- NBC News reported on peace negotiations between U.S., European officials, and Ukraine
- The tone of the recent reports differs from the previous one-sided media coverage of the war
- Ukraine’s top general believed the war was a stalemate
- The changing media narrative suggests the war in Ukraine may be coming to an end
NBC News quietly released the most explosive anti-Ukraine story on Friday. Quoting sources, the article said that U.S. and European officials have broached the uncomfortable topic of peace negotiations with Ukraine, including “very broad outlines of what Ukraine might need to give up to reach a deal with Russia.”
It was an astonishing piece of war reporting.
Media coverage during the over 20-month war between Russia and Ukraine has primarily been one way: Ukraine was making significant gains with Western help, and Russia was losing miserably. The total victory of evicting Russians from every square inch of Ukraine was challenging but not improbable, so it remained the goal. The West would, therefore, continue to supply weapons and aid for the “as long as it takes” conflict. And any talk about peace was premature and insulting to Kyiv – because only Ukraine should and could consider those factors.
The truth has been that such biased pro-Ukrainian coverage has insulted readers. Anyone following the war closely knew Kyiv depended entirely on Washington and the Western capitals, including for military and diplomatic strategies.
A few days before the NBC story, there was another by Simon Shuster of Time magazine, reporting from Kyiv. Shuster had been granted intimate and exclusive access to President Zelensky’s top advisers as the reporter who had written the article on the Time Man of the Year 2022 Award, which Zelensky won. Shuster reported that by the admission of Zelensky’s top advisers, the war is currently unwinnable for Ukraine. It was another sensational revelation.
The Time story coincided with two other pieces in the British press. The Economist reported that Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, General Valery Zaluzhny, believed the war was a stalemate. Unlike in the United States, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief is not its president but the highest-ranked officer in its armed forces. For someone in his position to reveal that Ukraine wasn’t making progress in its counteroffensive – when Jake Sullivan, America’s National Security Adviser, explicitly said in August that the conflict was not a stalemate – was extraordinary. The Economist went a step further, carrying a full companion essay by the General detailing the need for advanced weaponry. Why the secretive Ukrainians would publicly reveal their military readiness (or lack thereof) was a head-scratcher.
And on Saturday, the paper of record, the New York Times, carried a story where President Zelensky’s office rebuked the General’s assessment that the fighting was a stalemate, arguing, rather obviously, that such a declaration was helpful to the Russians. Under the hood, the piece brought to light, for the first time, divisions in the top leadership of the Ukraine command.
The crack in the loyalty became even more evident when Zelensky, the previous day, fired one of the General’s deputies, the head of special operations forces. Neither the General nor the fired deputy knew the dismissal was imminent. In an interview with the Times, Solomiya Bobrovska, who serves on the Parliament’s defense and intelligence committee (and sits in the opposition), said: “The firing looks like political interference into the armed forces and its combat actions.”
What is also remarkable is how much those in the know have been wrong and have consistently misled us. On June 4, the day after the counteroffensive started, retired U.S. General David Petraeus was quoted by USA Today. “Many of the Russian soldiers have been in combat for a year or more continuously without being rotated out. They’re not pulling their units off to reconstitute them after they take losses. They just push poorly trained and equipped individual replacements into them.” Ukrainian forces have been training for many months. They are well-disciplined, adding they are “well-led, and they’re well-equipped now, with Western tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.” As recently as Aug 24, Petraeus was still optimistic. In a Washington Post op-ed, he said, “Ukraine’s counteroffensive might yet surprise critics.”
Both did not age well.
Taken together, these four media stories, all in the space of a week, mark a pivotal moment in the media’s war coverage. To be sure, we noted in August that the media had begun to pivot on Ukraine, carrying more negative stories compared to the drumbeat propaganda before, but this week was remarkable in the transformation of the narrative. It points to an inconvenient truth for the Neocons fighting for more war funding: the war may be finally drawing to an end.
As we noted yesterday, the Democrats and some in the Senate GOP appear boxed in on the border and Ukraine funding. Their negotiating hand is now further weakened as they get pushed even more into the corner – unless, like in typical Beltway fashion, they will take the “we-know-more-than-you-do” route and shove war funding down the American taxpayer’s throat. We hope that Speaker Johnson will not let them do that.
The U.S. is $34 trillion in debt. Many Americans desire fiscal austerity and are concerned about their government’s unsustainable borrowing. According to a recent TIPP poll completed on Friday, only 49% of Americans approve of continued financial support to Ukraine, while 46% of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with President Biden’s efforts to reach a settlement.
The week’s developments will make millions of Americans and over 30% of Ukrainians happy as an end to the war seems to be in sight.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Turkey later as he continues his diplomatic push. He’s been working with regional leaders on a so-called humanitarian pause.
President Joe Biden suggested there had been some progress on the issue.
Arab countries have been demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The U.S. warns this would allow Hamas to regroup. The UN says there are nearly 1.5 million displaced Gazans – and its facilities in the south are over capacity and no longer able to accept new arrivals.
The head of the United Nations was “horrified” by a strike by Israeli forces on a convoy of ambulances in Gaza, he said in a statement, adding that the conflict “must stop.”
Insisting he did “not forget the terror attacks committed in Israel by Hamas,” the UN chief, Antonio Guterres, added that “for nearly one month, civilians in Gaza, including children and women, have been besieged, denied aid, killed, and bombed out of their homes.
Gaza’s Hamas government suspended the evacuation of foreigners to Egypt after Israel refused to allow some wounded Palestinians to be evacuated to Egyptian hospitals, a border official said.
“No foreign passport holder will be able to leave the Gaza Strip until wounded people who need to be evacuated from hospitals in north Gaza are transported through the Rafah crossing” to Egypt, the official said on condition of anonymity.
In Israel’s commercial hub, Tel Aviv, several thousand protesters took to the streets, including relatives and friends of some of the hostages, chanting: “Bring them home now.”
International pressure is growing on Israel to agree to humanitarian pauses in the Gaza fight, but hostages’ loved ones said they should be released as a precondition.
In Jerusalem, hundreds came together outside Netanyahu’s residence with more explicit calls for his resignation.
Israelis, deeply divided since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power last year, have united against Hamas in war, but experts predict the veteran leader will be fighting for his survival when the conflict ends.
“Support for Netanyahu and his coalition was draining even before October 7, and since the outbreak of war, it has fallen much further,” said Toby Greene, a politics lecturer at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and researcher at the London School of Economics.
Former President Barack Obama said the conflict is the “century-old stuff” that has now come to the fore and blamed social media for amplifying the divisions.
Not only did he condemn the October 7 assault on Israel that killed many innocent Israelis, but he also underlined the sufferings of the civilians in Palestine.
President Zelenskyy pushed back at suggestions Western leaders were lobbying for peace talks: “No one among our partners is pressuring us to sit down with Russia, talk to it, and give it something.”
“Time has passed, people are tired … But this is not a stalemate,” Zelenskyy told a news conference. The front line between the two warring sides has barely moved in almost a year, with one senior Ukrainian official warning this week that the conflict was deadlocked.
Russia has reportedly boosted efforts to recruit young female fighters as drone operators, snipers, medics, and drivers.
The Russian Defense Ministry is running an ad campaign on the country’s major social media platforms, with one account specifically targeting women. The account, named “Fighting Girls,” is urging girls to sign up and serve in the Russian forces.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu proudly announced earlier this year that more than 44,000 women were serving in the Russian army.
Russia’s new nuclear-powered submarine Imperator Alexander III carried out a successful test launch of the Bulava ballistic missile, designed to carry nuclear warheads, the Russian defense ministry said.
The ministry did not say when the test occurred. President Vladimir Putin has been pushing for Russia to maintain its nuclear deterrent to counter what he calls growing security threats, as ties between Moscow and the West have hit new lows over the Ukraine invasion.
Ukraine’s Air Force said its pilots launched successful strikes on Kerch, probably sinking one of the “most advanced ships” of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, a Kalibr cruise missile carrier.
There was no immediate confirmation from Moscow of a damaging hit to one of its warships.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv to discuss Ukraine’s accession to the European Union with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Kyiv applied for EU membership just days after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, and received candidacy status several months later in a strong signal of support from Brussels. Talks will also include “how we will continue to make Russia pay for its war of aggression,” von der Leyen wrote.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang said at the opening of a major trade fair in Shanghai that Beijing will work with all countries to “jointly build an open economy,” as the global recovery has lacked momentum.
The world’s second-largest economy has been in a slump amid a property sector crisis, while the country’s worsening business environment has dampened sentiment among many overseas companies.
President Xi Jinping also sent a letter to the event and pledged that China will continue its “high-level opening up.”
China continues to pare its holdings of U.S. Treasurys, arousing market speculations over its motives. Some analysts said Chinese monetary authorities are leading the move to shore up the yuan, while others blame it for a recent bond rout in the U.S.
China once actively bought the securities with ample foreign exchange reserves, becoming the second-biggest foreign investor in U.S. Treasurys after Japan. Given the size of its holdings, China’s selling could roil U.S. bond prices, pushing up interest rates.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Malaysian counterpart Anwar Ibrahim agreed to promote bilateral defense and maritime security cooperation amid China’s increasing military assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.
During their talks, the two countries also affirmed cooperation over energy, including ensuring a stable supply of liquefied natural gas to Japan.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it had approved commitments from Amazon and Meta after two investigations over charges of unfair practices connected to their marketplaces.
The CMA said Amazon would ensure that third-party sellers in the Amazon Marketplace have opportunities to place their products in the “Buy Box” that allows users to purchase or add an item to their cart in one click.
Nov. 18 was designated as the “missile industry day” because it displayed “the might of a world-class nuclear power and the strongest ICBM possessor was demonstrated to the whole world,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
North Korea test-fired the ICBM on Nov. 18, 2022, with leader Kim Jong-un declaring that the missile reaffirmed his regime’s acquisition of a powerful and reliable capability to counter any nuclear threats.
North Korea appears to be diversifying its cybercrimes to offset the declining value of cryptocurrencies it steals to fund its nuclear and missile programs, a report said.
According to the report, North Korea stole some US$340 million worth of cryptocurrencies in the first three quarters of the year, which amounts to 29.6 percent of the total damage reported in the world. The report also said North Korea appears to be relying on Russian exchanges to cash its cryptocurrencies.
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Republished with permission from TIPP Insights