The chances of peace negotiations between Kiev and Moscow appear to have diminished again after Russia’s withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson with a senior US official who on Saturday asked Ukraine to “liberate” all its citizens from Russian “barbarism”.

Some, like General Mark Milley, thought that Russia’s withdrawal from the city it occupied for eight months might be the tactical advantage Ukraine needed to start negotiations to end the war.

Russia even signaled this week that it was open to talks, although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would engage in peace talks with Russia only on the condition that he return all occupied lands, provide compensation for the damages of war and was prosecuted for his war crimes.

People drink sparkling wine, wave flags and sing songs as they celebrate the liberation of part of the city of Kherson at Independence Square on November 12, 2022 in Kiev, Ukraine.
(Photo by Ed Ram / Getty Images)

WITH THE WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIA FROM KHERSON, RUSSIA AND UKRAINE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO NEGOTIATE PEACE

US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Michael Carpenter, supported Zelenskyy’s long-standing position and pointed to the new atrocities uncovered in Kherson.

“As Ukrainian forces liberate Kherson, they are uncovering evidence of torture and other despicable crimes committed by the Russian occupation forces,” he said in a Twitter statement. “Ukraine must free all its citizens from this barbarism.”

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace echoed this sentiment and highlighted a concern highlighted by some defense experts who warned that Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson could be a ruse.

“Although the withdrawal is welcome, no one will underestimate the threat posed by the Russian Federation,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

Wallace said Russia’s withdrawal from the southern city, just two months after its forces were forced to leave Kharkiv, marked “another strategic failure for them.”

“Now with [Kherson] being also surrendered, ordinary Russian people must surely ask themselves ‘What was it all for?’ “, he asked.” The Russian army has suffered a huge loss of life due to its illegal invasion and has only achieved isolationism international and humiliation. Ukraine will go on. “

Ukrainians gather in central Kiev to celebrate the recapture of the city of Kherson, Ukraine on Friday 11 November 2022.

Ukrainians gather in central Kiev to celebrate the recapture of the city of Kherson, Ukraine on Friday 11 November 2022.
(Photo AP / Bernat Armangue)

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Milley said earlier this week that the United States estimates that “well over” 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in combat since the February 24 invasion.

“Probably the same on the Ukrainian side,” added Milley, noting that another 40,000 Ukrainian citizens are believed to have been killed.

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

Russian troops withdrew to the east bank of the Dnieper River which runs alongside the east bank city of Kherson.

People drink sparkling wine, wave flags and sing songs as they celebrate the liberation of part of the city of Kherson at Independence Square on November 12, 2022 in Kiev, Ukraine.

People drink sparkling wine, wave flags and sing songs as they celebrate the liberation of part of the city of Kherson at Independence Square on November 12, 2022 in Kiev, Ukraine.
(Ed Ram / Getty Images)

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Ukrainian troops continue to advance into the Kherson region and it is unclear whether Russia intends to further evacuate its forces in an effort to avoid the kind of personnel and military equipment losses it saw in Kharkiv in September.

Milley estimated that 20,000-30,000 Russian troops are in the Kherson region and said it could take weeks for a number of troops of that size to withdraw.

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