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The United States will provide a new security package to Ukraine "very, very soon," according to John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesperson.
"You'll see some additional security assistance being provided to Ukraine from the United States through our drawdown authorities," Kirby told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "And I think very, very soon you'll see another one from the United States. We're going to keep at this, as the President said, for as long as it takes."
Drawdown authority refers to a form of military spending that allows for speedy approval.
Putin's war of words: Asked about escalating rhetoric from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kirby said, "He's the one who invaded Ukraine and in a completely unprovoked manner."
"Ukraine poses a threat to no one, let alone Russia," he continued. "So if it's uncertain, it's dangerous right now, it's because of Mr. Putin. And it wasn't the West who raised any concerns about nuclear weapons first — it was Mr. Putin."
Kirby added that the US sees no indication that the Russians plan to use a "dirty bomb" — a weapon combining conventional explosions with uranium — or other nuclear weapon in Ukraine.
The United Nations' nuclear watchdog announced this week that it will look for any signs of "dirty bomb" production in Ukraine — and it's doing so at Kyiv's request.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi outlined the plans in a letter Thursday. He said the decision was prompted by a written request from the Ukrainian government, which is responding to unproven claims from Russia that it is developing the weapons.
Inspectors will look for any possible undeclared nuclear activities and materials related to the development of dirty bombs at two locations, according to the statement from Grossi.
The results would be released to the agency's board of directors and the public as soon as possible, he added.
What is a dirty bomb? The weapons in question combine conventional explosives like dynamite with radioactive material like uranium. They are often referred to as weapons for terrorists, not countries, as they're designed to spread fear and panic more than eliminate any military target.
What does Russia claim? Without providing any evidence, Moscow claims there are scientific institutions in Ukraine housing the technology needed to create a dirty bomb – and that Kyiv plans to use it.
The international community rejects this narrative: Russia’s allegations have been strongly refuted by Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and NATO, which have in turn accused Moscow of trying to launch its own false-flag operation, which would provide motivation or justification for its own attacks.
CNN's Brad Lendon contributed to this report.
The US State Department detailed efforts underway to prevent United States weaponry in Ukraine from falling into the hands of criminal and non-state actors, a move that comes as Washington braces for congress to scrutinize Ukraine assistance next year.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that while Ukraine has “has committed to appropriately safeguarding and accounting for transferred defense equipment” the US “remains vigilant” about the possibility of the weapons falling into the wrong hands.
The action plan that is in place to prevent that from happening has a few parts, according to the department:
- Bolstering the ability of Ukrainian security forces and its neighbors to safeguard the weaponry
- Strengthening border management and security in Ukraine
- Building the capacity of Ukraine and its neighbors to “to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking"
“Wars can provide opportunities for weapons to fall into private hands via theft or illicit sales, sometimes creating black markets for arms that endure for decades. A variety of criminal and non-state actors may attempt to acquire weapons from sources in Ukraine during or following the conflict, as occurred after the Balkans Wars in the 1990s,” the State Department said in a fact sheet.
Some context: Some incoming House Republicans are expected to call for cutting the assistance or putting greater oversight into place. Yet so far the vital need for the weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine “is assessed to be impeding black-market proliferation of small arms and guided infantry weapons,” the department explained.
Thursday was a difficult day for Ukrainians after more Russian attacks left hundreds of thousands of homes without power, the CEO of Ukraine's Yasno Energy Company said.
The power supply was slashed by 40% in some areas, Serhiy Kovalenko said in a statement. The new power cuts applied to Kyiv, Kyiv region, Chernihiv, Cherkasy and the Zhytomyr region, the CEO said.
At one point, more than 320,000 homes in the capital were without power. By the evening, that number had fallen to 159,000 homes, he said.
In the wider Kyiv region, at least 258,000 homes were without power and more than 500,000 homes were disconnected throughout the day.
"But we are standing. Energy workers are working hard to overcome the consequences of the attacks. Unfortunately, there are no dates for the restoration of normal supply yet. If there is no decrease in consumption overnight, the blackouts will continue," he added.
Infrastructure facilities were attacked with Iranian-made drones in the Kyiv region Thursday, according to the Emergency Services of Kyiv region.
There were no injuries or deaths, but 48 emergency service workers responded to put out the fires.
Russian President Vladimir Putin took some familiar swipes at the US and its allies during a speech on Thursday, accusing "Western elites" of playing a “dangerous, bloody and dirty game” and seeking to blame them for much of the world’s problems, including his own invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking at the Valdai Club discussion forum in Moscow, he also blamed Western governments, many of which have offered support to Kyiv in the face of Moscow's illegal invasion, of seeking global domination and attempting to control the world’s natural resources.
"Power over the world is what the so-called West is banking on in its own game. But this is a dangerous game. It's a bloody game and it's a dirty game. It denies all the sovereignties of countries, and their uniqueness, it doesn't take into consideration the interests of other countries," Putin said.
Putin went on to accuse the West of “staging ... color revolutions” in other countries, “such as the one in Ukraine in 2014,” and claimed Western nations that were backing were “losing the upper hand” in global affairs.
The Russian president also said that no one could tell Russia how to build its society: “The West can do whatever they want with gay parades but they shouldn’t dictate the same rules for Russia.” Putin has repeatedly cracked down on same-sex relationships in an effort to uphold what his regime considers traditional family values.
His speech in Moscow came hours after Russian lawmakers agreed to toughen the country’s discriminatory law against so-called same-sex “propaganda,” moving to ban all Russians from promoting or “praising” homosexual relationships or publicly suggesting that they are “normal.”
The original version of the law adopted in 2013 banned “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Thursday that Moscow had never "intentionally said anything" about using nuclear weapons, but said that as long as the weapons existed, there was always the danger of their use.
And he denied that Russia was planning to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.
“We never intentionally said anything about the possibility of using nuclear weapons by Russia. We only responded with hints to (nuclear threats from) from Western leaders,”
Putin said, accusing Western governments, including former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” against Russia.
He also accused the West of “forcing the thesis that Russia will use nuclear weapons” to influence neutral countries against Moscow. He stressed that Russia’s military doctrine only allows the use of nuclear weapons for "defense" purposes.
Putin also reiterated Russia's baseless claims that Ukraine was building a dirty bomb to use on its own territory and blame Moscow for it.
Russia has been accusing Ukraine of planning to use a so-called dirty bomb, which combines conventional explosives like dynamite and radioactive material such as uranium. Kyiv and its Western allies say there is no truth to the accusation and that Moscow could be mounting a false-flag operation.
Ukraine has invited experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit two facilities the Russian government says – without evidence – are involved in a plan to create a dirty bomb.
Blinken also denounced Russia’s latest claim that Ukraine is considering the use of a “dirty bomb” as “another fabrication and something that is also the height of irresponsibility coming from a nuclear power.” Blinken reiterated that the US is tracking the Kremlin’s nuclear saber-rattling “very carefully,” but hasn’t “seen any reason to change our nuclear posture.”
Despite Putin’s rhetoric, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Andrey Kelin told CNN Wednesday that Russia will not use nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine.
However, actions taken by Moscow in recent weeks – the “dirty bomb” allegations, attacks on civilian infrastructure, looming defeats on the battlefield, and its annual military exercise – have increased concerns, a senior administration official said.
This official told CNN that the potential collapse of parts of Russia’s military in Ukraine could be the factor that could cause Putin to turn to nuclear weapon use. As such, the US is keeping a close eye on the developments in the Kherson region, where it’s not easy for Russian soldiers to retreat.
Russia informed the US of its annual GROM exercise, which includes its strategic nuclear forces, the Pentagon said. The Kremlin said in a statement Wednesday that Putin was leading military training drills involving practice launches of ballistic and cruise missiles.
Despite increased concerns, US officials have not seen evidence of Russian actions that would indicate Moscow is preparing to use nuclear weapons.
CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood contributed reporting to this post.
The US is “certainly concerned” about escalation in Ukraine, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a news conference at the Pentagon.
“As long as we have the channels of communication open and we’re able to communicate, you know, what’s important to us, then I think we have an opportunity to manage escalation,” Austin said.
Austin also said that Russia’s use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine would result in “a very significant response from the international community.”
“We’re going to continue to communicate that any type of use of a weapon of that sort or even the talk of the use of a weapon of that sort is dangerous and irresponsible,” Austin, said, who added that if Russia used one, it “has a potential of changing things in the international community.”
“Russia has been indiscriminately using thousands of offensive missiles in Ukraine,” a senior defense official said. “Their use of missiles in Ukraine shows we should expect these weapons to become a common feature of 21st century conflict.”
So far, Russia has been “absolutely deterred from attacking NATO,” a second defense official said with a level of confidence rarely heard from the US, especially amid escalating rhetoric from Russia and its state-run media outlets.
“President Biden has stated unequivocally that we will defend every inch of NATO territory, and it’s very clear to us here in the Pentagon that Russia has received that message,” the official said.