Ukraine plans withdrawal from eastern frontline
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he plans to withdraw his forces from the frontline if Russian-backed rebels also pull back.
Kiev’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, told Ukrainian television that troops had already left a village in the war zone.
Ukraine is also planning another prisoner swap with Russia. Zelensky said his troops would pull back from two more villages, Zolote and Petrivske, next week.
“After that, he plans to disengage along the entire 400km, so that people stop dying along those 400km, and this will be phased,” the foreign minister said.
Zelensky won power with promises to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which will probably result in more Russian-backed micro-states that exist in legal limbo, like Transnistria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.
Much of Donbas has been seized by the Russian-backed separatists since April 2014 and the illegals seizure of the Crimean peninsula.
Sporadic mortar and machine-gun fire continues along the 400km frontline.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Russia would be glad to fulfil an ‘all for all’ exchange.”
On September 7, the freed Ukrainians met their families after months of separation, sparking hopes of a deeper peace deal, brokered by Germany and France.
No date has been set for a possible meeting between Zelensky and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
But Zelensky continues to bolster his defences.
The US State Department has reportedly approved the sale of 150 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 10 launchers to Ukraine.
The US$40-million deal signals a political retreat for Donald Trump. In his infamous July phone call with Zelensky, Trump implied the Raytheon-made missiles would only be sold in exchange for a probe into Hunter Biden, son of former vice president Joe Biden.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine,” the State Department said. “The Javelin system will help Ukraine build its long-term defence capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements. Ukraine will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.
“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” the statement said.
Ukraine bought its first Javelins in March last year with 210 missiles and 37 launchers for US$47 million.
Picture credit: Wikimedia