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Biden warns: Use of nuclear weapons will lead to “end of the world” war


US President Joe Biden warned that humanity faces the threat of an “end of the world” war for the first time since the Cold War, suggesting that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, may use his nuclear arsenal as his forces struggle to stand up to a Ukrainian counterattack.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began eight months ago, Putin issued veiled warnings of the possibility of using nuclear weapons if he felt that his options had run out in his efforts to seize Ukrainian territory in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance backed by the West.
“We haven’t faced the prospect of an apocalyptic battle since (President John) Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis” in 1962, Biden said in New York on Thursday. “We are trying to understand how Putin will find a way out,” Biden said in New York on Thursday.
While experts note that any nuclear attacks will be relatively limited, Biden warned that even a tactical strike within a limited area would lead to widespread repercussions.
He stressed that Putin “is not joking when he talks about the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons, or biological or chemical weapons, as it can be said that the performance of his army is significantly weak.”
The victories announced by Ukraine in the Kherson region in the south are the latest in a series of defeats suffered by the Russians and cast a shadow over the Kremlin’s announcement that it annexed about 20 percent of the Ukrainian territory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a speech late Thursday that “more than (500 square kilometers) have been liberated from the Russian occupiers in the Kherson region alone” since the beginning of October.
The recaptured territory includes dozens of towns and villages that were occupied by Russian forces for months, said Natalia Gumniuk, a spokeswoman for the Southern Military Command.
Early and easily Russian forces took control of Kherson, an area that before the war had a population of about one million, after the start of the invasion on February 24.
Moscow-appointed officials renewed their call to the residents to maintain their calm, while the pro-Kremlin deputy governor of the region Kirill Strimosov indicated that Russian forces were repelling the attack.
But Moscow forces continue their attacks, as Russian missiles struck the industrial city of Zaporizhia (center) early Thursday, killing a number of civilians. Rescuers searched for survivors with their own hands, without relying on mechanisms, according to AFP correspondents.
In a speech to a meeting of European leaders in Prague, Zelensky called on Western capitals to supply his army with more weapons to “punish the aggressor”.
He said that Ukraine must resist the invasion of Moscow “so that Russian tanks do not advance towards Warsaw or again towards Prague.”
– “Pure hate” – The European Union has imposed a series of new sanctions on Russia, expanding the embargo on both trade and individuals in response to Moscow’s formal annexation of four Ukrainian regions on October 30.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced the recall of Paris’s ambassador to Moscow, citing “threats posed” by the increasing French military support to Kyiv.
And on Thursday, only 40 kilometers from artillery battles on the southern front, seven Russian missiles hit central Zaporizhia.
“Seven residents have been confirmed killed, while five people are still missing,” said Oleksandr Starukh, governor of the Zaporizhia region.
“The process of removing rubble is currently continuing,” he added.
A woman whose body was carefully dug out from under the rubble looked as if she was asleep when the building was destroyed.
“For the first time in my life, I feel pure hatred,” said musician Igor Osoludko, 25, who was among dozens of volunteer rescuers.
In the meantime, the Ukrainian army announced the recapture of lands in the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk (east), partly under the control of separatists loyal to the Kremlin since 2014.
Ukrainian forces made gains on the western bank of the Dnieper River that runs through Kherson, but the Russian army said at a briefing Thursday that its forces had repelled “repeated attempts to breach our defenses” in the region.
To the west, along the line of contact with Russian forces in Ukraine from the Mykolaiv region where Ukrainian forces hid for months in trenches and were bombarded by Russian artillery, the mood seemed to change as on the front lines.
– “End of the Tunnel” – Bogdan, a 29-year-old from northwestern Ukraine who re-enlisted this year, spent most of the summer on the front line in Mykolaiv, about four kilometers from where the Russians were.
Speaking about the progress of Ukrainian forces in other regions of the country, he said, “We see their successes, and they inspire us.”
The Ukrainians’ further advance in Kherson puts more pressure on the Kremlin’s announcement last week to annex the region, along with three other regions, and to consider Moscow’s residents of these regions as Russian “forever.”
The four regions, Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhia, form a land corridor between Russia and Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
Together, the five regions represent an area equivalent to about 20 percent of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russian forces of “deliberately striking civilians to sow terror”.
In Russia, the opposition court convicted Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been imprisoned since April for denouncing the war, for “high treason”, his lawyer told TASS news agency.
Meanwhile, the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, is visiting Kyiv to discuss the establishment of a security zone around the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, the largest in Europe, after Putin ordered its bombing.
Grossi said Thursday it was “obvious” that the Russian-controlled plant is owned by Ukraine.
It has targeted the bombing of the vicinity of the region in recent months, while Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of the bombing, which raised fears of a possible nuclear disaster.
Grossi is visiting the Ukrainian capital ahead of an upcoming visit to Russia.