Tue, 25 October 2022 at 9:56 pm
(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden warned Russia against using a nuclear or radioactive weapon in Ukraine and said he’s been in discussions Tuesday about the possibility.
“I spent a lot of time today talking about that,” Biden told reporters after receiving a Covid-19 booster shot, his fifth dose of the vaccine. “Let me just say, Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake were it to use a tactical nuclear weapon.”
Russian defense chief Sergei Shoigu alleged to his US and European counterparts over the weekend that Kyiv might use a so-called “dirty bomb” in the war — an explosive device combined with radioactive material. Alarmed US and European officials rejected the claim, saying it may indicate that the Kremlin is planning a so-called “false flag” operation in which its forces use such a weapon and try to blame it on Ukraine.
On the Ground
Russian troops shelled the Nikopol district of the Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, local authorities said on Telegram. Analysts at the US-based Institute for the Study of War said that the slower pace of Russian air, missile, and drone strikes may reflect “decreasing missile and drone stockpiles and the strikes’ limited effectiveness of accomplishing Russian strategic military goals.”
(All times CET)
Sunak Speaks With Zelenskiy, Expresses Support for Ukraine (11:50 p.m.)
Rishi Sunak, the UK’s new prime minister, tweeted on Tuesday that he had spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksiy and “both he and the Ukrainian people can count on the UK’s continued solidarity and support.”
In his own Twitter post, Zelenskiy described the encounter as “an excellent conversation” and that the two leaders had agreed “to write a new chapter” in relations between their countries. He added that “the story is the same — full support in the face of Russian aggression.’
Sunak became prime minister earlier Tuesday.
Biden said US efforts to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner are ongoing but have not swayed the Kremlin, hours after a Russian appeals court rejected her appeal of a nine-year drug smuggling sentence.
“We are in constant contact with Russian authorities to get Brittney and others out, and so far we’re not meeting with much positive response,” Biden told reporters Tuesday at the White House. “But we’re not stopping.”
Berlin’s rhetoric on Ukraine has significantly improved, Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenksiy said, as he was receiving Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Kyiv on Tuesday.
“In general I think that rhetoric both in Europe and in Germany on Ukraine has changed,” Zelenskiy said. “It is warmer than the weather outside today.”
Zelenskiy praised Germany’s anti-missile systems Iris-T for their “impressive results,” urging Berlin to provide more to Ukraine, as the nation is still suffering from often Russia’s air-raids that are targeting the country’s power infrastructure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is pursuing his war aims in Ukraine with a “religious” fervor and is unlikely to change course even as his eight-month invasion is beleaguered by setbacks, Estonia’s spy chief said.
Mikk Marran, Estonia’s outgoing espionage chief, said that the Baltic nation’s intelligence indicated that the Russian president isn’t having second thoughts about the conflict, despite the lack of strategic accomplishments and a firmer line from an expanded NATO.
“He’s still on a kind of a religious or a Messianic mission — and we see that Putin is preparing his country and its army to continue fighting for a long time,” Marran, 44, told a group of reporters in Tallinn on Tuesday.
Zelenskiy said his government needs $17 billion in immediate financing to cover Ukraine’s budget gap as global leaders met in Berlin to map out the nation’s postwar reconstruction.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who hosted the conference, reinforced his message about creating a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine as delegates work to support the war-battered nation for decades to come.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will develop funding for around 18 billion euros ($17.7 billion) for next year, with the Ukrainian government estimating overall needs at $38 billion. Talks on the EU funding are ongoing, even as the disbursement of loans for this year has been halted — partly because of resistance from Germany.
President Vladimir Putin chaired the inaugural meeting of a new coordination council on military needs — and conceded it had missed its first deadline.
“I remind you that today the coordination council was to have fixed the targets for individual areas of activity,” Putin said. “These targets aren’t ready yet, but I have no doubt they will be soon.”
The Russian leader has escalated his faltering invasion of Ukraine after a series of reverses, mobilizing at least 300,000 reservists, declaring martial law in certain regions and carrying out a devastating bombardment aimed at crippling Ukrainian power and other infrastructure.
Ukraine’s former central bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko, who is being sought by anti-corruption investigators for his alleged involvement in embezzlement, called the probe against him politically motivated.
In his first comments after Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau placed him on a wanted list, Shevchenko told Bloomberg News on Tuesday that being added was “further evidence of the prosecution being biased and politicized.” He didn’t elaborate. NABU, as the bureau is known, wasn’t immediately able to comment on his statement.
Ukrainian officials are documenting suspected Russian hacking incidents as part of a plan to prosecute Moscow in an international court, according Victor Zhora, chief digital transformation officer of Ukraine’s special communications and information protection service. The government in Kyiv is collecting evidence of malicious cyber activity and sharing the data with the International Criminal Court, he said.
“Our intention is to bring this to justice after the war, and perhaps this will be the first prosecution of the first global cyber-war and cybercrimes that were conducted with kinetic operations and war crimes in Ukraine,” Zhora said during an interview at a cybersecurity conference in Singapore.
A Russian diplomat said that Moscow in principle backs a United Nations proposal to set up a security zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
“It’s a reasonable idea, which we support in general,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, said on state television on Tuesday. “The devil, as always, lies in the details.”
The Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest atomic energy station, has been occupied by Russian troops since March and heavy fighting around the facility has raised fears that power disruptions could endanger its safety.
A Russian court rejected an appeal by WNBA star Brittney Griner against her nine-year sentence for drug smuggling. The ruling means Griner, 32, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, will leave pre-trial detention near Moscow and be sent to serve her prison term in a penal colony elsewhere in Russia.
President Joe Biden has made a priority of securing the release of Griner and another jailed American in Russia, former US Marine Paul Whelan. Amid a vocal campaign from the basketball star’s supporters, the US leader has denounced Griner’s prison sentence as “unacceptable.”
Akhmetov’s Metinvest Sues Russia in European Court (2:24 p.m.)
Ukrainian steel company Metinvest, owned by the country’s richest tycoon, Rinat Akhmetov, filed a case against Russia with the European Court of Human Rights, according to an emailed statement.
Metinvest is suing for damages caused by Russian forces in its eight-month invasion of the country, including for the destructions of the company’s steel mills in the port city of Mariupol. Akhmetov also filed a case against Russia in June.
IMF Chief Says Ukraine Manages Well, But Needs Huge Sums (1:58 p.m.)
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that while Ukraine had managed its economy “responsibly,” huge sums would be needed to support the country.
Ukraine would require $3 billion a month in a “best-case scenario,” though with additional gas imports and reconstruction funding, that figure could climb to $5 billion, Georgieva said at the Berlin conference.
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