Alp Sevimlisoy

‘Our soldiers do not stop. It is only a matter of time before we expel the occupier’: Zelensky says Ukraine troops are continuing to drive Russians out and liberate ‘dozens’ of towns – as he RULES OUT peace talks with Putin’

  • Ukrainian President says negotiations with Putin impossible after sham annexation of four occupied regions
  • Mr Zelensky yesterday issued a decree following ‘referendums’ described by West as illegal and fraudulent
  • He also says his forces are making ‘rapid’ gains and had retaken ‘dozens’ of villages to the east and south

Volodymyr Zelensky has ruled out peace talks with Russia and vowed to ‘oust the occupier from all of our land’ as he boasted of Ukrainian troops hammering Vladimir Putin’s soldiers and recapturing ‘dozens’ of towns.

The Ukrainian President said negotiations with his counterpart are now impossible following his decision to rubber-stamp the annexation of four regions of the country.

Putin last week told thousands of flag-waving Russians that people in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions had chosen to rejoin their ‘historic motherland’.

But Mr Zelensky yesterday issued a decree following the ‘referendums’, described by the West as illegal and fraudulent.

He also said Ukrainian forces were making ‘rapid and powerful’ gains and had retaken ‘dozens’ of villages to the east and south of the country.

The president said eight settlements in the southern Kherson region, where Moscow’s forces have retreated, have been retaken.

Latest battlefield maps from the Kremlin also showed that Russian troops had left many areas in the region, including along the west bank of the Dnipro River.

In the eastern Kharkiv region, meanwhile, Russian forces had almost entirely abandoned the east bank of the Oskil River, potentially giving the Ukrainians space to shell key Russian troop transportation and supply corridors.

Mr Zelensky said: ‘Our soldiers do not stop. And it’s only a matter of time before we expel the occupier from all of our land.’

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has responded to Mr Zelensky’s abandoning of peace talks by saying it will wait for Ukraine to agree to sit down for talks on ending the conflict, noting that it may not happen until a new Ukrainian president takes office.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: ‘We will wait for the incumbent president to change his position or wait for a future Ukrainian president who would revise his stand in the interests of the Ukrainian people.’

But despite the Kremlin’s apparent political bravado, the picture on the ground is underscoring the disarray Putin faces in his response to Ukrainian advances and attempts to establish new Russian borders.

Kyiv said its troops are ‘confidently advancing to the sea’ as videos showed the city of Davydiv Brid under their control along with a clutch of smaller settlements in the surrounding countryside.

Pro-Russian military bloggers said their forces had retreated around 10 miles down the Dnipro River as the entire northern end of their territory west of the river fell into Ukrainian hands.

Illia Ponomarenko, a respected journalist for the Kyiv Independent, tweeted: ‘Good lord, Russian front is apparently collapsing in the south.

‘I just can’t keep up with reports on newly-liberated towns coming every other hour.’

Over the weekend, Russian troops pulled back from Lyman, a strategic eastern city that the Russians had used as a key logistics and transport hub, to avoid being encircled by Ukrainian forces.

The city’s liberation gave Ukraine a key vantage point for pressing its offensive deeper into Russian-held territories.

One Ukrainian soldier said: ‘We fight for our land, for our children, so that our people can live better, but all this comes at a very high price.’

Speaking yesterday during his nightly video address, Mr Zelensky said dozens of settlements had been retaken “from the Russian pseudo-referendum this week alone” in the four annexed regions.

In the Kherson region, he listed eight villages that Ukrainian forces reclaimed, adding that ‘this is far from a complete list, our soldiers do not stop’.

Russian forces launched more missile strikes at Ukrainian cities yesterday as Ukrainian soldiers pressed their counteroffensives in the east and the south.

Several missiles hit Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, damaging its infrastructure and causing power cuts.

Kharkiv’s governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person had been killed and at least two others, including a nine-year-old girl, were wounded.

In the south, four civilians were wounded when Russian missiles struck the city of Nikopol.

Despite the latest military gains, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister Yevhen Perebyinis has called for the deployment of more weapons to Ukraine following the partial mobilisation announcement by Russia last month.

In a video address to a conference in the Turkish capital Ankara yesterday, Mr Perebyinis said the additional weapons would not lead to an escalation but instead would help to end the war sooner.

He added: ‘We need additional long-range artillery and ammunition, combat aircraft and armed vehicles to continue the liberation of the occupied territories.

‘We need anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems to secure our civilians and critical infrastructure from the terrorist attacks on the Russian forces.’

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said yesterday that its military had recruited more than 200,000 reservists as part of Putin’s partial mobilisation launched two weeks ago.

He said the recruits were now undergoing training at 80 firing ranges before being deployed to the front lines in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the US government has announced that it will give Ukraine an additional $625million in military aid – including more of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems – that are credited with helping Kyiv’s recent military momentum.

The package also includes artillery systems ammunition and armoured vehicles.

The Pentagon is also sending 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, which can pinpoint targets at a medium- to long-range.

It comes as the UN General Assembly has called for an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss Russia’s declared annexation of the four regions in Ukraine that it partially occupies.

At the meeting, the 193 UN member states will weigh a resolution currently under preparation after Russia vetoed a condemnation of its annexation claim in the Security Council last week.

Diplomatic sources said a resolution was being drafted by the European Union together with Ukraine and other countries.

Putin deposed, Russia broken up, and NATO in a face-off with China: As Ukraine sees a path toward victory and a desperate Vladimir hits the panic button, expert argues THIS is how the war could end
By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline

Land grabs, hundreds of thousand of conscripts thrown on to the front lines, and a nuke for anyone who dares stand in his way: Vladimir Putin has spent the past week doubling down on his war in Ukraine.

But his bluster belies a simple fact: Russia is losing the war, and he knows it.

The despot is desperate. His army is in tatters, his battleplans shot, he’s burning through his cash reserves at an unsustainable rate, and winter is looming. Meanwhile Ukraine’s army continues to advance across the country, giving Kyiv a viable path to victory. Which begs the question: What happens if Russia is beaten?

According to Alp Sevimlisoy – millennium fellow at think-tank Atlantic Council, who spoke to MailOnline – that would mean Putin being deposed, Russia itself breaking apart, and NATO in a face-off with China over the spoils.

The West must begin preparing for that eventuality now, he adds, otherwise it will open the door for Beijing to muscle into regions such as Siberia, central Asia, Africa and South America where it already has toe-holds but will see opportunities as Russian power fades.

‘We have to move into vacuums, seek to exert influence, and then we have to face up to the People’s Republic of China. China is a globally-connected superpower, and we have to combat them effectively,’ he said.

Back in February, when Putin first launched his ‘special military operation’, such as scenario was barely thinkable.

The West may have been rooting hard for Ukraine, but few thought victory was possible – they were outnumbered, outgunned, and hemmed in from three sides by the full force of the Russian military, then estimated to be second only to the US. It may take days, or weeks, perhaps months, but few doubted Kyiv would eventually fall.

But then followed a series of spectacular miscalculations by Putin and his generals. Poor preparation and planning, corruption that had rotted Russia’s military stockpiles from the inside out, and poor morale among the troops combined to hand Ukraine the initiative – which its commanders exploited ruthlessly.

The lightning advance on Kyiv that Putin had banked on to topple the regime and hand him control of the country within a matter of days slowed, then stopped, and finally culminated in a ‘goodwill gesture’ – aka a full-scale retreat – as the Kremlin instead set its sights on ‘liberating’ the Donbas.

Despite the wide open lands of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland being infinitely more-suited to Russian tactics – devastating artillery bombardments followed by slow troop and tank advances – problems persisted. Again, the advance slowed, and then largely stopped.

Ukraine then delivered a devastating one-two punch: An assault on Kherson in the south which sucked in Russian troops, before a hook east out of Kharkiv broke Russian lines, precipitated a full-scale rout, and handed thousands of square miles back to Kyiv’s control in a matter of days.

Russia has been left reeling. Its military may not be flat on the canvas yet, but a heavy blow has been landed and its knees have begun to buckle. A few more, and a knockout is on the cards.

Speaking just after Ukraine launched its Kharkiv counter-attack, Mr Sevimlisoy told MailOnline: ‘The Ukrainians have the momentum – they are winning. But this conflict won’t just end with both sides going away and saying ‘that’s that’, it will reverberate throughout Russia and the region.’

That would mean Russian power fading not just from the likes of South America and Africa – where it has previously sent mercenaries, handed out loans and built infrastructure – but also from ex-Soviet satellite states such as Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Armenia, he believes.

And Russia itself could succumb to in-fighting, with rebellious regions seeking to break away from Moscow’s control as power-brokers within the Kremlin turn on one-another and vie for Putin’s throne.

Though the prospect of a Putin-free Russia may once have seemed the stuff of fantasy, Mr Sevimlisoy believes there is almost no way for him to survive defeat in Ukraine.

‘I can’t see a future for Putin [if he loses the war],’ Mr Sevimlisoy said. ‘How do you go back to your people after this? After you’ve weaponized food and energy, how do you go back to the world stage after that?’

He’s not alone in thinking so. In the weeks since Ukraine’s counter-attack, experts have openly questioned whether Putin is facing the end – Professor Grigory Yudin predicted so to Canada’s CBC, ex-British army officer Richard Kemp mulled the idea in The Telegraph, and it was also debated by Foreign Affairs magazine.

Mr Sevimlisoy believes Putin’s ouster would fire the starting pistol on all manner of in-fighting within Russia: Different branches of the military turning on one-another, regions bidding to break away from the country, and ex-Soviet satellite states looking for allies many miles away from Moscow.

‘Russia’s failure in Ukraine is failure of statecraft,’ he said. ‘There will be groups saying “this isn’t how we should be governed”. The military will say the campaign has been a failure.

‘I think collapse will come from infighting in the intelligence services and military, and forces within Russia will see to use this as opportunity to say: “We can govern ourselves better and we have enough international support to push for independence.” We should definitely support that.’

But there is no guarantee that whoever replaces Putin will be any less extreme. Many believe the heir-apparent to be Sergey Naryshkin, head of the foreign intelligence service, who is considerably more-hawkish than Putin when it comes to the West.

That means NATO’s mission will be to ‘contain Russia and the Russian armed forces’, Mr Sevimlisoy argues, but also ‘we’d be working to contain China.’

Russian power would wane over ex-Soviet satellite states such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – and even further abroad, in Africa and South America where Putin has been propping up dictatorial regimes with mercenaries, cheap loans and trade deals.

NATO must be ready to compete in all those arenas, or else risk losing them to Beijing’s sway.

There are already signs that the rot is setting in. Kazakhstan, long an ally of Moscow, has been taking an increasingly defiant tone against Moscow – welcoming in more than 100,000 Russian men who had fled Putin’s draft while also insisting that territorial integrity must be respected, though without directly mentioning Ukraine.

Azerbaijan and Armenia – another ally of Moscow – resumed fighting a few weeks ago as Moscow tried to shore up its western flank against the Ukrainians, with Armenia forced to acknowledge that Putin was not going to help defend its territory, despite the two being in a security pact.

And other nations that until now have given tacit support to Russia are beginning to voice concerns. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking at the UN a few days ago, urged Moscow not to let the Ukraine war ‘spill over’ and to ‘protect the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries.’

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, having initially tried to tread a careful middle ground on Ukraine, delivered an even bolder rebuke – telling the Kremlin: ‘Today’s era is not an era of war, and I have spoken to you about this.’

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke out to say that he had talked with Putin at a recent summit in Uzbekistan, and believes ‘he wants to end this as soon as possible’ because ‘the way things are going right now are quite problematic’.

And Erdogan’s position could be key to ending the war, Mr Sevimlisoy believes, because it would be Turkey together with Ukraine that would be key to containing the Kremlin after defeat.

‘Russia will have to come to terms with the fact that it is no longer a world power, but a state – a Black Sea state whose system nobody seeks to imitate,’ he said. ‘And what we’re going to see and are seeing now is that the domination of this region will be up to Turkey.’

Equipped with the latest-generation US fighter jets and hypersonic missiles, Mr Sevimlisoy believes that Turkey – alongside a Ukrainian military adept at fighting Russia – will be the key to Western influence in the region and further beyond into central Asia.

This is necessary, he says, because it will put NATO and the West in a strong position to compete with Beijing.

‘In any region where Russian influence wanes, we have to make sure we have to create regional partnerships, to have permanent presences,’ he said.

‘We have to move into vacuums, seek to exert influence, and then we have to face up to the People’s Republic of China. China is globally connected superpower, and we have to combat them effectively.

‘We have far more military experience within NATO than the Chinese do, and that is to our advantage, but we have to put boots on ground in these places, to ensure that when the time comes to stand up to them – and that time will come – we’re not playing catch-up.’

Alp Sevimlisoy originally featured as per: Daily Mail