putin will have won.”

Congressional opposition to Biden’s Ukraine policy has grown in recent months. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a $14 billion aid bill for Israel alone last week, leaving new funding for Ukraine to be decided separately. The Democrat-controlled Senate blocked the House bill on Tuesday, demanding that Biden’s bundled aid package be approved instead.

Congress previously approved $113 billion in Ukraine aid in four rounds of legislation. McKee warned that without the approval of a new tranche of funding, Ukraine’s government “would need to use emergency measures, such as printing money or not paying critical salaries, which could lead to hyperinflation and severely damage the war effort.”

Ukraine ‘Cannot Dream’ of EU Without Resolving Volyn Victims’ Exhumations, Says Polish Official

A report by The Kyiv Independent said on November 8, 2023:

Ukraine “cannot dream of joining the European Union” without resolving the issue of the exhumation of Volyn massacre victims’ remains on Ukrainian territory, the Polish Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary of State Pawel Jablonski said on Nov. 7.

“In my opinion, without a solution to this issue – and many Ukrainians are already aware of this – Ukraine cannot dream of joining the European Union,” the official of the outgoing Polish government said in an interview with Radio ZET.

“Therefore, we will absolutely emphasize that without a solution to this issue, there will be no long-term reconciliation with Ukraine.”

When asked directly whether the issue of exhumations would be a condition of Warsaw’s backing for Kyiv’s EU accession, Jablonski answered he does “not like talking about conditions” but added that cooperation would be difficult without resolving the problem.

In the spring and summer of 1943, members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the military branch of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), massacred thousands of Poles in Nazi-occupied Volyn, a region that used to be part of Poland and is now part of Ukraine. Thousands of Ukrainians were killed in retaliation.

Ukrainian historian Serhii Plokhy, director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University, estimates that the number of Polish victims of the massacre varies from 60,000 to 90,000.

The number of Ukrainians killed by Poles in the 1940s is estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000, including between 2,000 and 3,000 in Volyn, according to Polish historian Grzegorz Motyka.

Since 2016, July 11, a pivotal day in the massacre, sometimes called “Bloody Sunday,” has been recognized by Poland as the National Day of Remembrance of Genocide Victims. Ukraine denies the term “genocide” to describe the Volyn massacre.

Zelensky promised in 2019 to lift the Ukrainian moratorium on the exhumation of Volyn victims, imposed in reaction to cases of destruction of UPA memorials in Poland.

Poland’s head of state, Andrzej Duda, said in August that obtaining permission for the exhumations plays a crucial role in Polish-Ukrainian relations.

Germany To Withdraw Patriot Air Defense Units From Poland

A Reuters report said:

Germany is set to end the deployment of three Patriot air defense units to Poland after almost a year, the defense ministry in Berlin said on Wednesday, confirming earlier plans.

Together with the Patriot systems, some 300 German soldiers have also been based in the Polish town of Zamosc, about 50 km (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border, since the start of the year to protect the southern town and its crucial railway link to Ukraine.

The deployment was triggered by a stray Ukrainian missile that struck the Polish village of Przewodow in the region last November, in an incident that raised fears of the war in Ukraine spilling over the border.

The German ministry had said in August that the deployment was unlikely to extend beyond the end of this year as the Patriots would either be needed for use by NATO’s rapid reaction response force in 2024 or would have to undergo maintenance.

The German soldiers will wrap up their operations on Friday and start redeploying from next week, the ministry said.

“I am very happy about the friendly and appreciative reception our soldiers in Zamosc were granted by the Polish military and the people living there,” German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said.

Relations between Germany and Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party have been strained over a range of topics – from arms deliveries to Kyiv to an EU migration deal rejected by Warsaw.

Poland appears to be headed for a change of government after an October 15 election in which PiS won the most seats in the lower house of parliament but fell short of a majority. All other parties have ruled out forming a coalition with it.

Kiev’s Top General Criticized For Causing ‘Panic’ In West

Ukraine’s commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny should have kept his thoughts about the “stalemate” in the conflict with Russia to himself, Igor Zhovkva, the deputy head of President Vladimir Zelensky’s office, has said. He also lamented that Zaluzhny’s comments have rattled some of Kiev’s backers in the West.

Speaking on national TV on Friday, Zhovkva expressed his displeasure with Zaluzhny’s interview with The Economist published earlier this week. Speaking to the British magazine, the top commander, who has been in charge of the country’s military since 2021, compared the Ukraine conflict with World War I and suggested that both sides had reached a level of technological prowess that makes “a deep and beautiful breakthrough” very unlikely.

The general also pointed out that “the biggest risk of an attritional trench war is that it can drag on for years and wear down the Ukrainian state.” 

Zhovkva argued that “the last thing I would do is comment for the press… about what is happening at the front [and] what could happen at the front,” adding that this kind of revelation plays right into Russia’s hands.

The official also pointed out that Zaluzhny’s comments did not go unnoticed in the West. “I received a call from one of the heads of the offices of the leaders [of partner countries], and they asked in a panic: ‘What should I report to my leader? Are you really at a dead end?’ Is this what we wanted to achieve with this article?” he asked.

The criticism of Zaluzhny came as Ukraine’s large-scale counteroffensive that has been underway since early summer has failed to gain any substantial ground. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has estimated Ukraine’s losses at more than 90,000 soldiers while claiming that Kiev’s troops are suffering from low morale.

Time magazine reported last month that some Ukrainian officials believe that Zelensky has become “delusional” in his desire to defeat Russia at all costs. “We are out of options. We are not winning. But try telling him that,” one aide told the magazine. It also reported that the Ukrainian leader was looking for scapegoats after the counteroffensive failed to achieve the desired results.

The article sparked outrage in Kiev, with National Security Council chief Aleksey Danilov suggesting that those in the Ukrainian government who have any doubts about the country’s ultimate victory should be sacked.

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