In light of the three Ukrainian strikes on Russian soil in the past two days, Biden administration officials have made it clear that the United States was not tempted by those attacks.
Nor did it deter them.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who on Sunday called Russia’s attack on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure “barbaric,” said at a news conference on Tuesday that the administration “did not encourage or enable Ukrainians to strike inside Russia.” He added that the United States and its allies want to make sure that Kyiv’s forces have “the equipment they need to defend themselves, to defend their territory, to defend their freedom.”
Now, if the Ukrainians find their own ways to penetrate Russia’s defenses — as apparently happened when drones struck an oil facility near an airport on Tuesday, the day after they bombed two military bases — that’s their job, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has suggested.
Asked in the briefing whether the United States was trying to prevent Ukraine from reaching or developing long-range weapons that could reach military targets in Russia, Austin replied with a flat refusal.
“We’re not doing that at all,” Austin said. “We’re not working to stop Ukraine from developing its own capabilities.”
Ahead of Finland’s defense minister’s visit on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Finland needed to say publicly that it was lifting the arms embargo on Turkey to win Ankara’s approval of its NATO membership.
The warring parties exchanged 60 prisoners of war every Tuesday. More than half of them on the Ukrainian side took part in the doomed defense of the southern city of Mariupol, Reuters reported.
The head of the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate, Kirill Budanov, denied talking about the possibility of Russia running out of missiles after weeks of violent strikes targeting Ukrainian cities. He said Russia had enough weapons for “several massive missile strikes”.
The United States has secretly modified the advanced HIMARS missile launchers it provided to Ukraine so that they cannot be used to launch long-range missiles at Russia, Wall Street Journal he said, quoting a Biden administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. HIMARS has been a critical component of Ukraine’s battlefield successes in recent months.
Putin drives a Mercedes across the destroyed Crimean bridge; Russia holds Ukraine responsible for the bombings at air bases
An opinion poll showed that Americans’ support for Ukraine is declining
Nearly half (47%) of Americans now say Washington should urge Kyiv to negotiate a peace deal as soon as possible, a new poll shows, up from 38% in July.
And 48% of Americans think Washington should support Ukraine “as long as it takes,” down from 58% in July, according to a survey by Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
“As the fighting approaches winter, public opinion in the United States is now divided over whether the United States should support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the authors say.
Republicans led the decline in support. A small majority of Republicans now support the US providing military aid (55%, down from 68% in July and 80% in March) and economic aid (50%, down from 64% in July and 74% in March). Democratic support has remained relatively flat.
In October, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans would not write a “blank check” to Ukraine if they took control of the chamber, which they would do in January.
Overall, Americans continue to support supplying arms to Ukraine (65%) and economic aid (66%), accepting Ukrainian refugees (73%) and imposing sanctions on Russia (75%), according to the poll.
For the second day in a row, Ukraine appears to be hitting targets inside Russia
A fire broke out at a Russian airport along the Ukrainian border on Tuesday after an apparent drone strike, while a similar attack barely missed a warehouse 50 miles from the border where a defiant Ukraine seemed intent on bringing war to Russia.
The strikes came a day after Russian authorities said a truck exploded at a Russian airport, killing at least three people, and a drone damaged bombers at another. The bases, in the Saratov and Ryazan regions of Russia, are located about 300 miles from the Ukrainian border.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for any of Monday’s bombings, but Britain’s Ministry of Defense said that “if Russia assesses that these incidents were premeditated attacks, it is likely to consider them among the most significant strategic failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine.”
The Kremlin said it shot down two Ukrainian drones on Monday. Army spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the military “will take the necessary measures” to defend against “terrorist attacks” on its bases.
Russian companies were ordered to reject the price cap
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday that Moscow will ban Russian companies from selling oil to countries operating under the new Western embargo and price cap.
Novak spoke a day after an embargo on Russian sea oil shipments to the European Union and several other countries took effect, along with a $60-per-barrel cap for EU ships carrying oil to other countries or EU companies financing or insuring such shipments.
The international benchmark for oil sales has topped $80 a barrel, but Russia’s struggles to find buyers have already pushed the price of its oil to around $60.
The failure to stop attacks on Russian bases infuriates military bloggers
A Washington-based think tank reported that outrage over the failure to prevent attacks on Russian bases far from Ukraine’s border has outsold praise for the relentless strikes against Ukraine’s infrastructure among Russia’s influential military blogosphere. The Institute for the Study of War says bloggers blamed the military for the security breakdown because the bases were obvious targets.
In its assessment, the institute said, “Russian blogs called on Russian military officials to allow major retaliatory strikes against Ukraine and to intensify anti-terrorism measures inside Russian territory.”
Two more suspicious letters arrive at the Ukrainian embassies in Europe
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said two more Ukrainian embassies — in Denmark and Romania — received suspicious letters on Tuesday after several similar mails in recent days.
Ukrainian embassies and consulates in at least six European countries received bloody parcels with animal parts last week. On Thursday, an envelope sent to the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid exploded, injuring an employee.
“I ask those who continue to send these parcels and terrorize our embassies to relax and stop wasting time and money on postage stamps. You will not achieve anything with this,” Kuleba told a news briefing. According to the Kyiv Independent newspaper.
Kuleba said Russia or someone supporting its cause may have sent the messages in an effort to spread fear.
Zelensky visits the war-torn Donbass region
President Volodymyr Zelensky marked Ukraine’s Armed Forces Day by visiting troops in the eastern Donetsk region near the front lines on Tuesday. Speaking from the city of Sloviansk, a key Ukrainian stronghold in the raging struggle for control of the industrial Donbass region, Zelensky praised the troops for their decisive role in the war and vowed to drive the Russians out of the country.
“I am honored to be with you here in Donbass today,” he said. “I wish you the strength to heroically defend our state, as you do now.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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