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Kremlin comments on claims about Russian military casualties

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Friday, July 29, 2022
  • 74 Impressed

Kremlin comments on claims about Russian military casualties

 

Dhaka July 29 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on July 29 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Russia responds to hype over US prisoner swap offer

The interests of both sides must be taken into account during talks on a possible exchange, Moscow says

There have so far been no tangible results in negotiations on swapping prisoners with the US, the Kremlin and Russian Foreign Ministry have said.

The comments were made in response to a claim by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said on Wednesday that Washington had made a “substantial offer” to Moscow several weeks ago to secure the release of basketball star Brittney Griner, who is now on trial for drug charges in Russia, and Paul Whelan, who is jailed for espionage.

According to CNN’s sources, the Biden administration suggested swapping the two Americans for Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who had been sentenced to 25 years in the US on accusations of smuggling weapons that had later been used against American troops.

“What we know is that so far there have been no agreements in this area,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

He acknowledged that Moscow was aware of “reports and statements” about a possible prisoner exchange but added that “when those issues are being discussed such information leaks don’t happen.” The public is only notified about “already fulfilled agreements,” he pointed out.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said that the talks were being carried out by “the relevant ministries.”

“No concrete results have been reached yet,” she concluded, adding that Moscow believes that “the interests of both sides should be taken into account” during the negotiations on such issues.

In April, Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who spent some 12 years in an American prison on charges of smuggling drugs, was exchanged for former US marine Trevor Reed, who had been serving a nine-year sentence in Russia for a drunken assault on police officers.

The swap became possible after a “lengthy negotiation process,” according to Russian diplomats.

 

Russia opens ‘Children of Asia’ games

Russia has formally opened the 2022 edition of the ‘Children of Asia’ games, which is being held in Vladivostok. A message from Russian President Vladimir Putin was among those to be read out to participants at the Opening Ceremony on Thursday.

This year’s event is the seventh edition of the international sporting showpiece and runs from July 28 to August 8.

It will bring together around 1,500 athletes from 14 Asian countries and various Russian regions to compete across 19 different sports, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko.

The games, which are for competitors aged between 13 and 16, are held with the support of the Russian president and government agencies, as well as the Olympic Council of Asia. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UNESCO serve as patrons.

Thursday’s colorful Opening Ceremony followed an equally vibrant show at the Athletes’ Village one day previously.

In an address read out on his behalf on Thursday, President Putin welcomed the participants and praised the competition as promoting Olympic principles, developing international humanitarian cooperation, and strengthening friendships and personal ties.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, who participated in the torch relay, said the games provided his country with another chance to showcase its hospitality.

“The ‘Children of Asia’ provides another opportunity to be together, to show the hospitality of the Far East and our country. The flame of the games, as a symbol of unification, emphasizes that together we become stronger,” Matytsin said.

The event was first held in Yakutia in 1996 to honor the centenary of the modern Olympic movement.

Since then, more than 10,000 young athletes have taken part in the past six editions, including a number of future Olympic champions.

Russia insists that it is open to international sporting cooperation despite the bans imposed by numerous federations in response to the military operation in Ukraine.

Russian officials have decried the bans as discriminatory and contrary to the principles of sport being free from political influence.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Too little too late: Ex-Ukrainian Envoy says regretting his Bandera statement — Readovka.world

Effi Stounem

Melnik’s recall from Germany confirmed Putin’s statements about the Nazi regime in Ukraine.

«I underestimated the emotional significance of this sensitive topic», – former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Melnyk said his words about Bandera were a mistake.

Former Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrei Melnik told Die Zeit that his statement about Ukrainian nationalist Bandera’s noninvolvement in the mass murder of Jews and Poles, made in an interview to the YouTube channel Jung & Naiv, was a mistake.

«I probably underestimated the emotional significance of this extremely sensitive topic, especially for our Polish friends. That was a mistake. I didn’t mean to offend anyone», – Melnyk said.

When asked by a journalist whether the real reason for his dismissal was related to this statement, Melnik replied, «I don’t know, to be honest, there must have been a connection».

Melnyk has confirmed that he did lay flowers on Bandera’s tomb in Munich in 2015, two months after he took up his post as envoy. However, he immediately stated that he had never been a nationalist. In his opinion, Ukrainians should ask themselves whether it is normal for the German ambassador to lay flowers on the graves of Wehrmacht soldiers in Ukraine on a day of national mourning, who were involved in Nazi crimes during World War II on an equal footing with Nazi organizations.

As Readovka reported, the Japanese magazine Shukan Gendai conducted a study and concluded that Melnik’s recall from Germany confirmed Putin’s statements about the Nazi regime in Ukraine.

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Kremlin comments on claims about Russian military casualties

Even the most reputable newspapers do not shun fake news, the Kremlin spokesman said, commenting on a NYT report

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has rejected a New York Times report on the scale of Russia’s losses in Ukraine, saying that in the current situation even the most reputable papers may disseminate false information.

“This is not a statement by the US administration, this is a newspaper report,” he said. “These days, even the most reputable newspapers do not shun spreading various fakes. Unfortunately, such practices have become increasingly common. This is the way we should treat it.”

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that the Biden administration believes that Russia had lost as many as 75,000 soldiers killed or wounded in action during the Ukraine conflict. As a source, the outlet cited an anonymous legislator that had allegedly seen a classified briefing from the State Department, Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Meanwhile, The Times cautioned that casualty estimates for militaries on both sides are highly speculative, noting that figures may differ by tens of thousands.

The last time Russia officially updated its losses was on March 25, when the Defense Ministry reported that 1,351 military personnel had been killed and 3,825 wounded in combat since the beginning of the offensive in Ukraine. In June, the head of the Russian Duma’s Defense Committee, Andrey Kartapolov, claimed that, due to changes in military strategy, the Russian Army has “practically ceased to lose people.”

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has conceded that his nation’s armed forces are sustaining heavy losses. Last week, he said that Kiev loses around 30 personnel in combat a day, which is significantly less than in May and June, when the death toll amounted to 100-200 troops a day.

On July 4, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that over the previous two weeks alone, Ukraine had lost almost 5,500 troops, including more than 2,000 killed.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

Ukraine bombards Donetsk with landmines – mayor

The Donbass official urged residents to stay vigilant for banned explosive devices

Ukrainian forces airdropped banned PFM-1 anti-personnel landmines on the capital of the Donetsk People’s Republic on Wednesday night, Mayor Aleksey Kulemzin said.

The mayor wrote on his Telegram channel that mines were discovered on several streets in the northwestern part of the city.

“A bomb squad and rescuers have been working on the site since the early morning. A vehicle equipped with a loudspeaker is alerting local residents,” Kulemzin said, urging people to be vigilant and not approach the mines.

The small butterfly-shaped PFM-1 landmines are banned under the 1997 Ottawa Convention, of which Ukraine is part. Even when they do not kill the victim when stepped on, they often rip the person’s foot off.

Earlier, Lugansk People’s Republic authorities reported finding the PFM-1s in places left by Ukrainian troops after retreating.

Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of using internationally banned munitions, as well as shelling residential areas and other civilian targets.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

INSIGHTS

 

Timofey Bordachev: The UN is no longer fit for purpose, but should it be abolished or reformed?

By Valdai Club Programme Director Timofei Bordachev

The global body was created by the winners of humanity’s most destructive war, but that was 80 years ago

The United Nations is a product of Western intellectual common sense, which after the Second World War created relatively fair conditions in order to maintain its centrality in international politics.

The fact that Western countries are now losing this position is for natural reasons. This inevitably affects their ability to project influence in world affairs, which was based not on formal status, but on unique capabilities of power.

The contraction of these advantages, the consequences of which we are now clearly witnessing, cannot bypass institutions created in a previous era.

This means that the fate of the UN will in any case come into question. The only issue is who decides to raise the subject and for what purpose – the West (in order to preserve its position in the emerging world) or the other great powers (in order to create institutions more in line with the reality of international politics)? A third option is also possible – a new cycle, in which there is little scope for a monopoly position of a narrow group of countries, will have no need for the traditional institutions of international governance at all.

We should not be confused by the fact that powers now as hostile as Russia or China to the Western community are members of the ruling circle of the UN system – as permanent members of the Security Council (UNSC).

“The UN’s ability to really run the world has always remained largely an illusion.”

The real reason for these two states to retain this status was the rational desire of the US and its closest allies to avoid a repeat of the situation in which powers perceived to be dangerous to global stability were excluded from formal institutions. The lesson of the destruction that emerged from Versailles after World War I by an aggrieved Germany and Japan was well learned – in both theory and practice.

All the more so because the presence of the USSR and (after the Communist Party had succeeded in asserting its authority) China at the Security Council table did not increase their competitive advantage. Where they were tactically stronger than the US, it was not because of their formal status (not to mention that when official Beijing was allowed into the body, its relations with Moscow were openly hostile, with the two then-socialist powers blocking each other.)

There is no doubt that on occasion, the permanent members of the UNSC have been able to act as an all-powerful ‘world government’, defining for the weaker members of the international community the boundaries of what is allowed.

But this institution has never dealt with questions of war and peace between its members. This mission has always remained the privilege of bilateral relations, determined by the ‘real’ rather than ‘formal’ balance of power.

This is still the case today – the only ‘institution’ in Russia-US relations is their capacity for mutual assured destruction. The Security Council can only reflect the real balance of power in the world, which is much broader and more diverse than the Moscow-Washington confrontation.

However, it is precisely this possibility that it is now lacking as a result of its composition, which pursues, not ‘global governance’, but ‘global containment’ of both Russia and China by maintaining the hegemonic position of the West.

This statement may seem paradoxical, since Russia and China have the same rights in the Security Council as the other three permanent members. This is true, but beyond the purely legal status that confers veto power on the quintet, there is the practical ability to influence world governance through the control of procedural practices (personnel assignments in the international bureaucracy, for example).

Here too, the US and its allies had an enormous advantage at the creation of the UN in 1945, and retain it to a large extent due to the inertia of the institution itself. As a result, the inclusion of Moscow and Beijing in the most important mechanism restrains their hypothetical revolutionary behavior, but does not provide them with the same degree of influence on world governance as the West.

In other words, the UNSC is becoming a very sophisticated form of deterrence which is carried out by granting two adversary countries a special status. This status narrows their scope for independent behavior and separates them from the rest of the international community. For the latter, the status is a privilege that the self-appointed ‘world elite’ has arrogated to itself and which it refuses to share. Thus, in its modern form, the UNSC is a way to maintain the monopoly of the US and Western Europe in international politics.

The world is indeed changing, and not only as a result of the dynamics of power relations between the Great Powers. While Russia’s military assertiveness and China’s economic weight remain the main battering rams against the international system led by the West, their actions are not determinants of the irreversibility of change. Otherwise, the revisionism of Moscow and Beijing would repeat the fate of revolutionary France in the early 19th century, or of Germany and Japan, which rebelled in the second quarter of the previous century against the injustice of the world order of that time. But we already see that this is not a likely prospect, precisely because the majority of developing countries are in fact on the side of the Russian-Chinese front.

Even if some of them formally condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine during the UN General Assembly vote, their policies show that they are aware of their changing position in the international system. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam have generally opted for a position of benevolent neutrality.

That said, we do not know whether the Russian leadership itself was convinced that it would be impossible to isolate Moscow. However, Russia’s military assertiveness on the Ukraine issue has helped everyone see that the status quo favored by the West is already a thing of the past.

The fundamental transformation of the global balance of power has three main sources. Firstly, economic globalization, which emerged under the shadow of Western domination, has provided many medium and large countries with new resources to meet their development challenges. Secondly, the objective reduction of the material capabilities of the West, which is no longer able to offer the rest of the world attractive sources of prosperity that are worth giving up their own interests for. Thirdly, there is a rising self-confidence of a host of relatively new actors in international politics derived from the first two factors.

As a result of this emancipation, the West is no longer able to enforce the mechanisms of world politics that would enable it to continue to extract maximum resources on beneficial grounds. This state of affairs has been clearly demonstrated in recent years, when most of the initiatives that benefit the US and Western Europe, for example, in the area of climate change, were not secured by clear benefits for others, but by the use of instruments of direct coercion. The failure of the attempts to isolate Russia, even though the West relied on formal international law in condemning its actions, clearly demonstrated the refusal of other countries to follow the Western course. Most of the world does so not out of sympathy for Russia, but for their own selfish reasons.

This new world is not and cannot be embodied in the UNSC, the main institution of international security. This is simply because it was created for another world, from which all its procedures and practices are adapted, from the location of its headquarters in New York, to the specifics of appointments to high and middle bureaucratic positions. Therefore, any effort to preserve this institution would a priori prove futile and would only prolong the agony of the old international order, with all its attendant risks.

It would therefore be worthwhile to take the issue of the future of the UN and especially the composition of its main body – the Security Council – much more seriously now. The issue of UNSC reform has been raised by some of the world’s major countries on the grounds that at the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, it is strange to proceed from the legitimacy that emerged from World War II, during which most modern states simply did not exist. There may now be more than historical reasons to revisit the topic, including very real reasons regarding the changing balance of power. And it is not only the West that will have to come to terms with this, but also Russia and China, whose unique position in the UN system is also a product of the domination of the old imperialist powers of Western Europe and North America.

Perhaps we are not yet ready for such a decisive step as abolishing the UN and creating (if necessary) a new principal international institution. But it is certainly time to expand the permanent membership of the Security Council to include India, Brazil, Indonesia, and one or two major African countries known for having an independent stance. This would not solve the problem of the UN’s irrelevance in these changing historical circumstances, but it would buy time for a more thoughtful and fruitful discussion. It is reasonable that the initiative should belong to Russia and China, as they are the most interested parties.

 

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