Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president, has warned that Moscow’s confrontation with the West will last decades and that its conflict with Ukraine could become permanent.
A Reuters report said:
Medvedev, now deputy head of the Security Council, said in an article for the government’s Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper, tensions between Russia and the West were “much worse” than during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when the world teetered on the edge of a nuclear conflagration.
A nuclear war was “quite probable” but was unlikely to have any winners, said Medvedev, who has repeatedly said Western support for Ukraine increases the chances of nuclear conflict.
He cited sharp differences over Ukraine, the direction of humankind, and the way the world order was structured.
“One thing that politicians of all stripes do not like to admit: such an Apocalypse is not only possible, but also quite probable,” wrote Medvedev.
Medvedev said Moscow was still committed to stopping Ukraine join NATO.
“Our goal is simple – to eliminate the threat of Ukraine’s membership in NATO. And we will achieve it. One way or another,” he said.
Given NATO’s rule about not admitting countries entangled in territorial conflicts, he said the conflict with Ukraine could become “permanent” given its existential nature for Moscow.
The only way to de-escalate tensions between Russia and the West was to enter into tough negotiations, he said.
“The confrontation will be very long and it is too late to tame the recalcitrants (i.e. us),” said Medvedev.
Other media reports said:
Russia demands that its security concerns regarding NATO are respected, but has neither the intention nor the capability to “contain” the U.S.-led military bloc, said Medvedev.
The official argued in the keynote article on Sunday against the notion that Russia miscalculated in its attempt to prevent NATO’s expansion into Ukraine, and caused Finland and Sweden to apply for membership. Both Nordic nations “were already in association with the alliance”, he noted.
What Russia has always called for was “not to invite into NATO the former parts of our country especially those with which we have territorial disputes,” Medvedev wrote.
He pledged that Russia will stop “the threat” of Ukraine joining the bloc “one way or another.”
Since NATO members say that a nation cannot join while being engaged in an armed conflict, “the conflict will be permanent, because Russia’s existence is at stake,” he warned.
The article detailed Medvedev’s view of the hostilities in Ukraine in the context of a wider geopolitical confrontation. According to the Russian official, Western nations are clashing with the rest of the world in an attempt to preserve their hegemony.
Medvedev admitted to having a pessimistic view of where things are going. “One does not need to be prophet to realize: this phase of confrontation will last for decades,” he predicted.
Medvedev believes that since Western nations have the goal of defeating a nuclear power, it could escalate into a civilization-ending outcome. “An apocalypse is not only possible, but quite probable,” he warned.
The only alternative is a painfully negotiated rearrangement of the global balance of power, under which Ukraine would not exist in its current form of an “anti-Russia,” he said.
“The Kiev regime must be annihilated. Banned by law as a fascist entity in civilized Europe,” he declared.
A rebalanced world order would require a new international treaty akin to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and likely an overhaul of the UN, Medvedev argued. The accords were a key element of the U.S.-USSR detente, and outlined the signatories’ commitments to preserve peace, security and respect for human rights.
EU Considering Compromise With Russia On SWIFT
Another media report said:
The EU is considering a proposal to reconnect a sanctioned Russian bank to the SWIFT global financial network in a bid to rescue the Black Sea grain deal, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing sources close to the discussions.
According to the report, major Russian agricultural lender Rosselkhozbank could create a subsidiary that is reconnected to SWIFT to handle the country’s grain export payments. The plan was reportedly proposed by Moscow through UN-brokered negotiations.
Rosselkhozbank was cut off from SWIFT amid Ukraine-related Western sanctions against Russia. The lender’s reconnection to the system has been among the conditions put forward by Moscow to extend the deal for exporting Ukrainian grain, formally known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The arrangement was initially mediated by the UN and Türkiye and signed in July 2022, but is due to expire on July 18.
Moscow’s proposal regarding Rosselkhozbank was reportedly discussed by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels last week, and was considered “the least worst option” to secure an extension for the grain deal. The legality and feasibility of the plan is currently being examined by EU officials, sources told the FT.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated last week that Moscow sees no grounds to agree to an extension of the grain deal, insisting that promises made to Russia remain unfulfilled. He accused the U.S. and EU of adopting an “outrageous” attitude by claiming that their sanctions do not explicitly target Russian agricultural shipments.
The diplomat argued that the restrictions applied to Rosselkhozbank, Russia’s shipping industry, and “a host of other allegedly technical but actually prohibitive actions” have created major obstacles to Russian exports.
“I do not see what arguments there are for those who would like to continue this Black Sea initiative,” Lavrov stated. Western capitals were blocking progress on reconnecting the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT banking system, Gennadiy Gatilov told the state-backed Izvestia newspaper.
“What we are seeing now does not give us grounds to agree to maintaining the status quo” on the deal, he said in the interview, published early Monday.
The deal, allowing grain from war-torn Ukraine to reach the global market, was renewed again in May but for only two months, until July 17.
Ukraine Says Russian Troops Advancing In Fierce Fighting
An AFP report said on July 3, 2023:
Ukraine said on Sunday that Russian troops were advancing in four areas in the east of the country amid “fierce fighting” but reported its forces moving forward in the south.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliar said that Russian troops were advancing near Avdiivka, Mariinka, Lyman and Svatove.
“Fierce fighting is going on everywhere,” Maliar wrote on social media, adding: “The situation is quite complicated”.
Ukrainian forces have made gradual progress in their counteroffensive launched last month but have so far failed to produce a major breakthrough and have urged Western allies to escalate pledges of military support.
Maliar also said Ukrainian troops were advancing with “partial success” on the southern flank of Bakhmut in the east and near Berdyansk and Melitopol in the south.
In the south, she said Ukrainian forces faced “intense enemy resistance, remote mining, deploying of reserves” and were only advancing “gradually”.
“They are persistently and unceasingly creating conditions for as fast an advance as possible,” she added.
Ukraine’s military commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny expressed frustration in an interview Friday at the slow deliveries of weaponry promised by the West.
It “pisses me off” that some in the West complain about the slow start and progress to the long-awaited push against Russian occupying forces, he told the Washington Post.
He also complained he has a fraction of the artillery shells that Russia is firing.
Ukraine Reports Incremental Gains In Heavy Fighting
A Reuters report said on July 3, 2023:
Ukraine said on Monday its forces had gained some ground along eastern and southern fronts in the past week in heavy fighting with Russian troops, reclaiming 37.4 square kilometers (14.4 square miles) of territory.
Ukrainian forces were advancing in the Bakhmut direction, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said, adding that Russian forces were attacking in the Lyman, Avdiivka and Mariinka directions in the Donetsk region.
“Heavy fighting is going on there now,” Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app.
Ukraine had reclaimed nine square kilometers over the past week along the eastern front “as a result of improving the operational (tactical) position and aligning the front line”, Maliar said.
In the south, Ukraine has regained 28.4 kilometers of territory, bringing the total area of re-captured territory along that front to 158.4 kilometers, Maliar added.
Over the weekend, Russia said its forces had repelled Ukrainian attacks near villages ringing Bakhmut and in areas further south, particularly near the hilltop town of Vuhledar. They also reported success in containing Ukrainian troops in the northeast.
Reuters could not confirm any of the battlefield accounts.
Ex-Zelensky Aide Blames West For Counteroffensive Failures
Another media report said:
The West has failed to supply Ukraine with the weaponry required to achieve significant progress in its counteroffensive, a former adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said on Saturday.
Speaking to Russian activist Mark Feygin, Aleksey Arestovich issued a stark rebuke of Kiev’s Western backers, warning that delays in arms shipments allow Russia to win time to enhance its military capabilities. He added that he has “a lot of questions for our beloved allies.”
“Why did you [U.S.] prepare the counteroffensive in such a way and given such amount of weapons? Maybe you were shepherding us towards negotiations from the very beginning?” he asked.
Another grievance is delayed shipments of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, Arestovich said. “If F-16s are basically approved, with pilot training already underway, why will they arrive in October or November, or even in 2024, and why were they not provided in May before the decisive counteroffensive?”
Arestovich also commented on recent remarks by U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, who said that Kiev’s offensive would be “very bloody,” adding that he was “not surprised” that it was proceeding slower than expected.
“The deep understanding by the U.S. commander has rattled to the core,” Arestovich said. “The only question left to ask is: Where is the military assistance, required for accomplishing the task we had put forward?”
Ukraine started its much-hyped counteroffensive in early June, but all of its attacks have been repelled with heavy losses, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Ukrainian President Zelensky said that the offensive is developing “slower than desired” due to “tough resistance” from the Russians.
In late June, Mikhail Podoliak, a senior aide to Zelensky, also accused the West of being too slow with weapons deliveries, claiming that this allowed Moscow to set up formidable defenses.
Last month, the Financial Times reported that Western officials believe the Ukrainian counteroffensive has so far been unsuccessful, noting that further military assistance hinges on its eventual outcome.
Ukrainian Commander Complains About French Tanks
A Ukrainian military commander has reportedly raised concerns that light combat tanks supplied to Ukraine by France are not suitable for attacks against Russian defensive lines because their thin armor can easily be pierced by artillery shells and other weapons.
Touted earlier this year by Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov as a “sniper rifle on fast wheels,” the French AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicle has proven “impractical” during Kiev’s current counteroffensive against Russian forces, Agence-France Presse (AFP) reported on Sunday. One four-man crew has died because of the tank’s thin armor, which can easily be pierced by Russian weaponry, a Ukrainian battalion commander told the media outlet.
“Unfortunately, there was one case when the crew died in the vehicle,” said the 34-year-old Ukrainian major, whom AFP identified only by his call sign, Spartanets. “There was artillery shelling, and a shell exploded near the vehicle. The fragments pierced the armor, and the ammunition set detonated.”
Reznikov was filmed in April riding in an AMX-10 RC, which was among the Western weaponry rushed to Kiev this spring for a long-awaited counteroffensive that finally began in June. “These fast, modern machines with powerful guns will aid us in liberating our territory,” Reznikov said in a Twitter post thanking French President Emmanuel Macron and Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu. “This is what liberty, equality and brotherhood look like.”
However, Spartanets said the French tanks have proven to be ineffective in front-line assaults. “The guns are good, the observation devices are good, but unfortunately, there is thin armor, and it is impractical to use them in the front line,” he said.
The Ukrainian commander said: “Just sending out the vehicles so they get destroyed, I consider it is impractical and unnecessary because it is primarily a risk for the crew.”
The Ukrainian commander added that the AMX-10 RCs also has been plagued by breakdowns in their gear boxes, possibly because of their use on dirt roads. Kiev’s troops received one month of training in France, which wasn’t adequate to master operating the vehicle, he said.
The 20-ton AMX-10 RC travels on wheels, rather than tracks. It was developed in the 1970s for armed reconnaissance and attacks on tanks. The French military is in the process of replacing its fleet of AMX-10 RCs with the more modern EBRC Jaguar.
Thousands of Ukrainian troops have been killed in the counteroffensive, which has failed to breach Russia’s defensive lines. Dozens of Western-supplied armored vehicles have been destroyed, including German-made Leopard tanks and AMX-10 RCs, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The New York Times reported last week that 17 of the 113 Bradley fighting vehicles supplied to Kiev by the US have been damaged or destroyed.
Ukraine’s Leopard Tank Fleet Is Dwindling
The number of Ukrainian Leopard 2 battle tanks destroyed by Russian forces is comparable to the entire supply from Poland and Portugal, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has reported.
Shoigu said on Monday that Ukraine has lost 16 Leopard vehicles, which, he added “practically amounts to 100% of the tanks of this type supplied by Poland and Portugal.” Warsaw earlier pledged 14 Leopard 2A4s to Ukraine, with the first deliveries reported in March. Portugal sent three Leopard 2A6 tanks via Germany the same month.
In a similar update on June 22, senior Russian officials said Ukraine had lost 13 Leopard tanks.
The tanks were taken out since June 4 in the southern part of the frontline, along with 15 planes, three military helicopters and over 900 armored vehicles, Shoigu claimed during a ministerial meeting.
According to the Russian minister, “overall the enemy failed to reach its objectives on any direction,” which proves the mastery of Russian soldiers and “obviously inflated expectations put on the much-praised Western weapons.”
He further claimed that Ukraine’s foreign backers were pressuring Kiev to continue assaults on Russian positions despite the loss of some 2,500 pieces of heavy weaponry so far.
Ukraine Is Holding Back Its Western Tanks
Kiev is holding back its Western-made tanks and avoiding major attacks on Russian positions after its initial failure to achieve significant battlefield successes during this month’s counteroffensive, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
Ukrainian troops “have not yet approached” the defenses constructed by Russia, according to the report on Friday. After encountering stiff resistance in prior weeks, “Ukrainian commanders have largely held off sending large infantry formations and Western tanks to assault Russian positions.”
The U.S. newspaper described the pause as giving the Ukrainians time to map Russian minefields and “soften” the defenses with long-range attacks. The article focused on the efforts of a Ukrainian drone reconnaissance unit, as witnessed by a correspondent.
The team’s commander, a sergeant named Grigory Volkov, said his side was “kind of shocked” by the scale of Russian defenses, which have multiple layers and were well prepared to fend off storming forces. Now the Ukrainians are moving slowly and trying to conserve their limited supplies of ammunition.
As the poor result of the initial push became apparent, some Ukrainian officials pointed the finger at Kiev’s Western backers.
“The time lost in convincing our partners to provide the necessary weapons is reflected in the specific Russian fortifications built during this period, the deeply dug defense line, and the system of minefields,” Mikhail Podoliak, an aide to President Zelensky, declared last week.
The Russian military reported last week that it had taken out over 240 Ukrainian tanks before Kiev pulled troops back to regroup. This number includes 13 produced in Western nations, which were meant to give the Ukrainians an edge in the long-promised counteroffensive.