Monday, 12 February 2024 04:46

What to know after Day 718 of Russia-Ukraine war

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RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Ukraine ‘must accept new reality’ – Kremlin

Ukrainian authorities must accept the new conditions no matter how “painful” it might be for them, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. He was responding to a question on the prospects of new talks between the two warring countries.

Peskov made the remarks in an interview released by Russian journalist Pavel Zarubin on Sunday. Should Russia and Ukraine ever actually get back to the negotiating table, the potential talks will not be the same as those held early in the ongoing conflict, Peskov suggested.

“Should we begin the same negotiations, there’s a completely different reality now. And this new reality, no matter how painful it may be for the Kiev regime, must be recognized,” he stressed.

While Peskov did not elaborate, he presumably referred to the territorial changes, namely incorporation of the four formerly Ukrainian regions, Zaporozhye and Kherson, as well as Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics into Russia following referendums in late 2022.

Kiev, however, has repeatedly vowed to seize all its former territories from Moscow, including Crimea which broke away from Ukraine in the aftermath of the 2014 Maidan coup and subsequently joined Russia.

The March 2022 negotiations between Moscow and Kiev culminated in the signature of a preliminary agreement between the two nations, signed in Istanbul. The deal, obliged Russia to withdraw its troops from around the Ukrainian capital, but Kiev violated the agreement almost immediately after it had been signed.

According to recent revelations by David Arakhamia, the leader of president Vladimir Zelensky’s party in the Ukrainian parliament, and a key negotiator at the botched talks, then-UK PM Boris Johnson played a pivotal role in orchestrating the failure of the talks. As Arakhamia put it, Johnson at the time simply told the Ukrainians “let’s just continue fighting” and urged them not to sign anything with Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly insisted it was ready to settle the hostilities through negotiations, blaming the lack of any diplomatic effort on the matter on Kiev. The stance was reiterated by the Russian President Vladimir Putin during the conversation with the American journalist Tucker Carlson last week.

“The President of Ukraine [Vladimir Zelensky] has legislated a ban on negotiating with Russia. He signed a decree forbidding everyone to negotiate with Russia. But how are we going to negotiate if he forbade himself and everyone to do this? We know that he is putting forward some ideas about this settlement. But in order to agree on something, we need to have a dialogue,” Putin stated.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Russia is using Starlink in occupied areas, Ukraine says

Russian forces in occupied Ukraine are using Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk's SpaceX for satellite internet in what is beginning to look like their "systemic" application, Kyiv's main military intelligence agency said on Sunday.

The terminals were rushed in to help Ukraine after Russia's February 2022 invasion and have been vital to Kyiv's battlefield communications. Starlink says it does not do business of any kind with Russia's government or military.

"Cases of the Russian occupiers' use of the given devices have been registered. It is beginning to take on a systemic nature," the Ukrainian defence ministry's Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR) quoted spokesman Andriy Yusov as saying.

In a statement, the agency said the terminals were being used by units like Russia's 83rd Air Assault Brigade, which is fighting near the embattled towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka in the partially-occupied eastern region of Donetsk.

The remarks were Ukraine's first official statement about Russia's alleged use of Starlink.

In a post on Sunday made on X, Musk said, "To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia."

"A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia," Musk said in the post on X, which he also owns. "This is categorically false."

Russia's defence ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Two Ukrainian government sources told Reuters earlier this week that Russian use of Starlink had been detected in occupied Ukrainian territory. One said they were trying to obtain data on the scale of such use.

The GUR agency said it had intercepted an exchange between two soldiers discussing setting up the terminals. It posted what it said was an audio clip of the exchange on the Telegram messenger by way of evidence.

GUR did not say how it thought the terminals had been obtained by Russian forces - whether for instance they had been procured from abroad or captured from Ukrainian forces.

Starlink said on Feb. 8 that its terminals were not active in Russia and that SpaceX had never sold or marketed the service in Russia, nor shipped equipment to locations in Russia.

In a statement posted on X, Starlink did not say anything about their possible use in occupied areas of Ukraine.

"If SpaceX obtains knowledge that a Starlink terminal is being used by a sanctioned or unauthorized party, we investigate the claim and take actions to deactivate the terminal if confirmed," it said.

 

RT/Reuters

 

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