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Ukraine war latest: Zelensky to speak at G20 meeting as West encourages peace talks with Russia

by Asami Terajima November 8, 2022 10:09 PM 4 min read
A Ukrainian soldier of an artillery unit fires toward Russian positions outside Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, on Nov. 8, 2022. (Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key developments on Nov. 8
  • Ombudsman: Nearly 8,000 civilians have been killed since Feb. 24
  • Zelensky will likely attend G20 meeting next week online
  • Ukraine denies facing pressure from West to resume peace talks
  • Russia fires 3 missile strikes, 10 airstrikes across Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the long-anticipated G20 summit next week, most likely virtually, his spokesman said on Nov. 8.

Speaking on TV, Serhiy Nykyforov confirmed Zelensky’s attendance at the upcoming Group of 20 major economies’ forum to be held in Indonesia on Nov. 15-16. He said that Zelensky will “of course” be taking part in the summit, but he couldn’t disclose more details.

Whether or not Kyiv will accept G20’s non-member invitation to the summit was unclear due to President Vladimir Putin’s possible attendance, whose country is raging a brutal war against Ukraine but is still part of the group.

Zelensky had said earlier that he would not attend the summit if Putin is present. His spokesman didn’t indicate whether the president changed his mind.

Host country Indonesia has resisted growing calls from Ukraine and its Western allies to disinvite Putin from the summit and expel Russia from G20, saying that it needs members’ consensus to make it possible.

Putin hasn’t confirmed his attendance at the G20 leaders’ summit yet.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is this year's G20 chair and had a phone call with Putin last week, said on Nov. 8 that the Russian leader will join the summit "if the situation is possible,” likely virtually.

In his earlier comment to the Financial Times, Widodo said Putin left a “strong impression” that he would skip the G20 summit.

Low prospects of talks

While Kyiv denied facing pressure from the West to resume negotiations with Moscow, there appears to be a shift in its “hard no” stance toward peace talks.

In an interview with Radio Svoboda on Nov. 8, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podalyak reiterated that Ukraine was only willing to negotiate after a complete Russian withdrawal, including territories occupied by Russia since 2014.

The Washington Post earlier reported that “the Biden administration is privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia.”

The report, citing unnamed sources familiar with the talks, added that the U.S. is also encouraging Kyiv to “drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks” unless Putin is no longer in power.

A few days later, Zelensky unexpectedly said in an evening address on Nov. 7 that he was open to talks with Russia, but only “genuine” ones that would restore Ukraine’s sovereign borders.

Zelensky had earlier signed a September decree stating “the impossibility of holding talks” with Putin following Moscow’s illegal annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions.

The last known peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow took place in March before Russian war crimes in Bucha and other outskirts of the Ukrainian capital were discovered after the area’s liberation.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that Russia-Ukraine negotiations need to be resumed “at some point,” but it should be done “under conditions and at a time chosen by Ukraine,” according to TFI INFO.

Battlefield developments

The Russian progress in the embattled Donetsk Oblast remains stalled and brings heavy losses.

For four months, Russian forces had been trying to capture the strategic town of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast. They are struggling with low morale, so “a brigade of educators” who are supposed to help raise the soldiers’ morale is heading there, spokesperson of the Eastern Group of Forces Serhiy Cherevaty said, citing radio intercepts.

In Donetsk Oblast, Russian forces conducted offensive operations in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Novopavlivka areas on Nov. 8, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.

In the southern part of Donetsk Oblast, Russian forces had begun constructing defensive pyramidal anti-tank structures known as dragon’s teeth around the occupied city of Mariupol, according to the latest U.K. intelligence report.

Moscow "is making a significant effort to prepare defenses in depth behind their current front line" to try to forestall any rapid Ukrainian advances, the U.K. Defense Ministry said.

Dragon's teeth have additionally been sent to prepare for defensive fortifications in occupied Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts, the report added.

Ukrainian soldiers of an artillery unit fire toward Russian positions outside Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast on Nov. 8, 2022. (Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images)

Casualties and attacks

Russian forces launched three missile strikes and 10 airstrikes across Ukraine on Nov. 8, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.

Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported on Nov. 8 that three civilians were killed and seven wounded across the region over the past day. He added that the bodies of four civilians were discovered in the liberated territories of the oblast.

Later in the day, Russian forces had struck Kramatorsk, wounding an eight-year-old boy and damaging a local school and residential buildings nearby, according to the governor.

In Ukraine’s southeast, Zaporizhzhia Oblast Governor Oleksandr Starukh said that a Russian early morning missile strike on a village near the regional capital hit a house yard and a field. No casualties were reported.

Down in the southern Mykolaiv Oblast, Governor Vitaliy Kim reported that Russian forces struck an industrial facility in the Pervomaiska settlement overnight, but there were no casualties.

The integration ministry said on Nov. 8 that 38 bodies of fallen Ukrainian soldiers have been returned to their relatives.

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, nearly 8,000 civilians, including 430 children, have been killed, and more than 10,000 have been wounded, Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on Nov. 8.

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