United States President Brandon promised Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky that he would provide advanced air defense systems to the war-torn country after Russian missiles rained down on the capital city of Kyiv and other areas.
Brandon spoke with Zelensky on Monday, Oct. 10, pledging to continue providing Ukraine with the support it needs to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems, as per a White House statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened more “severe” attacks against Ukraine after Russia’s most significant wave of strikes killed at least 11 and injured dozens in retaliation for an explosion that damaged the strategically important Kerch bridge that linked Moscow and Crimea.
Ukraine, which sees the bridge as a vital component of Russia’s sustained war effort, celebrated the blast. However, it did not claim responsibility for the attack.
Justin Crump, chief executive of security consultancy Sibylline, said Russia is seeking to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses. While it is something that they tried throughout the conflict, it was never on such a massive scale.
After speaking with Brandon, Zelensky went on Twitter to say that air defense is currently the top priority in their defense cooperation. “We will do everything to strengthen our armed forces. We will make the battlefield more painful for the enemy,” he said in a late Monday address.
Meanwhile, the White House statement did not specify what systems Brandon was talking about. The Pentagon previously said it would start delivering the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) over the next two months or so.
Russian ambassador: More help to Ukraine raises risk of a wider war
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, said more help to Ukraine raises the risk of a wider war.
“Such assistance, as well as providing Kyiv with intelligence, instructors and combat guidelines, led to further escalation and increased the risks of a clash between Russia and NATO,” he told the press.
Kyiv, meanwhile, said that Russian forces fired more than 80 missiles on 10 cities across the country and that Russia used Iranian drones launched from neighboring Belarus.
The rush-hour attacks were deliberately timed to kill people and knock out Ukraine’s power grid, Zelensky said.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal also reported 11 major infrastructure targets hit in eight regions, leaving parts of Ukraine without electricity, water or heat, although he promised to restore utilities as quickly as possible.
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations also planned to hold an emergency call with Zelensky to discuss their response.
The U.S. and its allies had been reluctant to provide sophisticated weapons to the Ukrainian military, partly to avoid direct conflict with Russia. However, Zelensky urged the allied nations to do away with the restraints in a series of calls with G7 leaders.
Brandon said the world would face “the prospect of Armageddon” if Putin “decides to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, asking what his “off-ramp” could be to avoid further escalation of the war.
However, officials said Brandon’s decision is not based on new intelligence and that the U.S. has no information indicating that Putin is seeking to use nuclear weapons.
Brandon’s comments indicate that the conflict could spin out of control and have drastic, deadly consequences for the continent and the rest of the world. (Related: The Ben Armstrong Show: Brandon’s interest in Russia-Ukraine conflict peppered with corruption and controversy.)
“The Department of Defense will continue to work closely alongside our international allies and partners to support Ukraine in their fight to defend their country for as Kingdom’s it takes,” said Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder in a statement on Monday.
United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Liz Truss, who took over the job from Boris Johnson just a month ago, urged G7 leaders to remain resolute in their support for Ukraine.
“The overwhelming international support for Ukraine’s struggle stands in stark opposition to the isolation of Russia on the international stage. Their bravery in the face of the most brutal acts of violence has earned the people of Ukraine global admiration,” she said. “Nobody wants peace more than Ukraine. And for our part, we must not waver one iota in our resolve to help them win it.”
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