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Biden blasts Russia over nuclear threats amid Ukraine invasion

Head of Russian state TV warns Western support of Ukraine could lead to ‘total annihilation’ of country; Zelensky: Putin seeks to ‘disband’ Europe

This combination of file photos shows Joe Biden (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Jim Watson and Grigory Dukor/Various Sources/AFP)
This combination of file photos shows Joe Biden (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Jim Watson and Grigory Dukor/Various Sources/AFP)

US President Joe Biden on Thursday blasted Moscow for “idle comments” on the possible use of nuclear weapons as he said he would ask Congress for a $33-billion package to further arm and support Ukraine.

“We’re not attacking Russia,” Biden said in a statement from the White House. “We are helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.”

“The cost of this fight is not cheap. But caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen,” Biden said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed Biden’s proposal as an “important step” and “necessary.”

Meanwhile,  Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state-run Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik, warned that Western sanctions and the support of Ukraine could lead to the “total annihilation” of the country, according to a report in the Daily Beast.

“Explosions and air defense sirens in Belgorod,” Simonyan wrote in a message on Telegram early Thursday. “The Anglo-Saxons publicly encourage Ukraine to take their hostilities into Russian territory. And they give them means to carry that plan out.”

“What choice do you leave us, idiots? The total annihilation of what remains of Ukraine? A nuclear strike?”

Separately, Zelensky warned world leaders that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “just the beginning,” according to the Daily Mail, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal is to “disband” Europe and carry out a “global strike on democracy.”

The “free world” has the right to defend itself amid Putin’s aggression, Zelensky said, urging Western leaders to provide more weapons to Ukraine.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, warned the West against “testing our patience,” while speaking to reporters in Moscow, accusing the Western countries of “openly calling on Ukraine to attack Russia using weapons received from NATO countries.”

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on his first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s February 24 invasion — now into its third month — toured Bucha and two other towns where Russian forces are accused of crimes.

He decried war as “an absurdity in the 21st century” and called on the Kremlin to cooperate with an International Criminal Court investigation into the accusations.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Zelensky later on Thursday, Guterres acknowledged that the UN Security Council “failed to do everything in its power to prevent and end this war.”

In this image provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres leave a news conference during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 28, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

During his visit, Russian strikes hit Kyiv, in the first such bombardment of Ukraine’s capital since mid-April, according to AFP correspondents and Zelensky’s office.

In a residential part of Kyiv, AFP correspondents saw one building in flames and black smoke pouring into the air after the Russian strikes.

“I heard the sound of two rockets and two explosions. It was a sound similar to a flying plane, and then two explosions with an interval of three to four seconds,” Oleksandr Stroganov, 34, told AFP.

A spokesperson said Guterres and his team were safe.

Meanwhile, explosions were reported across the country — in Polonne in the west, Chernihiv near the border with Belarus, and Fastiv, a large railway hub southwest of the capital.

The mayor of Odesa, in southern Ukraine, said rockets were intercepted by air defenses.

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