Defense Department officials have confirmed Russia’s claim of using hypersonic missiles in Friday’s attack on an aircraft repair facility in Lviv. This marks the first use of the weapon-type in combat. Officials also said the US was able to track the missiles in real time, although they did not confirm that the missiles were launched by MiG-31K Foxhound fighters, as Russia’s Ministry of Defense has claimed.
Prisoner of War camps are now operating in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have said there are officially 562 Russian POWs in Ukrainian custody. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova stated that international humanitarian law on prisoners of war will be observed by her country. We assume this is a reference to the Geneva Convention.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insists Russia and China will continue to forge closer ties and cooperation in the face of Western efforts to negatively affect relations between Moscow and Beijing. Lavrov’s comments come one day after a video call between US and Chinese leaders, in which President Joe Biden urged China to cooperate with Western efforts to force Russia to end its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.
Ten humanitarian corridors were scheduled to be open today in Ukraine. These will include civilian evacuation routes from Mariupol, Kherson, areas in Luhansk and a number of towns northwest of Kiev. There have been no reports on how well the corridors are operating, but concern is growing about the situation in Mariupol where fighting has reached the center of the city. Street fighting there is disrupting rescue efforts at Mariupol theater according to the city’s mayor.
The official US response to Russia’s security concerns and demands was hand-delivered to the Russian Foreign Ministry earlier today. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insists the reply offers a “diplomatic path forward, should Russia choose it.” He was not clear on what direction the path would lead Russia, however, it was likely a reference to a path out of this crisis. There were no concessions made by Washington and the Russian government understood from the start there would be none. As I have mentioned many times in the past weeks, Russia needs a US refusal in order to move forward. Its laundry list of demands was crafted to appear unacceptable to the US. Now Vladimir Putin has a ripe justification accompany any future action against Ukraine or a former Warsaw Pact nation in Eastern Europe.
Now begins the waiting game. Russia has promised retaliation if its demands were not met. Geopolitical blackmail which has somehow gone either unnoticed or not taken seriously by Western diplomats and leaders. The ball is effectively in Vladimir Putin’s court and the world is waiting tensely to see what his response will be. And where it will fall.