Steinmeier trip canceled but rescheduled, Russia prepares to leave Kherson, Iran at the UN
Your slice of the top headlines in Ukraine. Daily. Friday, October 21st, 2022.
• German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has canceled a planned trip to Kyiv, allegedly due to “security concerns.”
Kyiv was reported to be a bit irritated by the news, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that a follow-up call indicated that the visit may still be held at a later date. Steinmeier is not a popular figure in Ukraine – his “Steinmeier formula” for the Minsk Accords was seen by many Ukrainians as a surrender of sovereignty. In April, Zelenskyy was said to have cancelled a planned trip by the German president, due to the latter’s Russian ties.
• Russia is preparing to withdraw from Kherson Oblast, claims British military intelligence.
The recently appointed commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, told Russian media on Oct. 18 that “a difficult situation has emerged” in Kherson Oblast. He endorsed the previously announced plans of the occupation authorities to evacuate the civilian population, UK intelligence said. They assesses that in case of a Russian retreat, the key challenge for them would be extracting troops and their equipment across the kilometer-wide river in good order.
• It may take up to seven years to rebuilt Luhansk Oblast after eight years of devastation by occupation and war.
According to regional governor Serhiy Hayday, the Luhansk puppet authority has done almost nothing to restore any damaged or destroyed infrastructure or construction for the entire period of its occupation of parts of the oblast. He also revealed the so-called “Wagner line” - a “string of concrete defensive structures” constructed by the Russian forces that is intended to complicate a Ukrainian offensive into the region.
• U.S. lawmakers will vote on a $50 billion aid package for Ukraine.
Democrats are rushing to push the package through prior to mid-term elections, which may see the pro-Russian Republican Party take control of the U.S. legislature – and likely cut support to Ukraine. NBC noted the previous assistance package was approved in September, worth $12 billion. The proposed $50 billion would ensure “Ukraine survives the year,” according to an unnamed Republican senator, quoted by NBC. Congressional Republicans earlier signaled they would not “continue to give Ukraine a blank check,” if they win the midterm elections in November.
• Hungary has launched a massive propaganda campaign against sanctions on Russia.
According to Hungarian news outlet RTL.hu, a policy document from the prime minister’s office proves the existence of this campaign, said to have cost the Hungarian government $19.1 million. According to the media outlet, the New Land Media Reklam and Lounge Design Szolgaltato companies, which “regularly receive orders from Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government” won a competition to design the slogan and poster, as well as to place them on outdoor advertising boards.
• Ukraine’s central bank keeps key policy rate at 25%.
The NBU decided to leave the rate unchanged due to inflation dynamics corresponding with the bank’s forecasts, the central bank said in a statement. It is noted that if required, the NBU stands ready to raise the key policy rate above its forecast and will further deploy additional measures to protect international reserves, as well as and to maintain control over inflation.
• The day’s long-read: Iran sides with Russia at the UN
Our own Veronika Melkozerova, writing from New York, looks into Iran’s voting record and considers how obfuscation is as good a tool as denial, for authoritarian regimes attempting diplomacy.
The morbid reality of war: Children in Ukraine play in a crater left by a Russian missile in the nation’s capital.
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