Vladimir Putin told the world yesterday "don't worry" about a nuclear attack, even as he's setting up a scenario that makes it more likely.
Vladimir Putin used his wide-ranging foreign policy speech Thursday to strike an overall threatening tone toward Ukraine and its Western partners, including a warning that the coming decade would be the “most dangerous and unpredictable” since World War II.
Putin did, however, try to allay one specific fear: that he might choose to use nuclear arms in the war in Ukraine. Putin said Russia “had never talked about using nuclear weapons" and that using them “made no political or military sense.”
Yet the words have by no means reassured Kyiv or Washington about the Russian leader’s plans. “If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon?,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a Newsnation interview. “He's been very dangerous in how he's approached this.”
Putin has previously declared that he would use “all means” available in the current war over territory he claims as Russian; and on Wednesday he decided to attend military drills with Moscow’s nuclear arsenal for the first time since the war began.
Russia’s president also repeated claims in the same Thursday speech that Ukraine was preparing to use a so-called “dirty bomb” that sets off deadly radiation when activated. It all appears intended to keep Putin's enemies off-guard with his latest use of what George Orwell dubbed "doublespeak," where words are employed to obscure a leader's intentions.
U.S. National Security spokesman John Kirby told CNN that there were no signs of imminent Russian preparation to use nuclear arms. But he did say the dirty bomb rhetoric looked like a so-called “false flag” operation. “They often blame others for that which they are doing themselves or about to do,” Kirby said. “So that's why we have to take that seriously.”
Zelensky Says Total Of 4,500 Russian Missile Attacks
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during nightly address standing next to a drone
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia has deployed, over the last two days, more than 30 drone attacks on Ukraine. He also added that in total, Moscow had launched around 4,500 missile attacks and 8,000 air raids since the war began.
In recent weeks, Russian attacks have increased, targeting Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and damaging the country’s electricity and water supply as winter approaches.
Half Of Kyiv Could Lose Power, Zelensky Declares Ukraine Is “Not Afraid Of The Dark”
Power outages are seen in the city center of Odesa, Ukraine
Ukraine continues to suffer from massive power outages as Russian strikes yesterday in the country’s central region knocked out its main power network there, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power, Serhiy Kovalenko, the CEO of the country’s Yasno Energy Company, said.
Some 320,000 homes in the capital Kyiv were left without power. In a post online, Yasno asked residents for patience as “almost half of Kyiv may remain without light” and urged residents to turn off energy devices.
In response, Ukraine’s state energy trader JSC has begun looking into importing electricity from Europe. The first delivery has been made from Slovakia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia for deliberately aiming at harming civilians during the approaching winter season. But Zelensky declared late Thursday that the “shelling will not break us – to hear the enemy’s anthem on our land is scarier than the enemy’s rockets in our sky. We are not afraid of the dark.”
Chechen Leader’s Rare Admission Of Battlefield Losses
In his first public acknowledgement of major casualties, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has confirmed losses in his ranks after artillery shelling by Ukrainian troops. “Twenty-three fighters have died, and 58 have been injured,” Kadyrov posted on his Telegram channel.
The Chechen leader, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, used the occasion to call on his compatriots to be mobilized to fight in the war.
South Korea's President Denies Supplying Weapons To Ukraine
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has denied that Seoul provided lethal weapons to Ukraine, hours after his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin claimed South Korea had decided to supply arms to Kyiv and warned such a move would destroy their bilateral relations.
“We are putting efforts to maintain peaceful, good relations with every country in the world, including Russia,” Yoon Suk-yeol told reports on Friday.
South Korea has so far sent only non-lethal supplies to Ukraine such as bulletproof vests, helmets and medical supplies and has turned down Kyiv’s requests for weapons. “How would the Republic of Korea react to the fact if we started, if we resume cooperation with North Korea in this area?,” asked Vladimir Putin during a speech at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow.
As Kherson Battle Looms, Civilian Evacuation Completed As New Recruits Arrive
The head of the Moscow-annexed Crimea said the evacuation of civilians from Kherson had been completed. “The work to organize residents leaving the left side of the Dnipro (river) to safe regions of Russia is completed,” Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-appointed head of Crimea, said on Telegram.
Vladimir Saldo, a Russian appointed official in Kherson, said that at least 70,000 residents had left their homes from the area in less than a week. The city had a pre-war population of around 288,000. It has been occupied by Russia since the early days of the war.
Meanwhile, Russia has sent up around 1,000 mobilized personnel to the west bank of the Dnipro river in order to defend the city of Kherson according to a statement made by Ukrainian armed forces. The statement also said that the mobilized military personnel were resettling in the homes of the residents who had left the area.
UK Prime Minister And German Chancellor Agree To Maintain Pressure
Newly appointed U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed Russia’s attacks on Ukraine during a phone call Thursday.
They agreed to continue supporting Ukraine and maintain pressure on Putin through “robust sanctions,” the British government's press service reported. They also discussed global energy security across Europe and in the UK.
U.S. To Send More Ammo To Ukraine
The Pentagon is set to send Ukraine a new $275 million package of weapons and other aid, U.S. officials told Associated Press. There are no major new weapons in the U.S. package, but it will include large quantities of ammunition rounds for weapons systems already in Ukraine, including for the HIMARS which the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been successfully using in its counteroffensive against Russia.
The U.S. State Department also announced that it had developed a program that would prevent weapons supplied to Ukraine from falling into the hands of the Russian military or ending up on the black market.