Ukraine war: 100,000 Russian troops 'killed or injured'; Kherson pullout; and Putin's G20 snub

Ukraine war: 100,000 Russian troops 'killed or injured'; Kherson pullout; and Putin's G20 snub

1. US says 100,000 Russian troops killed or injured in Ukraine

The highest-rank US military officer has suggested that “well over” 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war in Ukraine.

Army Gen. Mark Milley -- chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- said the same losses were "probably" equal on the Ukrainian side, while there were around 40,000 Ukrainian civilian casualties.

“There has been a tremendous amount of suffering, human suffering,” he said.

But Milley added that Russia's "withdrawal" from Kherson and a potential stalemate in fighting over the winter could provide an opportunity to negotiate peace.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated that he was open to talks with Moscow, but only if Russia returns all occupied land, provides compensation for war damage, and faces prosecution for war crimes.

Milley said on Wednesday that for negotiations to have a chance, both Russia and Ukraine would have to reach a “mutual recognition” that a military victory "is maybe not achievable through military means".

The US officer noted that an early refusal to negotiate in World War I compounded human suffering and led to millions more casualties.

"So when there's an opportunity to negotiate, when peace can be achieved ... seize the moment," Milley told the Economic Club of New York.

2. Ukraine cautious about Russia's retreat from Kherson

President Zelenskyy has warned that Russian forces are feigning a pullout from Kherson to lure the Ukrainian army into an entrenched battle in the southern port city.

Kherson serves as a strategic gateway to the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. Its capture by Russia was seen as a huge success in the early days of the war.

Milley said Russia had amassed 20,000 to 30,000 troops in Kherson and a full retreat could take several weeks.

“The initial indicators are they are in fact doing it. They made the public announcement they’re doing it. I believe they’re doing it in order to preserve their force to reestablish defensive lines south of the [Dnieper] river, but that remains to be seen” he said.

But Kyiv has cautioned that the Russian military announcement could be part of a misinformation campaign.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine's president said on Thursday that Russia wanted to turn Kherson into a "city of death".

On Thursday, Ukrainian troops claimed to have recaptured the town of Snihurivka in the southern Mykolaiv region. The claims could not be immediately verified by Euronews.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday it was "encouraging" to see Ukrainian forces being able to liberate more of the country's territory.

"The victories, the gains the Ukrainian armed forces are making belong to the brave, courageous Ukrainian soldiers, but of course, the support they receive from the United Kingdom, from NATO allies and partners is also essential," he added.

"But we should not underestimate Russia, they still have capabilities," he added. "We have seen the drones, we have seen the missile attacks. It shows that Russia can still inflict a lot of damage."

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said Russia's order to evacuate troops showed Moscow was having "real problems" with its military and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has welcomed the withdrawal from Kherson as a positive step.

Sergei Bobylev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech in Moscow. - Sergei Bobylev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

3. Putin will not attend upcoming G20 summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend a planned G20 summit on the island of Bali next week.

Putin will instead be represented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Indonesian and Russian officials said on Thursday.

But the Russian president is set to join one of the summit meetings virtually, according to Indonesia's Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs.

As the G20 host, Indonesia has resisted pressure from Western countries and Ukraine to withdraw Putin's invitation to the summit and expel Russia from the group.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had been attempting to mediate the geopolitical friction between powers in the G20.

Meetings so far this year have included walkouts and threats of boycotts sparked by tensions over Russia's war in Ukraine.

Indonesia has also invited Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, who has said he would not take part if Putin does and was expected to join virtually.

A number of other world leaders are due to attend the summit that starts on November 15, including Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

4. UK has frozen €20 billion of Russian assets

The UK government says it has now frozen Russian assets worth £18 billion (€20.6 billion) following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Britain -- and Kyiv's other Western allies -- began sanctioning Russia on February 24 by imposing travel bans and asset freezes.

So far, the country has sanctioned more than 1,200 individuals and more than 120 entities in Russia, including high-profile businessmen, oligarchs, and companies linked to prominent politicians.

Russia has now become the UK's most-sanctioned nation, overtaking Libya and Iran.

"We have imposed the most severe sanctions ever on Russia and it is crippling their war machine," said Andrew Griffith, a junior government minister in the UK Treasury.

"Our message is clear: we will not allow Putin to succeed in this brutal war."

The frozen Russian assets were around £6 billion (€6.9 billion) more than the amount reported across all other British sanctions regimes.