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A suggested terrorist conspiracy and Russia’s battlefield failure: a digest of Western mass media

Russia’s failure to take Avdiivka and the global terrorist conspiracy: a digest of Western mass media by The Page

Russia’s failure to take Avdiivka and the global terrorist conspiracy: a digest of Western mass media by The Page

The newly elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives faces a trial by the state budget problems that led to the ousting of his predecessor. Meanwhile, the White House is commenting on the failure of the Russian offensive on Avdiivka, and a summit is being held in Brussels where EU leaders are discussing aid to Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns of a conspiracy between the Kremlin terrorist regime and Hamas.

The Page has prepared a digest of Western mass media at the end of the October 23–27, 2023, business week.

Controversies around the U.S. budget: Will the new speaker achieve a compromise?

Avoiding a government shutdown, providing aid to Ukraine and Israel, and approving funding for federal agencies for the next fiscal year are the challenges the New House speaker Mike Johnson has faced immediately after being elected, The Washington Post reports.

A government shutdown looms on November 18 if Congress does not pass a short-term funding measure — enacting individual appropriations bills would probably take far too long, as the House and Senate don’t agree on how much to spend this fiscal year.

In his first remarks after being elected speaker Wednesday, Johnson previewed his economic policy stances, declaring that the House would vote to create a bipartisan commission to study the national debt and social safety net spending. At the same time, he supports the Trump-era tax cuts for corporations and wealthy earners. Extending them would add $3.5 trillion to the deficit by 2033, experts say, which is contrary to his stated goal of reducing the budget deficit.

Mike Johnson giving his first speech as the House speaker. Photo: Getty Images

Mike Johnson giving his first speech as the House speaker. Photo: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Johnson said he would support a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating until either January or April. Such a move led to the ousting of the previous speaker, Kevin McCarthy, after some Republicans opposed any provisional funding measure on principle. McCarthy was forced to rely on Democratic votes, which eventually costed him his office.

Since Johnson enjoys more trust among Republicans, it may help him cut some unpopular deals. Still, he doesn’t get carte blanche, according to Representative Doug LaMalfa, a staunch McCarthy ally:

Quote"He’ll have a little more leeway. But if he’s out there going too far on certain things, I think that leeway runs out pretty fast," the congressman said.

Aid to Ukraine is still questioned

Another point of contention is the $106 billion aid package proposed by President Joe Biden, which includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine and $14.3 billion for Israel. Johnson on Thursday, October 26, said that House Republicans preferred to "bifurcate" funding for Israel and Ukraine, rather than consider both in a single piece of legislation.

Quote"The American people are demanding some real accountability for the use of those dollars," he said. "We can’t allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine, because I don’t believe it would stop there, and it would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan. We’re not going to abandon them, but we have a responsibility, a stewardship responsibility, over the precious treasure of the American people."

The White House commented on the failure of the Russian offensive near Avdiivka

A house in Avdiivka ruined by Russian shelling, March 2023

A house in Avdiivka ruined by Russian shelling, March 2023

Russia is executing soldiers who try to retreat from a bloody offensive in eastern Ukraine, the White House has said. According to the BBC, The United States claims that some of the casualties suffered by Russia near Avdiivka were "on the orders of their own leaders".

Russian and Ukrainian troops have been locked into a fierce battle for the frontline town since mid-October. Ukrainian estimates put the number of Russian casualties in Avdiivka at 5,000, while the U.S. says that Russia lost "at least" 125 armored vehicles.

A Ukrainian army spokesperson said that Russian troops were refusing to attack Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka because of heavy losses and that there had been mutinies in some units. Meanwhile, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says that the Russian military appears to be using the "human wave" tactics, throwing masses of poorly trained soldiers right into the fight.

Quote"No proper equipment, no leadership, no resourcing, no support. It is unsurprising that Russian forces are suffering from poor morale," Mr Kirby added.

Taking Avdiivka — which lies near the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk — would allow Russian troops to push the front line back, making it harder for the Ukrainian forces to make further advances into the Donetsk region. Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the situation as "particularly tough".

Orban doesn’t believe in Ukraine’s victory. What’s the EU’s response?

Moreover, at the recent EU leaders summit, Orban once again exploited the issue of aid to Ukraine. Leaders of other countries believe that he does it to unblock funding for Hungary. Photo: Getty Images

Moreover, at the recent EU leaders summit, Orban once again exploited the issue of aid to Ukraine. Leaders of other countries believe that he does it to unblock funding for Hungary. Photo: Getty Images

The European Union's strategy with regards to the war in Ukraine "has failed" and the bloc should create a plan B as the Ukrainians will not win on the frontline, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on October 27, according to Reuters.

Speaking in Brussels on the sidelines of an EU summit, Orban said he saw no reason for Hungary to send its taxpayers' money to support Ukraine.

The EU is due to decide in December on a revision of its 2021–27 budget worth 1.1 trillion euros. The bloc's executive proposed that member states chip in more to the shared coffers to provide 50 billion euros to Ukraine and spend another 15 billion euros on migration. Another proposal would allocate 20 billion euros in military aid for Ukraine.

Quote"We found this proposal had not been worked out properly, and was not suitable to be a basis for serious negotiations so we had rejected it," Orban said.

Viktor Orban’s European colleagues scolded him over his stance. Thus, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas called him out for his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in China despite EU efforts to isolate Russia diplomatically. And Xavier Bettel, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said that by meeting Putin, Orban "showed the middle finger" to Ukrainians, and also rebuked his blocking of financial aid to Ukraine.

Quote"You can't say: if you want money for Ukraine, we want money for us. We shouldn't be the hostage of Mr Orban and I'm convinced we will find a positive solution," Bettel said before a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

Zelenskyi warned Europe about the conspiracy of terrorist regimes

Volodymyr Zelenskyi addressing the October 26 EU summit

Volodymyr Zelenskyi addressing the October 26 EU summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested that Russia is benefitting from war in the Middle East as senior officials from Hamas arrived in Moscow for talks, Politico reports.

Addressing EU leaders meeting for a summit in Brussels, Zelenskyy said by video link:

Quote"We must do everything to prevent an even larger international fire from breaking out in the Middle East. The enemies of freedom are very interested in bringing the free world to the second front."

Zelenskyy spoke as a delegation from Hamas visited Moscow for talks on the release of the foreign hostages, including Russians, that the group is holding in Gaza, Russian news agencies reported.

Mousa Abu Marzook, a founder and political leader of Hamas who now lives in Qatar, led the delegation that met with the Russian deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov. Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza could lead to a broader regional conflict.

At their Brussels summit, EU leaders are discussing the twin wars in Ukraine and in the Middle East.

Quote"It’s clear that the conflict in the Middle East is casting a bit of a shadow over what’s going on in Ukraine," Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said a day before the summit.
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