Artyomovsk (Bahkmut) Is Liberated!

May 21, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—The Russian Defense Ministry issued the following announcement at 5:15 p.m. EDT yesterday: “Artyomovsk has been completely liberated as a result of offensive actions by Wagner assault detachments supported by artillery and aviation of the Yug Group of Forces.” In its daily update of this morning, the ministry added that “Aviation and artillery of the Yug Group of Forces have foiled enemy’s attempts to counter-attack from the areas of Konstantinovka, Bogdanovka, and Krasnoye (Donetsk People’s Republic).” Russian forces also destroyed a bridge near Krasnoye that was used by Ukrainian troops to bring reinforcements to Artyomovsk.

Putin issued his congratulations to the forces involved this morning. “The President congratulated the Wagner assault units as well as all service personnel of the Russian Federation Armed Forces who had rendered them the required support and protected the flanks, on the completion of the operation to liberate Artyomovsk,” said a statement posted by the Kremlin press service. “All military personnel who distinguished themselves in the operation will be recommended for state decorations.”

Zelenskyy apparently didn’t acknowledge the loss of Artyomovsk, when he met with Biden in Hiroshima, this morning. TASS reports that during Zelenskyy’s interaction with Biden, someone from the audience shouted out a question addressed to the Ukrainian president: “Is Bakhmut still under Ukrainian control?” The questioner followed by an additional line: “The Russian Federation claims to have taken Bakhmut.”

Zelenskyy replied, “I think no.” And then added: “But you have to understand that there is nothing left there. They destroyed everything. There are no buildings. It’s a pity, it’s a tragedy, but for today Bakhmut is only in our hearts.”

Ukrainian presidential spokesman Sergey Nikiforov said that Zelenskyy was responding to an additional line. That is, the words “I think no” refer to the phrase: “The Russian Federation claims to have taken Bakhmut.” At the same time, Nikiforov glossed over the fact that there was a clear question about whether Artyomovsk remains under Ukrainian control. “The president has denied Bakhmut has been taken over,” Nikiforov wrote on his Facebook page.

There is some caution on what the liberation of Artyomovsk means militarily, however.  Alexander Kots, the military correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda, noted that while estimates of Ukrainian losses run as high as 50,000 killed in the 244 days of the battle, Artyomosk is still surrounded by heavily fortified Ukrainian positions in Avdeevka, Druzhkovka, Konstantinovka, Kramatorsk, Slavyansk, and other places.  Kiev’s main defensive line in Donbass,” he says, “runs along this axis.”

Then there’s the question of the much-anticipated Ukrainian offensive. “An attack by the Ukrainian armed forces was predicted to take place in the 20s of May,” notes the Ukraine Watch Telegram channel. “The Ukrainian armed forces have not abandoned plans for an offensive. These plans were prepared, and the equipment and people that have been saved are being brought to the front line. By all indications, activation may begin in the next few days.”

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Lula Proposes UN General Assembly on Ukraine in June or July

May 22, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—“It is necessary to discuss the war in Ukraine in the UN. During all five months of my presidency, no one invited me to attend a UN meeting to discuss this war. We could reschedule the General Assembly meeting, which usually takes place in September, to June or July to discuss the war,” Brazilian President Lula da Silva said in Hiroshima on May 22. TASS reported that “According to da Silva, it is inappropriate to discuss the situation in Ukraine either in the G7 or the G20 format; instead, this issue must be discussed in the UN Security Council.” He said that both Putin and Zelenskyy should address the UN, followed by a discussion. “He previously proposed to establish a new international format to create an opportunity for dialogue between Moscow and Kiev and stated his readiness to act as a mediator in direct negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian presidents.”

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Jake Sullivan: Ukraine Not Authorized To Attack Russian Territory with F-16s

May 21, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—In a press briefing on May 20 from Hiroshima, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration doesn’t support Ukraine’s attacks on Russian territory. The press briefing is posted to the White House website. TASS picked up some of Sullivan’s comments.

During the Q&A, there was this exchange:

“Q: I wanted to ask you a question about the decision to provide training for pilots to operate F-16s. President Biden, in February, did an interview with David Muir of ABC News. And in that particular interview, he said he doesn’t need F-16s now. And then, when he was pressed, he said, ‘There’s no basis upon which there is the rationale, according to our military, now to provide F-16s.’

“Now, I realize you’re not providing F-16s, but you are providing training for those F-16s. What’s changed in any way?

“MR. SULLIVAN: Well, as President Biden said, whether in that interview or right around the same time, we weren’t moving forward then, but he also indicated that we were not taking it off the table.

“Nothing has changed. In fact, our approach to the provision of weapons, material, training to the Ukrainians has followed the exigencies of the conflict….

“But now that we have delivered everything we said we were going to deliver so we put the Ukrainians in a position to make progress on the battlefield through the counteroffensive, we’ve reached a moment where it is time to look down the road and to say, ‘What is Ukraine going to need as part of a future force to be able to deter and defend against Russian aggression as we go forward?’

“F-16 fourth-generation fighter aircraft are part of that mix. The obvious first step there is to do the training and then to work with allies and partners and the Ukrainians to determine how to do the actual provision of planes as we move forward…. [Indicates another reporter]

“Q: Jake, the President’s concern from the beginning had been that F-16s could be used to help escalate this war, to make it a wider conflict. What assurances, if any, has Ukraine given the United States that they would not use these F-16s or fighter jets in offensive fashion that would target Russian soil?

“MR. SULLIVAN: So, all of the capabilities that the United States has proven to Ukraine come with the basic proposition that the United States is not enabling or supporting attacks on Russian territory. That will go for the support for the provision of F-16s by any party as well.

“And the Ukrainians have consistently indicated that they are prepared to follow through on that. And, in fact, we have seen them follow through on that with the provision of Western equipment when we have given it to them.”

So, are we now to trust armies with Nazi contingents to cross their hearts and promise not to launch an attack on Russian territory? Is that really why F-16s would be brought into the mix?

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