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Biden sceptical of Putin claim to have no intention of using nuclear weapon

US President Joe Biden expressed scepticism on Thursday about Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s comment that he had no intention of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Putin, in a speech earlier in the day, played down a nuclear standoff with the West, insisting Russia had not threatened to use nuclear weapons and had only responded to nuclear “blackmail” from Western leaders.

“If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it? Why is he talking about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon?” Biden said in an interview with NewsNation.
“He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this,” Biden said.

Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that Russia could use nuclear weapons to protect its territorial integrity, remarks interpreted in the West as implicit threats to use them to defend parts of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed.

In an interview earlier on CNN, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said it was possible Russia was considering the use of a so-called dirty bomb and was setting up a pretext to blame Ukraine. But he said the United States still had not seen any signs that was necessarily the case.

“They often blame others for that which they are doing themselves or about to do. So that’s why we have to take that seriously,” Kirby said of Putin‘s allegations.

“I’ll also tell you that we’re not seeing any signs, even today, that the Russians are planning to use a dirty bomb or to even make preparations for that.”

Key events

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today. My colleagues in the UK will be taking you through the latest for the next while.

Here is a summary of recent developments:

Japan is expected to announce a huge stimulus package to cushion the economy from the impact of a weak yen and inflation, though the central bank refused to budge from the ultra-loose policy that has hammered the currency, AFP reports.

The spending package is expected to include measures to encourage wage growth and support households with energy bills, which have spiked since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of cabinet approval for the relief measures, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government would “seek swift approval” of an extra budget worth ¥29.1tn (around $200bn).

Prices are rising in Japan at their fastest rate in eight years, although the 3% inflation rate remains well below the sky-high levels seen in the United States and elsewhere.

The yen has also lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar this year, prompting authorities to intervene to prop up the currency.

UK should match Norway’s 78% North Sea oil and gas tax, thinktank says

Helena Horton

A Norway-style windfall tax on energy companies could raise £33.3bn extra by 2027, plugging a hole in government finances and helping keep energy bills low, analysis has found.

The new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is looking at extending the “sunset clause” in the energy profits levy by two years beyond 2025 as a result of the booming profits fossil fuel companies have been recording owing to the war in Ukraine.

But the environmental thinktank Green Alliance says he could go one step further and increase the levy by 13 percentage points, to 78%, which would match Norway’s tax rate on North Sea oil and gas firms. Currently, the UK government has put an extra levy of 25% on the firms, on top of the existing 40% tax, bringing the total tax to 65%.

Increasing it further to match Norway would raise an additional £6.6bn a year until 2027, the thinktank says, making up 17% of the £40bn-a-year fiscal hole, or equivalent to annual spending on policing and fire services:

A Russian official’s threat this week to “strike” western satellites aiding Ukraine highlights an untested area of international law, raising concerns among space lawyers and industry executives about the safety of objects in orbit, Reuters reports.

“Quasi-civilian infrastructure may be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike,” a senior foreign ministry official Konstantin Vorontsov told the United Nations, reiterating Moscow’s position that western civilian and commercial satellites helping Ukraine’s war effort was “an extremely dangerous trend”.

No country has carried out a missile strike against an enemy’s satellite. Such an act during the war in Ukraine could sharply escalate tensions between Russia and the United States.

“This threat has brought us to a brink that we’ve never been to before,” said Michelle Hanlon, co-director of the University of Mississippi School of Law’s Air and Space Law program. “There’s always been a sense that this could happen, but never has somebody actually said that they might do that out loud.”

An antenna of the Starlink satellite-based broadband system in Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine’s military relies heavily on Elon Musk’s SpaceX for broadband internet beamed from its low-Earth orbiting Starlink satellite network. US firms like Maxar are capturing images of the war from satellites in orbit. And tens of thousands of communications devices in Ukraine rely on the US satellite communications giant Iridium’s satellite network.

Under the laws of armed conflict, a Russian strike on a private US company’s satellite could be seen as an act of war to which the US could respond, Hanlon said.

White House spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that any attack on US infrastructure would be met with a response but he did not go into detail.

“The legal aspects of all this are really murky at the moment,” said Brian Weeden, a space policy analyst at the Secure World Foundation. “We don’t have any examples of wartime uses of force against satellites.”

UN nuclear inspectors expect to reach conclusion on dirty bomb claim ‘very fast’

The UN nuclear chief said Thursday he is sending inspectors to two locations in Ukraine where Russia alleged that activities related to the possible production of “dirty bombs” was taking place and expects them to reach a conclusion “in days very fast.”

Rafael Grossi said inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would be traveling this week to the two sites, which are under IAEA safeguards, following a written request from the Ukrainian government.

Russia’s UN ambassador alleged in a letter to Security Council members this week that Ukraine’s Institute for Nuclear Research of the National Academy of Sciences in Kyiv and Vostochniy Mining and Processing Plant “have received direct orders from Zelenskyy’s regime to develop such a dirty bomb.”

The envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, said that information was from Russia’s Ministry of Defense. He said the ministry reported that work on a dirty bomb, which uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste in an effort to sow terror, is “at their concluding stage.”

Grossi said: “The purpose of this week’s safeguards visits is to detect any possible undeclared nuclear activities and materials related to the development of ‘dirty bombs.”’

Biden sceptical of Putin claim to have no intention of using nuclear weapon

US President Joe Biden expressed scepticism on Thursday about Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s comment that he had no intention of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Putin, in a speech earlier in the day, played down a nuclear standoff with the West, insisting Russia had not threatened to use nuclear weapons and had only responded to nuclear “blackmail” from Western leaders.

“If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it? Why is he talking about the ability to use a tactical nuclear weapon?” Biden said in an interview with NewsNation.
“He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this,” Biden said.

Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that Russia could use nuclear weapons to protect its territorial integrity, remarks interpreted in the West as implicit threats to use them to defend parts of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed.

In an interview earlier on CNN, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said it was possible Russia was considering the use of a so-called dirty bomb and was setting up a pretext to blame Ukraine. But he said the United States still had not seen any signs that was necessarily the case.

“They often blame others for that which they are doing themselves or about to do. So that’s why we have to take that seriously,” Kirby said of Putin‘s allegations.

“I’ll also tell you that we’re not seeing any signs, even today, that the Russians are planning to use a dirty bomb or to even make preparations for that.”

Welcome and summary

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be taking you through the latest for the next few hours.

US President Joe Biden expressed scepticism about Putin’s comment that he had no intention of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. “If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it?,” Biden said in an interview with NewsNation.

And the UN nuclear chief said Thursday he is sending inspectors to two locations in Ukraine where Russia alleged that activities related to the possible production of “dirty bombs” was taking place and expects them to reach a conclusion “in days very fast.”

Rafael Grossi said inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would be traveling this week to the two sites, which are under IAEA safeguards, following a written request from the Ukrainian government.

We’ll have more on these stories shortly. In the meantime here are the other key recent developments:

  • Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said the war in Ukraine is part of Russia’s wider struggle against western domination. “We are standing at a historical frontier: Ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War Two,” he said.

  • Putin said he ordered his defence minister to call top Nato commanders this week over the potential detonation of a “dirty bomb” in Ukraine. Putin claimed that Russia knew “about an incident with a so-called ‘dirty bomb’ being prepared”, and that Russia knew “where, generally, it was being prepared” in a speech near Moscow on Thursday. He gave no evidence of the alleged plot.

  • Fighting on the ground appears to have slowed in recent days, with Ukrainian officials saying tough terrain and bad weather had held up their main advance in the southern Kherson province. On Thursday a close ally of Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, said 23 of his soldiers had been killed and 58 others wounded in a Ukrainian artillery attack this week in Kherson region. After the attack, Chechen forces carried out a revenge attack and killed about 70 Ukrainians, he claimed.

  • Ukrainians living in and around Kyiv have been told of a “sharp deterioration” in the region’s electricity supply after a fresh wave of Russian strikes aimed at sapping public morale as the country’s cold winter approaches.

  • Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine’s occupied region of Zaporizhzhia ordered phone checks on local residents on Thursday, announcing the implementation of military censorship under Putin’s martial law decree.

  • Moscow has said that provisions of the Black Sea grain deal to ease Russian agricultural and fertiliser exports were not being met, and that it was yet to make a decision on whether the agreement should be extended. Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters that the west had not taken sufficient steps to ease sanctions on Russia’s logistics, payments and insurance industries to facilitate Russia’s exports.

  • The United States has not seen anything to indicate that Russia’s ongoing annual ‘Grom’ exercises of its nuclear forces may be a cover for a real deployment, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday. “We haven’t seen anything to cause us to believe, at this point, that is some kind of cover activity,” Austin told reporters.

  • An oil depot in the Russian-occupied city of Shakhtarsk, in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk, was engulfed in flames overnight on Wednesday. The city’s Russian-installed mayor, Alexander Shatov, claimed the fire was caused by Ukrainian shelling of the railway station.

  • The US is sending Ukraine a new $275m package of weapons and other aid, in a move to bolster the effort to drive Russian forces out of key areas in the south as the winter closes in, US officials said on Thursday.

  • Ukrainian authorities say they will launch a criminal case against Russia’s children’s rights commissioner, accusing her of enabling the abduction and forced adoption of thousands of vulnerable Ukrainian children.

  • Russian journalist and Putin’s rumoured goddaughter has fled to Lithuania, intelligence services in Vilnius said, after police in Moscow raided one of her homes. Ksenia Sobchak is the daughter of the former mayor of St Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak, whom Putin has previously described as his mentor.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2022/oct/28/russia-ukraine-war-live-news-updates-joe-biden-vladimir-putin-russian-nuclear-weapons-dirty-bomb-claim

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