Ukraine-Russia war: Experts say war won’t be won on the battlefield
Some experts say the war in Ukraine won’t be won on the battlefield. Here’s what that means.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
One person was injured, two Russian government buildings were damaged and a Moscow airport was briefly forced to close Sunday after a drone attack as Ukraine ramped up efforts to take the war into Russia.
The developments came as former President Donald Trump called for a temporary halt in U.S. military support.
The damaged buildings contained offices of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Digital Development and the Federal Agency for Nationalities, among other agencies, the Russian media outlet The Insider reported. The area was evacuated and several streets were cordoned off. In addition, the governor of the Bryansk region near the countries’ border said a Ukrainian strike damaged a pig breeding complex and injured three people.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was “inevitable, natural and … fair” to bring the war to Russian land.
“Ukraine is becoming stronger,” Zelenskyy said. “The war is gradually returning to Russian territory, to its symbolic centers and military bases.”
One drone headed for Moscow was destroyed in the air and the other two were electronically suppressed, crashing in the city, the Russian Defense Ministry said. A security guard at one of the downtown buildings was injured, the Russian state-run Tass news agency reported.
Vnukovo airport was closed for arrivals and departures for about an hour. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the attack “insignificantly damaged” the facades of the two damaged buildings. Photos from the scene show windows blown out.
It was the third strike at Moscow in less than a week. Ukrainian air force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said Russians are beginning to face the consequences of invading Ukraine in February 2022.
“All of the people who think the war ‘doesn’t concern us,’ it’s already touching them,” Ihnat said.
◾ The Pentagon is buying up to 500 Starlink terminals, the satellite internet technology made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, so Ukraine officials can conduct sensitive communications without fear of interruption, The New York Times reported.
◾ Two people were killed and 20 were hurt in a missile attack Saturday in the northeastern Ukraine city of Sumy, authorities said on Facebook. Multiple buildings were damaged.
◾ Saudi Arabia will host a peace summit organized by Ukraine in early August to pursue negotiations to end the war, officials said Sunday. Russia is not invited.
◾ It appears the thousands of Wagner mercenaries who have settled at a base in central Belarus don’t have the heavy equipment they used in Ukraine and might have had to return it to the Russian military, the British Defense Ministry said, adding that lacking combat vehicles would curtail their fighting effectiveness.
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Trump wants Congress to withhold military aid for Ukraine until the Biden administration cooperates with congressional investigations into the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Trump, speaking at a rally Saturday in Erie, Pennsylvania, said no additional weapon shipments should be authorized until the FBI, Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service provide “every scrap of evidence” they have of possible misbehavior by Biden family members.
Trump threatened Republican lawmakers who didn’t join the effort with primary challenges. Trump candidates have brought down multiple Republicans in the past as his rabid public following routinely puts pressure on GOP lawmakers who fall into the former president’s disfavor.
“They have to play tough,” Trump said. “If they’re not willing to do it, we got a lot of good, tough Republicans around … and they’re going to get my endorsement every single time.”
Russia has received about 30 peace initiatives for a settlement in Ukraine through official and unofficial channels, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said after the Russian-African summit that wrapped up in St. Petersburg over the weekend. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the African Peace Initiative − which includes a Russian pullback in Ukraine, a ceasefire, the removal of Russian tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, the suspension of the International Criminal Court arrest warrant against Putin and an end to Western sanctions against Russia − could become the “foundation” for a peace process. But he did not commit to withdrawing his troops.
“We are extremely grateful to our African friends for the fact that they really − not in words, but in deeds − value peace,” Zakharova said.
Those friends went home with hardly any parting gifts. African nations are among the most affected by Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and they received no assurances of a reversal. Putin did promise to start sending 25,000 to 50,000 tons of free grain to each of six African countries in the coming months, but that’s considerably less than the 725,000 tons shipped by the U.N. World Food Program to several hungry countries, African and otherwise, under the grain deal. Russia plans to send the free grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea and Central African Republic.
“We would like the Black Sea initiative to be implemented and that the Black Sea should be open,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, one of less than 20 of the 54 African leaders who attended the summit. “We are not here to plead for donations for the African continent.”
At a time when Zelenskyy is warning that Russia may once again try to cripple Ukraine’s energy sector ahead of the winter, his government is planning talks with the Biden administration about getting security guarantees while in the extended process of seeking NATO membership.
Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said Sunday on Telegram that such discussions will begin this week. They stem from commitments made to Ukraine by Group of Seven nations earlier this month at the NATO summit in Lithuania.
“Security guarantees for Ukraine will be concrete, long-term obligations ensuring Ukraine’s capacity to defeat and restrain Russian aggression in the future,” Yermak wrote. “These will be clearly drafted formats and mechanisms of support.”
Zelenskyy pursued a clear path for Ukraine to join the military alliance at the July 11 to 12 meeting but had to settle for pledges of new weapons and support.
The Bureau of the International Fencing Federation overturned its own suspension of Ukrainian saber fencer Olga Kharlan, ruling she can participate in the women’s saber team competition at the 2023 Fencing World Championships underway in Milan. The bureau said Kharlan conceded the penalty against her was correct after she refused to shake hands with a Russian opponent she defeated in an elimination bout Thursday in women’s individual saber. FIE president Emmanuel Katsiadakis said officials discussed the issue thoroughly and met with Kharlan.
“After consultation with the International Olympic Committee, we believe this decision is made in keeping with the Olympic spirit,” Katsiadakis said. “It also sends a message of sensitivity and understanding to our members and all sports federations as the world faces tremendous challenges.”
Kharlan said in a statement she was thankful for the decision.
“The most important thing for an athlete is to be able to compete, for my family, my team, my country and all the people who support me,” she said. “During these difficult few days, I appreciate all the support I’ve had from around the world.”
A high-ranking Russian lawmaker warned his nation Sunday that Moscow must win the war in Ukraine or “cease to exist as a people.” Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy chairman of the Russian Duma, urged Russians to rally around Putin or face harrowing consequences, according to a translation from Russian Media Monitor.
“Right now, Russia is in a situation where either we win in this war, or we cease to exist as a people and as a nation,” Tolstoy said. “There is no stopping, fortifying or entrenching.”
Tolstoy said Russia “should seriously be thinking through” how to take Odesa and Dnipro and place Kyiv under siege.
“How we will go about convincing those who didn’t pick up a weapon but put a pot on their head thinking that Ukraine is an independent nation,” Tolstoy said. “Either they destroy us or we destroy them!”
Contributing: The Associated Press