COMMENTARY: Russia finds itself isolated, so it sends signals - Alex Švamberk
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Tuesday’s airstrikes in Ukraine, which left 10 million civilians without electricity and mostly without heat and water, are directly related to the events in Bali. There, a thirty-minute speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said that he will not negotiate with Russia until it withdraws, was played on video. Lavrov, who was annoyed that Zelenskyy had many more minutes than the other participants, called it an unrealistic demand and complained that the West was not trying to placate Kyiv. And on Thursday, it was heard from Moscow that the attacks are continuing because Kyiv does not want to act.

The G20 negotiations showed the situation the war had put Russia in. Although Britain has its third prime minister since the beginning of Russian aggression, even Rishi Sunak has not changed London’s hard stance. Speaking in front of Lavrov, he said unequivocally: “The biggest change anyone could make is for Russia to get out of Ukraine and end this barbaric war.”

More important than Sunak’s call, however, is the final communiqué, where the sentence “the majority of members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, stressing that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating the existing instability in the global economy – reducing growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, increasing energy and food insecurity and increases the threat to financial stability’. The war was not labeled as Russian and not all countries condemned it uniformly, but all countries, including India and China, are signatories to the communiqué.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Bali: “I have said repeatedly that we must find a way to return to the path of ceasefire and diplomacy in Ukraine. At the moment, it is necessary to show a concrete and collective determination to ensure peace and security in the world.” At the same time, he defended that Ukraine is being discussed at the G20 summit, which should prioritize economic issues. According to him, the multilateral UN has failed, which has put pressure on the G20 group to find a solution.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also distanced himself from Russia’s approach when he appealed to “strongly reject the politicization and military use of food and energy issues.” Together with French President Emmanuel Macron, Xi even called for “respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” This is nothing that would please the Kremlin, but Beijing has its own interests in Taiwan.

The redrawing of bonds was also evident at the summit in the Chinese president’s meeting with the head of the White House, Joe Biden. They agreed that “nuclear war should not be fought” and expressed their “opposition to the deployment or threat of deployment of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.” It is obvious to whom the message was addressed. It is in Russia that the voices of radicals calling for the deployment of nuclear weapons are heard.

The summit showed that even Russia’s traditional partners are turning away from Moscow, so it remains like a stake in the fence. Although many did not believe it, it is evident that the continued and escalating pressure on Russia makes sense, as even its long-time allies are turning away from Moscow when they see that the West’s approach to the war in Ukraine is consistent. They, too, do not want to find themselves overlooked in a corner, but intend to continue to benefit from the profitable trade with the West. It was the observance and tightening of sanctions that led Russia’s traditional allies to change their attitudes, so that in addition to Moscow’s vassals in the form of Belarus, Iran and the DPRK remain as partners, i.e. obscure regimes standing on the fringes of the international community.

And it was no coincidence that the day before the start of the G20 summit, the heads of the Russian SVR civilian intelligence, Sergei Naryshkin, and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns met in Ankara. It was about nuclear weapons, the United States was supposed to warn Moscow against deploying a tactical nuclear weapon and the possible consequences of such a step. It is quite clear that the meeting was a message to China fearing a nuclear conflict. Even the extension of the agreement on the export of grain and oil from Ukraine is a clear response to Chinese complaints.

The Kremlin also surprisingly responded positively to Biden’s statement that the missile that hit Poland did not come from Russia. They usually don’t leave a thread dry about the American president and still try to overtake the Republicans. But it was clear from the statement of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov what the Kremlin wants – for the US to pressure Ukraine into negotiations. However, this is not happening, words are repeatedly heard from the West that Kyiv must decide for itself when to start acting. It would be a mistake to succumb to the lure of the Kremlin at a time when pressure on Russia is showing results and the Kremlin is starting to look for ways to get out of the mess.

The liberation of Kherson last Friday has not only a symbolic meaning, because with its loss the Russians lost the only regional administrative center they controlled after the start of the war, but also a strategic one – the loss of positions on the right bank of the lower Dnieper means that Russia can no longer threaten Mykolaiv by land. After taking control of it, the Ukrainians have already managed to liberate half of the territory that Russia occupied since February 24 – but this means that the other half plus the annexed Crimea and the previously occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are still held by the occupiers. If a truce were to be concluded now, it would still be beneficial to Russia. Fortunately, in the West they are aware of this. Hopefully it will last.

Media: The Kremlin has admitted that it wants to use attacks on infrastructure to force Kyiv to negotiate

The war in Ukraine

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