US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons was the biggest such threat since the Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russia’s military leaders faced a rare domestic backlash over the war in Ukraine.
Local resident Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces were rapidly retaking more territory, particularly in the south of the country, as Putin’s seven-month invasion unraveled.
Biden said the United States was trying to “figure out” Putin’s exit from the war and warned that the Russian leader “doesn’t joke when he talks about the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military, you could.” say is clearly below average”.
“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat to use nuclear weapons if things actually continue as they are,” Biden told Democratic donors in New York on Thursday.
“We haven’t faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” he said.
In the 1962 crisis, the United States under President John Kennedy and the Soviet Union under its leader Nikita Khrushchev came close to using nuclear weapons because of the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
“I don’t think there is such a thing as the ability to just (deploy) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon,” Biden said.
Putin, who celebrates his 70th birthday on Friday, has warned he will use any means necessary, including Russia’s nuclear arsenal, to protest Russian soil, which he says includes four Ukrainian regions he has annexed.
Speaking to Australia’s Lowy Institute, Zelenskyy said NATO should launch preemptive strikes against Russia to prevent its use of nuclear weapons.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned the comments, according to the RIA news agency, as “a call to start another world war with unpredictable, monstrous consequences”.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Donestk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, which make up about 15% of the country, after holding so-called referendums denounced as illegal and forced by Kyiv and Western governments.
Since Europe’s largest attempt at annexation since World War II, a Ukrainian counter-offensive has pushed Russian forces into another retreat and recaptured large parts of Kherson.
Zelenskyy said in a video address on Thursday that Kyiv’s forces recaptured more than 500 square kilometers and dozens of settlements in Kherson in October.
“There are also successes in the east. The day will surely come when we will also report successes in the Zaporizhia region (in the south), in the areas that are still controlled by the occupiers,” said the president.
Reuters could not independently verify Battlefield accounts.
Ukrainian forces have regained control of thousands of square kilometers of territory since early September as the Russian front collapsed first in the north-east and in recent days in the south.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-backed Kherson administration, in a rare but growing public criticism of Russia’s top military officials, said the “generals and ministers” in Moscow did not understand the problems at the front.
There was no immediate comment from the Russian Defense Ministry.
Dissatisfaction simmers even among loyal state television commentators.
“Please explain to me what the genius idea of the General Staff is now?” Vladimir Solovyov, one of the most prominent Russian talk show hosts, said on his channel.
“Do you think time is on our side? They have enormously increased their weapons supply,” he said of the Ukrainian armed forces.
“But what have you been doing during this time?”
In the northeastern Kharkiv region, where Ukrainian forces retook much of the territory in September, the bodies of 534 civilians, including 19 children, were found after Russian troops withdrew, police officer Serhiy Bolvinov said.
The total included 447 bodies found at Izium. He also said investigators found evidence of 22 “torture rooms.” There was initially no comment from Russia.
On Thursday, a regional governor said a missile destroyed a block of flats in the city of Zaporizhzhia in the region of the same name, which Russia says it has annexed.
Ukrainian rescuers recovered 11 bodies and rescued 21 people from the rubble of buildings destroyed in rocket attacks there, the state rescue service said in a statement.
In an online address to the new European Political Community Security and Energy Forum, Zelenskyy accused Russia of aiming twice at the same spot to kill emergency personnel.
“In Zaporizhia, after the first missile hit, Russia carried out a second missile hit today, when people came to dismantle the rubble. Absolute meanness, absolute evil.”
Russia says it doesn’t target civilians.
A Ukrainian missile hit a bus in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, killing four and wounding three civilians, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported.
In the past 24 hours, Russian troops in Kherson have carried out eight rocket attacks and 15 airstrikes, and fired more than 70 volleys from multiple rocket launchers, the Ukrainian military said early Friday.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/north-america/president-joe-biden-says-putins-nuclear-threat-biggest-risk-since-cuban-missile-crisis-42047334.html President Joe Biden sees Putin’s nuclear threat as the greatest risk since the Cuban Missile Crisis