On Sunday, the top US Army general warned Kyiv and the West to remain vigilant about how Russia might respond to recent setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine.
“The war is not going too well for Russia right now,” said US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “so we all have a responsibility to maintain a high degree of combat readiness.”
Milley warned that the war was in a new phase, with Ukrainian forces seizing the strategic initiative, reclaiming large swaths of territory in northeastern and southern Ukraine in recent days.
“Because of this, we have to watch very closely what Russia’s reaction to this will be,” he added.
Milli spoke to reporters in Warsaw after visiting a Polish military base.
The United States and its NATO allies are assisting Ukraine from a distance in its counteroffensive against Russian aggression.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin shrugged off the recent crackdown on his troops by the Kyiv military, he warned on Friday that Moscow would respond more forcefully if its troops were subjected to further pressure.
Here is an overview of some of the other key events surrounding Russia’s September 18 invasion of Ukraine.
Zelensky: Armed Forces of Ukraine are preparing for the next phase of the counteroffensive
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed that the counter-offensive against Russian military aggression will not stop, despite Russian shells shelling civilian areas over the weekend.
In his late-night video message, Zelensky said: “Maybe now some of you think that after a series of victories we have come to a kind of calm.”
“But it’s not quiet. This is preparation for the next stage… Because Ukraine must be free – all.”
On Saturday, Russian fire killed four medics who were trying to evacuate a psychiatric hospital in the Kharkiv region. Night shelling also hit a hospital in Nikolaev, a major Black Sea port. Also, five people died over the past day as a result of Russian shelling in the east of the Donetsk region.
Biden warns Putin against tactical nuclear attack
US President Joe Biden Gaz warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin against the use of chemical or tactical nuclear weapons in connection with Moscow’s serious losses in the war in Ukraine.
“No need. Don’t, don’t,” he told the US TV show 60 Minutes in an interview that aired on Sunday.
“You would change the face of war unlike anything since World War II,” Biden said.
Asked what the US response would be, Biden said such action would be “consistent.”
“They will become more of a pariah in the world than ever,” the president said. “And depending on the degree of what they do, it will be determined what kind of response will take place.”
Tactical nuclear weapons can be used at short ranges and are usually less powerful, although modern tactical warheads are still several times more powerful than those used by the United States during World War II in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
UK: Russia ramps up attacks on civilian infrastructure
The UK Department of Defense said in its regular intelligence report that Russia last week increased its attacks on civilian infrastructure, “even where it probably doesn’t see immediate military consequences.”
The report noted strikes on a dam on the Ingulets River in Krivoy Rog in southern Ukraine, one of the country’s largest urban areas. The strike caused flooding and subsequent damage, which the Ukrainian authorities are still repairing.
“Faced with setbacks on the front lines, Russia has likely expanded the zones in which it is ready to strike in an attempt to directly undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and government,” the ministry added.
Zelensky accused Russia of Nazism
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said investigators had found evidence of “10 torture chambers” in recaptured towns in the northeast of Kharkiv region.
“Torture was a widespread practice in the occupied territories. That’s what the Nazis did – that’s what [the Russians] do,” Zelenskiy said in a video message late Saturday night.
“They will respond in kind, both on the battlefield and in the courtroom,” he vowed.
Earlier this week, Zelenskiy said more than 400 bodies were found in a mass grave in the city of Izyum in Kharkiv after Ukrainian forces recaptured it as part of a counter-offensive.
Australia will not ban Russian tourists
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said the country is not considering a ban on Russian tourist visas as part of its sanctions against Moscow.
Speaking to Australian broadcaster ABC, Marles said Canberra’s sanctions on Moscow were aimed at the Russian government, “not at the Russians themselves.”
Australia has sanctioned hundreds of Russian individuals and entities linked to the Russian banking sector and sovereign debt since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Canberra also banned certain types of exports to Russia and supplied military and humanitarian supplies to Ukraine.
“We will look at how we can provide this continued support,” Marles said, adding that Australia was “one of the largest non-NATO countries, military support for Ukraine.”
mm, fb/dj (dpa, Reuters)