The Biden administration stopped short of accusing Russia of a missile strike targeting civilians in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, but said it “certainly” is consistent with previous such attacks.
CNN has reported at least one person was killed and 32 injured Wednesday, with a senior Ukrainian official calling it “a specific deliberate strike at a residential building.”
“It certainly could be” targeted at civilians," National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN’s Kate Bolduan.
“It's obviously right out of the Russian playbook to target civilian infrastructure and to show no regard for avoiding the targeting of civilians. So it absolutely could be,” Kirby said, adding that the US does not yet have “tactile information specifically about that strike.”
Kirby also discussed news that the US is expediting the shipment of Patriot missile systems and Abrams to Ukraine. While he said there has “always” been a sense of urgency, he said the Ukrainians are reacting “well” to training and that the accelerated delivery is a “good thing.” He reiterated that there is “no change” to the US policy on sending F-16 jets at this time.
“The weeks and months ahead are going to be critical. We want to make sure that the Ukrainians have everything that they need in order to be successful,” he said.
The focus of the next weeks, Kirby said, are the “Four A’s”: armor, artillery, air defense, and ammunition, pointing to “more open terrain, combined arms warfare” ahead.
Pressed by Bolduan on the possibility of China arming Ukraine, Kirby said there is “no indication they are moving in that direction or have made a decision in that regard.”
He said he is “not aware” of any plans by China’s President Xi Jinping to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky but reiterated the US hope that such a conversation will take place.