Russia is “modernizing and expanding its nuclear arsenal,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Friday warned in the comments,
“As the Kremlin continues its brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine, the whole world has watched Putin engage in irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling,” Austin said at a ceremony for the new commander of the US Strategic Command.
With about 6,000 warheads, Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, according to Reuters. The news wire reported that the US and Russia have about 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.
Russia previously said it would prioritize building up its nuclear infrastructure in 2023. But this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed concerns that he would use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. He said that his reminder of Russia’s nuclear arsenal is a “factor of deterrence” rather than an escalation of tensions.
background:Russia’s war sparks fears of nuclear disaster again What to know about the dangers of radiation.
Previous reporting:Putin dismisses concerns about nuclear weapons
“We’re not crazy” he said on Wednesday, “We know perfectly well what nuclear weapons are.”
Still, President Joe Biden has questioned Putin’s motivations for repeatedly talking about Russia’s nuclear weapons supplies.
“So make no mistake,” Austin said on Friday. “Nuclear powers have a profound responsibility to avoid provocative behavior, and to reduce the risk of proliferation, and to prevent escalation and nuclear war.”
►US officials told The Associated Press that the US will send an additional $275 million in military aid to Ukraine, including ammunition and systems to detect and counter drones.
►Bulgarian lawmakers approved the country’s first military aid package to Ukraine after months-long wrangling over the issue between political parties. The country previously agreed to repair Ukrainian military equipment at its factories but refused to send arms directly.
►In an interview released Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern that the fighting in Ukraine could turn into a war between Russia and NATO. “It’s a terrible war in Ukraine. It’s also a war that could become an all-out war that expands into a bigger war between NATO and Russia,” he said. “We’re working every day to avoid that.”
Iran’s support of the Russian military is “likely to increase in the coming months” as Russia seeks to acquire more weapons. Britain’s Defense Ministry said in Saturday’s update.
Eastern Ukrainian city ‘turned into burnt ruins’, says Zelensky
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Friday that Bakhmut has been “reduced to charred ruins” by Russian forces after more than half a year of shelling of the eastern Ukrainian town.
He said, “Bakhmut, Soledar, Marinka, Kremina. For a long time, there is no living space left on the land of these regions, which was not damaged by shells and fire.” “The occupiers actually destroyed another Donbas town, Bakhmut, which the Russian army had reduced to burnt ruins.”
Graphics:Mapping and Tracking Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
While some buildings are still standing in Bakhmut, the city has withstood a long siege and its residents have spent the past weeks without water and electricity.
Pavlo Kirilenko, the governor of Russia’s Donetsk region, which includes Bakhmut, estimated seven weeks ago that 90% of Bakhmut’s population of 70,000 had fled since the war.
If Russia takes control of Bakhmut, it will sever Ukraine’s supply lines and allow Russian forces to advance towards key Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk.
Netflix clip shows Zelensky interview interrupted by sirens
Netflix says it will release an interview with President Volodymyr Zelensky conducted in Kiev by David Letterman, An episode of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” is set to premiere on Monday.
In a promotional clip released by NetflixEmergency sirens go on in the background as the interview was being conducted in a secure location.
According to a translation in the clip, Zelensky says that for many Ukrainians the sound of sirens has become a “habit”.
“It’s unfortunate because I think war should not be a habit,” he told Letterman. “Sometimes we get so used to the sirens that we disregard them … and to me, the sirens are a reminder that the war is not over.”
Contribution: Associated Press
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