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US President Joe Biden says President Vladimir Putin completely misjudged Russia’s ability to invade Ukraine, but said he doesn’t believe Moscow would use a tactical nuclear weapon against its neighbor despite recent threats thinly veiled to use its atomic arsenal.

Biden made the statements as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleaded for a rapid increase in Western air defense systems for Ukraine to defend against missile strikes on its cities after two days of deadly Russian bombings that targeted the civilians and the country’s energy infrastructure.

Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the latest developments on the ongoing Russian invasion, Kyiv counter-offensive, Western military aid, global reaction, Russian protests and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.

Biden told CNN in a interview on October 11 that, although he believes Putin is acting rationally, his goals in Ukraine “were not rational.”

“If you listen to the speech he gave after this decision was made [to invade Ukraine]he talked about the whole idea of ​​– it was necessary to be the leader of Russia that united all Russian speakers,” Biden said. “I just think it’s irrational.”

In recent weeks, Russia moved to seize four partially occupied regions of Ukraine after referendums widely denounced as illegal, mobilized hundreds of thousands of Russians and repeatedly hinted at the use of nuclear weapons , stoking alarm in the West.

Russia launched its new wave of missile strikes on several regions of Ukraine a day after bombing several cities, including Kyiv, in retaliation for the October 8 explosion that damaged the only bridge between Crimea annexed to Moscow and mainland Russia.

Biden last week warned the world was at risk of “Armageddon” in unusually blunt remarks following Putin’s threats to use atomic weapons amid a faltering military campaign in Ukraine.

Putin’s intentions and his mental state have been the subject of much debate after the Russian military suffered a series of setbacks in Ukraine.

But Biden said Putin was “rational” despite the mistakes he made.

“I think [Putin] is a rational actor who has dramatically miscalculated,” Biden said.

Earlier on October 11, Zelenskiy addressed a Group of Seven (G7) summit of major industrialized nations, urging leaders of global industrial powers to block Russia’s energy sector with new sanctions to disrupt Russian oil revenues. and gas.

Addressing the summit via video link on Oct. 11, Zelenskiy said a “strict price cap” was needed for oil and gas exports from Russia, which he said had entered a new stage of growth. escalation with the attacks of October 10 and 11 which killed at least 19 people and hit power stations.

“Russia must be completely isolated and punished. Punished both politically and in terms of sanctions,” he said.

“Such measures can bring peace closer – they will encourage the terrorist state to think about peace, about the uselessness of war,” he added. Zelenskiy told leaders from the United States, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, France and Italy.

In a statement, G7 leaders condemned Russia’s recent missile attacks and said they would stand [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and officials to be held to account, but did not say how.

“We condemn these attacks in the strongest terms and recall that indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians constitute a war crime,” the statement said.

The White House then pledged to expedite air defense shipments to Ukraine, while Germany promised delivery to Ukraine “in the coming days” of the first of four IRIS-T air defense systems. SLM capable of protecting a city.

In his speech, Zelenskiy also called on the leadership for more air defense capabilities to neutralize air attacks, saying that when Ukraine receives such systems, “the key element of Russian terror, rocket fire, will cease. to work”.

He thanked all countries that have already helped Ukraine secure its air defense systems, especially the United States and Germany, but said that according to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia has ordered 2,400 drones to Iran.

Furthermore, Zelenskiy asked the G7 countries to support his initiative for an international observation mission on the border between Ukraine and Belarus to monitor the security situation.

Zelenskiy also said the G7 must recognize that there can be no dialogue with Putin, who he said believes only in terrorism and “has no future”.

Talks can take place either with another Russian leader – one who “will respect the Charter of the United Nations, the fundamental principles of humanity and the territorial integrity of Ukraine”, he said, or with another configuration of negotiators “so that the main terrorist does not have the possibility of influencing key decisions by terror.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on October 11 that Moscow was open to talks with the West on the war in Ukraine, but had not yet received any serious offers for negotiations.

With reporting from AFP, AP, BBC, CNN and Reuters


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