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Ukraine updates: Biden fears 'Armageddon' after Putin threat

October 7, 2022

Putin has threatened to protect Russian soil using all means necessary — including nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian military was quickly retaking lost ground. DW has the latest.

Joe Biden at the White House
Biden said Putin's threat to use nuclear weapons was the biggest such threat since the Cuban Missile CrisisImage: picture alliance / Consolidated News Photos

US President Joe Biden said the world faces the "prospect of Armageddon" with Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening to use nuclear weapons to protect Russian territory.

Biden said the Russian president was "not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is, you might say, is significantly underperforming."

"For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons, if in fact things continue down the path they'd been going," the US president said in New York on Thursday.

However, the White House later clarified that Biden's comments were not related to any new intelligence information regarding the Russian use or movement of nuclear weapons.

The Russian leader has threatened to protect Russian soil using any and all measures necessary — including using nuclear weapons. Moscow recently annexed four Ukrainian regions, in violation of international law, and Putin has said Russia would see Ukrainian attacks on these regions as attacks on Russia itself.

Russia's illegal annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia followed what Kyiv and Western countries criticized as sham referendums in those territories.

Seven months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian military was quickly retaking lost ground, particularly in the south.

"There are successes in the east as well. The day will surely come when we will report on successes in the Zaporizhzhia region [in southeastern Ukraine] as well, in those areas that the occupiers still control," the Ukrainian president said.

Rising casualties in Ukraine's south

Here is more news from or concerning the war in Ukraine on Friday, October 7.

IMF approves $1.3 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine 

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) executive board approved Kyiv's request for $1.3 billion (€1.33 billion) in additional emergency funding to address food shortages.

The package will help meet Ukraine's "urgent balance of payment needs... while playing a catalytic role for future financial support from Ukraine's creditors and donors," the IMF said in a statement.

The funds come on top of $1.4 billion provided by the IMF to Ukraine since Russia's invasion. 

Ukrainian authorities and IMF staff are due to hold talks next week in Washington during the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank. 

IMF officials will later travel to Vienna for technical discussions with Ukrainian authorities about the country's monetary policies, according to media reports.

Zelenskyy: Ukraine has liberated 96 settlements in current offensive

Ukrainian forces have retaken control of 2,434 square kilometers (940 square miles) and 96 settlements in the east of the country, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of the country's most recent offensive.

"This week alone, our soldiers liberated 776 square kilometers of territory in the east of our country and 29 settlements, including six in Lugansk region," Zelenskyy said.

"In total, 2,434 square kilometers of our land and 96 settlements have already been liberated since the beginning of this offensive operation," he added in his nightly address. 

White House clarifies Biden's nuclear 'armageddon' comments

Following Biden's warnings about the threats of nuclear strikes coming from the Kremlin, the White House was forced to clarify that there has been no new intelligence or indications that Russia is preparing a nuclear attack.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Washington has also not changed its nuclear posture.

"We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture, nor do we have indications that Russia is preparing imminently to use nuclear weapons," she told reporters on Air Force One.

The president "was reinforcing what we have been saying, which is how seriously ... we take these threats," from Russia she added.

Germany registers more than 1 million Ukrainian refugees

The number of Ukrainians arriving in Germany after fleeing the war has surpassed 1 million, according to figures given to the news site T-Online by the German Interior Ministry.

Germany has registered a total of 1,002,763 refugees from Ukraine, although it is not clear how many of them have stayed and how many have either moved to another country or returned to Ukraine.

"We have saved the lives of many women and children from Ukraine," Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told T-Online. "We have managed this mammoth task well so far."

"The longer the war lasts, the more difficult it is to accommodate and care for so many refugees," she added.

Baerbock calls for 'clear' UN signal to Russia over annexation

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on the United Nations to make it "clear to Russia" that the areas Moscow annexed last week "belong to Ukraine." 

Next week the UN General Assembly will vote on a Western-drafted resolution to condemn Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Kyiv and its allies have denounced the referenda conducted and proposed by Russia in each of the four regions as illegal and coercive.

Zelenskyy calls for more European arms 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for more arms deliveries and defense investments as he addressed EU leaders in Prague via a video link.

"Increase the supply of weapons and ammunition to defend against the Russian pressure," he said. "Increase the manufacture of weapons and ammunition in Europe to be always ready to defend our common space." 

Zelenskyy recognized that the war had led to "unprecedented pressure on the standard of living of the absolute majority of Europeans," owing to rising energy bills.

But "like everything else in Europe, security is not something you can get by giving up something or signing a treaty. Security is a task," he said.

"We must be strong — until our common victory, to preserve all that we value so much," Zelensky added. "We must invest now in our defence, in our security, in our cooperation as much as possible."

UN agrees to appoint special rapporteur to scrutinize Russia over human rights

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday agreed to monitor the rights situation in Russia, marking the first-ever resolution focused on violations inside the country.

The 47-member rights body accepted the draft text presented by all European Union member states except Hungary, with 17 nations voting in favor, and six against, appointing a special rapporteur to monitor Russia. Twenty-four countries abstained from the vote, including China, Cuba and Venezuela.

The vote comes less than two hours after this year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to rights advocates from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, three nations at the center of Vladimir Putin's war.

Ahead of the council vote, Russian ambassador Gennady Gatilov criticized "the way in which Western countries are using the council to attain their political goals."

Nuclear risk 'increasing' after 'explicit threats' from Putin, says expert

Hans M. Kristensen, who is the Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, told DW on Friday that the fears of nuclear use in Europe are "increasing" because of the war going on in Ukraine.

There have been "very explicit threats of potentially using nuclear weapons" from Russian President Vladimir Putin which has only served to heighten these fears, the nuclear expert said.

"In Ukraine, he could use potentially anything he wants, from a short-range ballistic missile to a land attack cruise missile to a gravity bomb under a fighter jet, even an air-launched ballistic missile fired by an aircraft. So, he has many different options he could use."

As for the West responding, like for like, should Putin go nuclear, Kristensen says that is unlikely, with a "doubling and tripling down on sanctions to isolate Russia politically, economically, and diplomatically" the more probable response. 

Nobel Committee calls on Putin to stop repressing activists

The Nobel Committee said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's government was responsible for the suppression of human rights.

The committee said Putin was presiding over an authoritarian regime that is "suppressing human rights activists," head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, told reporters, adding that they wanted to highlight the "way civil society and human rights advocates are being suppressed."

The comments came as rights advocates from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine won this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Meanwhile, after winning a Nobel Peace Prize, Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties said Putin should face an "international tribunal." 

To "give the hundreds of thousands of victims of war crimes a chance to see justice... it is necessary to create an international tribunal and bring Putin, (Belarus President Alexander) Lukashenko and other war criminals to justice," Oleksandra Matviychuk, head of the group, said on Facebook.

Nobel Peace Prize to activists from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine

Ukraine urges Russians to lay down their arms

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Friday called on Russian troops to lay down their weapons, assuring those who relinquish now "safety and justice," while vowing to deliver "a tribunal for those who gave criminal orders."

Reznikov made the comments in the Russian language in a video addressed to Russian troops.

"You can still save Russia from tragedy and the Russian army from humiliation," he continued. "You have been deceived and betrayed" by the Kremlin.

"It's easier for them to tell you that you died heroically in battle against imaginary NATO hordes. It is true that NATO countries are supplying us with weapons. But it is Ukrainian soldiers who are beating you with these weapons," Reznikov said.

Reznikov added that "Ukrainian soldiers do not need Russian lands, we have enough of our own. And we are taking them all back."

Kyiv troops have been making gains while leading counter-offensives in the south and the east of Ukraine, retrieving territory.

EU chief Borrell calls for more Ukraine military aid

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wants the bloc's leaders to back another round of military aid for Ukraine. He also said he wants EU leaders to support his proposal for a training mission for Ukrainian troops. 

Previous EU military aid packages have been distributed in €500 million ($490 million) installments.  Up to now, some €2.5 billion has been distributed to Ukraine via a budget mechanism called the European Peace Facility.

Five killed by Ukraine attack in Kherson, says Russia-backed official

A Moscow-installed official in the Ukrainian region of Kherson said Friday that five civilians had been killed in shelling by Ukrainian forces.

"Militants from the Ukrainian military fired at a bus carrying civilians on the Daryevsky bridge. Civilians were on their way to work. As a result of the shelling, unfortunately, five people died and five were injured," Kirill Stremousov said on Telegram.

The Daryivskiy bridge is strategically important because it is one of the only Russian-controlled crossings across the Inhulets river — a tributary of the vast Dnieper — and it connects two Russian-occupied areas of the Kherson region.

Yacht owned by sanctioned Russian tycoon docks in Hong Kong

A yacht worth over $500 million (€510 million) owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Alexey Mordashov has arrived in Hong Kong waters, according to the website Marine Tracker.

The yacht, named Nord, docked in Hong Kong on October 5, records showed, after leaving Vladivostok in the Russian Far East some seven days earlier.

Mordashov was among several Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union and the United States in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine for their connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The 465 foot (141-meter) superyacht Nord was manufactured by German yacht-builder Lürssen.

The Hong Kong government's marine department did not immediately respond to questions about whether it was aware of the sanctions facing the vessel's owner.

Russian missile strike in Zaporizhzhia kills seven

At least seven people were killed and five others missing when Russian missiles struck an apartment building in the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine early Thursday.

Zaporizhzhia regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said Russia used S-300 missiles in the attacks that damaged more than 40 buildings.

Ukrainian firefighters push out a fire after a strike in Zaporizhzhia
The Zaporizhzhia regional governor said Russia used S-300 missiles in the attacks that damaged more than 40 buildingsImage: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

More than 20 individuals were rescued from the multistory apartment buildings, according to Starukh, who provided the casualty number.

Early on Friday, rescuers searched the rubble while a 3-year-old girl was taken to a hospital. 

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ab, jsi, ss/nm (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)