- Zelenskiy welcomes Chinese comments on nuclear threat
- US expects G20 to condemn Russian invasion – official
- Kherson residents recount abuses by Russian forces
KHERSON, Ukraine, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Kyiv welcomed Chinese comments criticizing threats to use nuclear weapons at the G20 leaders’ meeting in Indonesia on Tuesday, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine under the spotlights.
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping “stressed their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine”, the White House said during a reading from a meeting in Indonesia between the two leaders on the eve of the summit.
A reading of the Biden-Xi meeting on China‘s Foreign Ministry website did not use the word “nuclear,” but said, “Conflicts and wars produce no winners…and… confrontation between the big countries must be avoided”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly suggested that Russia might use nuclear weapons to defend its territorial integrity, interpreted in the West as an implicit threat to use them on land Moscow claims to have annexed from Ukraine.
Xi and Putin have grown closer in recent years, bound by their shared distrust of the West, and China has refrained from publicly criticizing Russia for the invasion or asking it to withdraw its troops.
Zelenskiy, who had previously visited Kherson, the biggest prize his troops have collected since the invasion began in February, welcomed Monday’s remarks.
“It is important that the United States and China have jointly stressed that threats to use nuclear weapons are unacceptable,” Zelenskiy said in a speech late Monday. “Everyone understands who these words are for.”
Zelenskiy is due to address the G20 summit via video link on Tuesday.
The United States expects the G20 group of industrialized nations to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy, a senior US official has said.
Russia is a member of the group, so consensus on Ukraine is unlikely, and the official declined to say what form the condemnation would take.
Speaking in Bali, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Putin’s government would hear the chorus of global opposition to its actions.
“Russia’s actions put us all at risk,” he said at the summit in Indonesia, where he is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia said Putin was too busy to attend the summit.
To help prevent the conflict from escalating, CIA Director William Burns met with Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin in Turkey on Monday to brief him on the consequences if Putin used nuclear weapons, a source said. White House spokesman.
“WAITING FOR THE ARMY”
In Kherson, Zelenskiy shook hands with soldiers and waved at civilians on Monday as he was escorted by bodyguards three days after his troops entered the city.
The city of Kherson was the only regional capital captured by Russia since the invasion and Putin proclaimed it “eternally Russian” six weeks ago.
Ukraine has repeatedly said that it is ready for peace, but that it will not cede territory.
“Ukrainian military does not accept any discussion, agreement or compromise decision,” Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny wrote on Telegram on Monday evening after a phone conversation with Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.
Olga Fedorova, an English teacher in Kherson throughout the occupation, said the lack of electricity or mobile internet connection meant many were unaware of events until Ukrainian troops lifted their flag in the main square on November 11.
“We couldn’t believe, we still can’t believe that our Ukrainian army is here,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for them all this time, for eight and a half months.”
Zelenskiy said Ukraine had gathered evidence of at least 400 war crimes committed by Russian troops during their occupation of the region, including killings and kidnappings.
Russia denies that its troops are targeting civilians or have committed atrocities. Mass burial sites were found in other parts previously occupied by Russian troops, some with civilian bodies showing signs of torture.
Residents of Kherson and surrounding areas interviewed by Reuters since Friday described killings and kidnappings.
Reuters reported one account of a neighbor shot dead and three accounts of people abducted by troops in the village of Blahodatne north of Kherson.
It was not possible to independently verify the accounts.
The United Nations General Assembly voted on Monday to approve a resolution acknowledging that Russia should be responsible for reparations to Ukraine, in a nonbinding decision backed by 94 of its 193 members.
In northern and eastern Ukraine, heavy clashes and artillery shelling have been reported along front lines that stretch for more than 1,000 km (620 miles).
“The enemy is trying to hold temporarily occupied territory and continues to equip areas on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said in a Facebook post late Monday.
“It maintains its offensive actions near Bakhmut and Avdiivka,” the statement added, referring to areas in eastern Donetsk region where the heaviest fighting is taking place.
According to the RIA news agency, the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had taken the village of Pavlivka in Donetsk.
The accounts of the two parties could not be independently confirmed.
Russia says it is carrying out a “special military operation” in Ukraine to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe the Kremlin’s actions as an unprovoked war of aggression.
Reporting by Jonathan Landay, Lidia Kelly, Gleb Garanich, Pavel Polityuk, Ron Popeski, Joseph Campbell and Felix Hoske; Written by Costas Pitas and Stephen Coates; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Michael Perry
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