In a closely watched speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday railed against the US and its allies and said they are playing a “dangerous, bloody and dirty” game in hopes of dominating the globe.
Putin, who spoke at a conference of international policy experts one day after overseeing a nuclear training exercise, seemed to downplay Russia’s losses in its war with Ukraine and said the conflict he launched was unavoidable after years of building tension.
Despite his repeated veiled references to Russia’s nuclear arsenal in recent months, Putin said he has no intention of using such a weapon in Ukraine: “There is no point in that, neither political, nor military,” he said.
The Russian leader also said the world order the West imposed since the Soviet Union’s collapse is “coming to an end,” according to a transcript by The Telegraph.
Describing the current decade as among the most “dangerous” and “unpredictable” since World War II, Putin claimed that “humankind now faces a choice: accumulate a load of problems that will inevitably crush us all or try to find solutions that may not be ideal but working and could make the world more stable and secure.”
Putin’s speech at the Valdai Club, a think tank and discussion forum in Moscow, followed what Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called a successful training exercise Wednesday by the country’s Strategic Deterrence Forces – one aimed at delivering a “massive nuclear strike” in response to a potential nuclear attack on Russia.
Russian officials have been trumpeting a claim in recent days that Ukraine is planning to use a “dirty bomb,” which combines explosives with radioactive material to sow fear but not necessarily kill, an allegation the US, its allies and Ukraine deny.
BIDEN WARNS MOSCOW:President says using nukes would be serious mistake’
►A senior Russian official warned that US and Western commercial satellites used in support of Ukraine would be fair game for an attack. “The quasi-civilian infrastructure could be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike,” said Konstantin Vorontsov, the deputy head of Russia’s delegation at a UN arms control panel.
►A Russian drone attack struck an energy facility, causing a fire early Thursday, said Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region.
►An energy crisis sparked by the Russian invasion is likely to cause global demand for fossil fuels to peak or flatten out, according to a report released Thursday by the Paris-based International Energy Agency. “Today’s energy crisis is delivering a shock of unprecedented breadth and complexity,” the IEA said.
As the offensive escalates, thousands flee the key city of Kherson
More than 70,000 residents of Kherson have been evacuated as intense fighting and strikes on power infrastructure in the strategic southern city have escalated, Kherson regional Gov. Vladimir Saldo said Thursday.
Ukraine has been mounting an offensive to reclaim Kherson, which was captured by Russian forces during the first days of the invasion.
Included in the evacuation were members of the Kremlin-appointed regional administration, Deputy Gov. Kirill Stremousov said. Monuments were also removed, along with the remains of Grigory Potemkin, the Russian general who founded Kherson in the 18th century. His remains had been kept at the city’s St. Catherine’s Church.
Zelenskyy thanks power workers as electric grid is under siege
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the country’s power workers for maintaining the electricity supply under the relentless Russian attacks on infrastructure. Ukrainian authorities have ordered rolling blackouts in many parts of the country and have asked households to limit consumption.
“I thank all the workers in the energy sector: our rescuers, repair crews, officials from local government, and private companies who work diligently to maintain our energy system despite all the threats,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address late Wednesday.
Who has the advantage in a rough Ukrainian winter?
Ukrainians are bracing for winter under historically harsh conditions. Eight months of war have taken a toll on a nation that was Europe’s poorest even before Russia’s military belligerence damaged or destroyed thousands of residential buildings, schools, hospitals and community buildings.
In recent weeks water systems and energy plants have been the focus of Russian missiles and exploding drones. The collapse of infrastructure has put millions of people at risk of losing access to electricity, water, even shelter, the International Rescue Committee warns.
How will Russia use the harsh winter weather to wear down Ukrainians? How is winter an advantage for Ukraine? Read more here.
– John Bacon, USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press