President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that detonating nuclear weapons would be a “serious mistake” amid repeated accusations by the warring sides of plans to escalate the conflict using unconventional weapons.
For the past three days, the Russians have been baselessly accusing Kyiv of intending to launch a so-called dirty bomb, which when detonated spreads radioactive waste, causing terror. Ukrainians responded that Moscow was making excuses for the use of nuclear weapons in wars lost on the battlefield.
Biden said it was unclear whether the Kremlin was trying to prepare for a nuclear attack, but he repeated his administration’s previous warnings about such a move.
“I just want to say that if Russia were to use tactical nuclear weapons, that would be a very serious mistake,” Biden said. “I can’t promise you yet that this was a false flag operation — don’t know — but it would be a Serious, gross mistake.”
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian nuclear operators said Russian troops were working covertly at the occupied Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, raising concerns that they may be preparing for a radioactive attack.
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► Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the US-led West of increasing arms supplies and providing intelligence to the Kyiv regime in an attempt to “destroy our centuries-old statehood”.
► Norway’s domestic security agency says it has detained a man who entered the country as a Brazilian citizen on suspicion of being a Russian spy.
► German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrives in Kyiv, his first visit to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion. He said he wanted to “send a signal of solidarity with the Ukrainians”. In April, Ukraine made it clear that Steinmeier was not welcome because of his previous support for closer ties with Russia, which he later said was a mistake.
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Progressive Democrats roll back Biden’s demands to negotiate end to Russia war
Facing a swift backlash over their timing and message, 30 progressive House Democrats on Tuesday withdrew a letter they had sent to President Joe Biden the day before, urging him to negotiate an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Two weeks before the midterm elections, the letter appeared to undercut U.S. support for Ukraine at a time when Russia was increasingly desperate to turn the tide on the battlefield, urging Biden to “make an aggressive diplomatic push to redouble efforts to find a reality” The ceasefire framework”
Many fellow Democrats and Ukrainian officials had said Russian President Vladimir Putin would not negotiate in good faith, and they condemned the letter, sparking a stunning reversal. Biden insisted that the terms of a peace deal with Russia were decided by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Congressman. The progressive caucus chair, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, said in a statement that the letter was written several months ago and requires further review before it can be released. She also sought to distance its content from comments last week by Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy that Republicans would not give Ukraine a “blank check” if they retake the House.
“The proximity of these statements creates an unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who strongly and unanimously support and vote for every military, strategic and economic aid package for the Ukrainian people, are in some way in conflict with Republicans who are trying to block U.S. support. Allies. For President Zelensky and the Ukrainian army,” Jayapal’s statement said.
Ukraine destroys Russian attack helicopter
The British Ministry of Defence said in its recent assessment of the war that Russia’s attack helicopter fleet was being hit by Ukrainian man-portable air defences.
The assessment said that since the invasion, Russia’s Ka-52 HOKUM attack helicopters have suffered at least 23 verified losses in Ukraine, representing more than 25 percent of Russia’s fleet of 90. Dozens of other helicopters were also shot down.
“Russia still fails to maintain sufficient air superiority to reliably provide effective (aircraft) support near the front line,” the assessment said. “And it’s running out of artillery ammo.”
Russian commanders may turn to high-stakes attack helicopter missions as one of the few options available to provide close support to troops in combat, the assessment said.
White House slams ‘sham’ Russia appeal hearing in Greener case
A Russian court rejects Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence for drug possession, meaning the WNBA basketball star “will continue after having to go through another bogus judicial process today. Wrongly detained under intolerable circumstances,” said National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan. .
Sullivan said the administration was continuing to negotiate a possible prisoner exchange with Russian officials, and he praised Greener’s family for “showing courage in these unimaginable circumstances.”
Unlike the appeals process in U.S. federal courts, Russian courts have adopted a quick settlement, said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.
“Grener’s best hope now seems to be some form of prisoner swap with Russia,” he said.
Griner, who was arrested on February 2, appeared in court in the Moscow region via a video link from a cell in her detention facility. On the 17th, police said they found e-cigarette cans containing cannabis oil in luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Greener, 32, said she unintentionally packed the items in a hurry and she had no criminal intent. A week after her arrest, Russia invaded Ukraine and U.S.-Russian relations fell to near record lows, complicating efforts to free her.
IAEA inspects two Ukrainian nuclear plants after ‘dirty bomb’ claims
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said the agency was preparing to inspect two Ukrainian nuclear facilities at a time when Russia claimed Ukraine was developing a “dirty bomb”.
Ukraine has called for inspections after its nuclear energy company Energoatom claimed Russia was conducting unauthorized construction work near a dry spent nuclear fuel storage facility at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. Energoatom warns that destroying the containers stored there could lead to hundreds of square miles of radiation contamination.
Chechen leaders want Ukrainian cities to ‘disappear from the face of the earth’
The head of Russia’s Chechnya region, which is backed by the Kremlin, said Russian troops should destroy Ukrainian cities in retaliation for Ukraine’s shelling of Russian towns along the border.
Authorities in Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod regions reported that Ukrainian shelling damaged infrastructure and residential buildings. Ramzan Kadyrov said on Telegram that if “cannonballs fly into our area, entire cities must be wiped from the face of the earth so they don’t think they can fire in our direction.”
Kadyrov has often criticized Russia’s military efforts. Earlier this month, Kadyrov said Admiral Alexander Lapin should be sacked after retreating from the Donetsk region city of Lehman.
Kadyrov wrote on Telegram: “If I had my way, I would have levelled and demoted him, stripped him of his award, and sent him to the front to wash his disgrace with a rifle in his hand.”
Contributed by: Associated Press