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Putin's bloody stalemate and f Russian artists’ moaning: Foreign media digest as of March 20

Western media continue to cover the war in Ukraine: today, on March 20, the media reported that the offensive of Russian troops has stalled, so they are regrouping, and Putin can take even more bloody steps to intimidate and exhaust Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Germany agreed on long-term cooperation with Qatar to reduce dependence on Russia, Britain called on Beijing to condemn Moscow, and Turkey described its impressions of the peace talks between Kyiv and the Kremlin.

The Page offers an up-to-date review of what the European and American media report about, covering 25 days of an active Russian invasion.

RF’s offensive in the East of Ukraine has stalled

Photo: Joint Forces Operation

Photo: Joint Forces Operation

The BBC quotes the British Ministry of Defense as saying that Russian troops were shelling Ukrainian cities "indiscriminately" as their offensive in the eastern regions stalled.

Defense officials say Russian shelling of a large number of cities has resulted in "widespread destruction" and huge numbers of civilian casualties.

The report also says that Russian forces "are continuing to encircle a number of cities across eastern Ukraine" but notes that they have made just limited progress in capturing these key targets over the past week.

Analysts believe that Moscow's forces will unleash "heavy firepower" to support assaults on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses, at the cost of further civilian casualties.

UK urges China 'not to condone' Russian invasion

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The BBC also reports that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson strongly urged China to condemn the Russian invasion.

In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper, Johnson said supporting Russia was akin to choosing the wrong side in World War Two, describing it as a battle between good and evil.

Quote"As time goes on, and as the number of Russian atrocities mounts up, I think it becomes steadily more difficult and politically embarrassing for people either actively or passively to condone Putin's invasion," he said.

At the same time, in his opinion, Beijing was starting to have "second thoughts" about its neutral position.

China is yet to condemn Russia's actions and there have been reports that Moscow has asked it for help. On Friday, US President Joe Biden warned China there would be "consequences" if it provided assistance.

On Saturday Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi called the country's position "objective and fair", adding that it would not respond to external pressure on the issue.

Quote"Time will tell that the Chinese stance is on the right side of history," he said.

Turkey sees progress in negotiations

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

Sky News reports that, according to the Turkish Foreign Minister, Moscow and Kyiv are nearing an agreement on the "critical" issues of the invasion of Ukraine.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, who attended Ukraine-Russia talks in Antalya, added he was hopeful for a ceasefire if the two sides do not backtrack on this progress.

Mr Cavusoglu told Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that there had been "rapprochement in the positions of both sides on important subjects, critical subjects".

Quote"We can say we are hopeful for a ceasefire if the sides do not take a step back from the current positions," he said, without elaborating on the issues.

Also, according to the outlet, Germany has reached a long-term energy partnership with Qatar as it seeks to become less dependent on Russian energy sources.

War of attrition: Russia has reached a bloody stalemate


The New York Times reports that analysts say the first phase of Russia's war may be over, but that doesn't mean the bloodshed is.

With Russian forces failing to seize major cities in Ukraine, appearing to lose ground around Kyiv and beset by losses that limit their ability to mount new large-scale offensives, there is an emerging consensus in the West that the war has reached a bloody stalemate.

Quote"Russian forces are digging in around the periphery of Kyiv and elsewhere, attempting to consolidate political control over areas they currently occupy, resupplying and attempting to reinforce units in static positions, and generally beginning to set conditions to hold in approximately their current forward positions for an indefinite time," according to an analysis by the Institute for the Study of War.

Russia has made some gains in the eastern part of Ukraine, where Britain’s defense intelligence agency said forces were still working to encircle cities, and it continues to hold territory in the south around Kherson.

But with its ground forces meeting stiff Ukrainian resistance, Russia has increasingly turned to long-range missiles to target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure.

In a war of attrition, analysts said, Russia hopes it can break down the Ukrainian military while crushing the public’s spirit with relentless assaults.

Blitzkrieg failed, war is reaching its culmination


Russia initially planned to conduct airborne and mechanized operations to quickly seize Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and other major Ukrainian cities. The hope was that they would be able to force a change of government and install leaders loyal to Moscow.

It is now clear that plan has failed, analysts said.

Quote"Russian generals are running out of time, ammunition, and manpower," Ben Hodges, the former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, says.

He called on the West, led by the United States, to expedite and expand support for Ukraine.

Hodges is confident that the Russian campaign was reaching its culmination. Culmination is a concept in war outlined by the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, who described it as the moment when "the remaining strength is just enough to maintain a defense and wait for peace."

President Vladimir Putin of Russia showed no signs that he was going to stop bombing cities and villages across Ukraine.

Battle for Mariupol: A big price to pay for Russia’ exhaustion


The Russian invasion has found its greatest success in the south, and the fighting over Mariupol is some of the most brutal of the war. A Ukrainian defeat would give Russia control over the coast of the Sea of Azov and is critical to create a land bridge between Crimea and Russia.

But the cost of taking the now-ruined city might limit the impact of any Russian victory.

Even if Mariupol falls, the Russian forces now besieging it may not be strong enough to change the course of the campaign dramatically by attacking to the west," the analysts believe.

Elsewhere, the Russian positions seemed to be relatively static or were being pushed back by the Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian military high command said Sunday that there had been no major Russian offensives in the past 24 hours, which suggests that the Russians were taking an operational pause as its forces regroup.

Perhaps the most significant Russian drive in the country is the one pushing north to Kryvyi Rih. But given the difficulties Russia has had on other fronts, the invaders would find themselves bogged down.

Quote"That’s why they have reached out to China for help and why they are now recruiting Syrians," Ben Hodges stressed.

Russian artists urge not to make them "pay the price for the war"

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The Guardians quotes Mikhail Baryshnikov, a famous ballet dancer, as saying that culture should not suffer from Putin's invasion of Ukraine. According to him, Russian performers and artists should not be made to pay the price for the war in Ukraine.

The outlet reports that this month conductor Valery Gergiev and operatic soprano Anna Netrebko were among those who lost prestigious work in the west due to their ties to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Quote"An open exchange in the arts is always a good thing," Baryshnikov said.

According to him, it’s right to put the weight of a country’s political decisions on the backs of artists, or athletes, who may have vulnerable family members in their home country.

Quote"For people in those exposed positions, neutrality is a powerful statement," Baryshnikov says.

Last week, the British sports minister Nigel Huddleston said the government would need assurances that any sportspeople entering the UK "are not supporters of Vladimir Putin".

Baryshnikov also said he feared Russia would soon make any positive future impossible for its young people.

Quote"Right now there’s a Rubicon for Russia to cross. Either it will find a way to end this current conflict and live in an open global society, or it will be thrust backwards with no hope of recovery," he said.

Speaking from his home in New York, Baryshnikov said each well-known Russian must now make a choice.

Quote"It’s the individual decision of every artist whether they choose to speak out or not. For my part, I’ll quote his holiness, Pope Francis. ‘War is madness! Stop, please! Look at this cruelty!’

In simple terms, Russia is already back in Stalin’s time.

Instead of an afterword. The Russians have realized that they are not doing well in the war and are trying to deplete the Ukrainian army while regrouping and renewing resources. At the same time, Vladimir Putin is resorting to less and less discriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities in an attempt to intimidate Kyiv into accepting his terms.

At the same time, the West continues to put pressure on China and is trying to reduce dependence on Russia, and the world's largest companies are leaving Moscow territories, as we have already reported in the digest of the major developments in Ukraine as of March 20.

The address of the Russian artists not to force them to pay the price for the war is very indicative. Amid the fact that Ukrainian artists are now actively volunteering or fighting at the front, questions arise about what they are paying for. Ukraine continues its struggle for independence for 25 days.

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