Monday, 20 November 2023 04:35

What to know after Day 634 of Russia-Ukraine war

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Zelenskiy calls for rapid operations changes for soldiers, sacks commander

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday demanded rapid changes in the operations of Ukraine's military and announced the dismissal of the commander of the military's medical forces.

Zelenskiy's move was announced as he met Defence Minister Rustem Umerov, and coincided with debate over the conduct of the 20-month-old war against Russia, with questions over how quickly a counteroffensive in the east and south is proceeding.

"In today's meeting with Defence Minister Umerov, priorities were set," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. "There is little time left to wait for results. Quick action is needed for forthcoming changes."

Zelenskiy said he had replaced Major-General Tetiana Ostashchenko as commander of the Armed Forces Medical Forces.

"The task is clear, as has been repeatedly stressed in society, particularly among combat medics, we need a fundamentally new level of medical support for our soldiers," he said.

This, he said, included a range of issues -- better tourniquets, digitalisation and better communication.

Umerov acknowledged the change on the Telegram messaging app and set as top priorities digitalisation, "tactical medicine" and rotation of servicemen.

Ukraine's military reports on what it describes as advances in recapturing occupied areas in the east and south and last week acknowledged that troops had taken control of areas on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in southern Kherson region.

Ukrainian commander in chief General Valery Zaluzhniy, in an essay published this month, said the war was entering a new stage of attrition and Ukraine needed more sophisticated technology to counter the Russian military.

While repeatedly saying advances will take time, Zelenskiy has denied the war is headed into a stalemate and has called on Kyiv's Western partners, mainly the United States, to maintain levels of military support.

Ostashchenko was replaced by Major-General Anatoliy Kazmirchuk, head of a military clinic in Kyiv.

Her dismissal came a week after a Ukrainian news outlet suggested her removal, as well as that of others, was imminent following consultations with paramedics and other officials responsible for providing support to the military.



Top Zelensky aide questions Ukraine’s ‘survival’

A senior aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed in an interview with Ukraine’s Channel 24 television station on Friday that Kiev must seize all territories lost to Russia, including the Crimean Peninsula, or risk disappearing from the world’s map.

The aide, Mikhail Podoliak, opined that failure to push back Russian troops from the territory Kiev claims as its own could become a breaking point for the country. “Do we have an endgame in which we do not enter Crimea and which would clearly indicate that Ukraine has a historical perspective?” he asked.

According to Podoliak, the same concerns apply to the four other regions – the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions – that overwhelmingly voted to join Russia last autumn. “Do we have even a single chance to survive in historical terms for another ten to 15 years?” the official added. 

Podoliak also believes that Russia’s victory would be a significant setback for the West as it would “not be able to claim global leadership” while its “autocratic” rivals would have free reign to attack other territories. He also admitted that “the war is unpopular” in Ukraine but rejected any peace engagement with Russia, insisting that Moscow wants to “subjugate” Kiev.

Russian officials have repeatedly said they have never closed the door to talks with their Ukrainian counterparts.

Podoliak also attempted to justify unfulfilled predictions that Ukraine would seize Crimea during the past summer, noting that this assessment was based on an analysis of how many arms Kiev would receive from its Western backers and the impact of sanctions on Russia. According to the official, however, many Western companies remained in the Russian market, allowing the country’s government to receive “high taxes” and use this money to fund its military campaign.

Ukraine’s eventual takeover of Crimea was predicted twice this year by Ukrainian intelligence chief Kirill Budanov – first in the spring and later in the summer amid Kiev’s counteroffensive. Moscow has warned it would use“any weapon” in response to a potential Ukrainian attack on the peninsula.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said last month that Kiev “is losing” while being unable to make any substantial progress on the battlefield. He also estimated Kiev’s losses at more than 90,000 service members since the start of the counteroffensive in early June.



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