Russia may be preparing to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, an act that would come at a “high price,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned on Sunday.
Sullivan told CBS News that Russian rhetoric is increasingly claiming that the Ukrainians and Americans will potentially use chemical or biological weapons “and that’s an indicator that in fact the Russians are preparing to do this, and trying to lay the blame elsewhere and no one should fall for it.”
Asked about the consequences, he said he would not go beyond what President Joe Biden said on Friday: “They will pay a heavy price.”
“We communicated this directly to the Russians,” he said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
The warning comes hours after a Russian airstrike on a military training base in western Ukraine killed at least 35 people and injured 134, a local official said. The assault brought the war to within 25 miles of the border with Poland after a senior Russian diplomat warned that Moscow viewed foreign shipments of military equipment to Ukraine as “legitimate targets”.
The United States and NATO have regularly sent instructors to the range, also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, to train Ukrainian military personnel. The facility has also hosted international NATO exercises. Just weeks before the war began, members of the Florida National Guard trained there.
The base has become a crucial logistical hub and training center since the start of the Russian invasion, The New York Times reported. It was not immediately revealed whether any foreign fighters were at the center when the assault took place.
Lviv region governor Maksym Kozytskyi said Russian forces fired more than 30 cruise missiles at the Yavoriv military firing range, located about 20 miles northwest of the city of Lviv. .
►’MASSIVE LOSS SITUATION’:Kyiv city center hospital braces for doctors carnage, fear will come
►’WORSE THAN HELL’:Mariupol mother fears for daughter as Russia besieges Ukrainian town
►American photojournalist Brent Renaud was killed in Ukraine, the New York Times said in a statement. The Times said Renaud was a “talented photographer and filmmaker” but was not on a media assignment and had not worked for The Times since 2015.
►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of trying to create “pseudo-republics” to break up his country. He urged Ukrainian regions not to follow the path of two eastern regions where pro-Russian separatists clashed with Ukrainian forces in 2014.
►An estimated 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia began its invasion, according to Zelenskyy, and 12,000 Russian soldiers have died.
►Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Mikhail Podolyak, said Zelenskyy would like to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin “as soon as possible” but said that would not happen immediately. Zelenskyy suggested Israel would ultimately be a good meeting place.
►Kiev is preparing for a possible blockade by stockpiling humanitarian supplies to support the city’s residents, city officials said on Sunday.
►Nearly 2.7 million Ukrainians have fled the country, according to the UN refugee agency.
►Russian fighters fired at the airport in Ivano-Frankivsk, a city in western Ukraine about eight kilometers from Ukraine’s border with Slovakia and Hungary, Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv said. He said Russia’s goal was to “sow panic and fear”.
USA TODAY/Suffolk Polls: Russian Americans and Ukrainian Americans Oppose War
American residents who identify with Russian or Ukrainian heritage express strikingly similar views on the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, a pair of exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll results. The two groups are united in their opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war fought hard on his orders.
The invasion is opposed by nearly everyone in both groups: 87% of Russian-Americans and 94% of Ukrainian-Americans. People of Russian origin have a more positive opinion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (72%) than of Putin (6%). By nine to one, they say Putin should be removed from office.
“Someone just needs to extract it,” said Dina Sarkisova, 44, who owns a spa in San Diego and was involved in the investigation. Half Russian and half Azeri, she arrived in the United States as a refugee in 1990, fleeing conflict in Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union. “There is no reasoning with him.”
Learn more about the poll and the votes of those interviewed here.
More than 30 cruise missile bases near the Polish border
In Mariupol, which has endured some of the worst punishment since the Russian invasion, efforts to bring food, water and medicine to the port city of 430,000 and to evacuate civilians, have been thwarted by constant attacks. More than 1,500 people died in Mariupol during the siege, according to the mayor’s office, and the shelling even halted efforts to bury the dead in mass graves. Russian forces shelled a mosque housing more than 80 children and adults in Mariupol, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of trying to break up his country, as well as starting “a new stage of terror” with the alleged detention of a mayor of a town west of Mariupol .
“Ukraine will stand this test. We need time and strength to smash the war machine that has come to our land,” Zelenskyy said during his nightly address to the nation on Saturday.
Russian soldiers looted a humanitarian convoy trying to reach Mariupol and blocked another, according to Ukrainian officials. The Ukrainian military said Russian forces captured the eastern outskirts of Mariupol, tightening their siege of the strategic port. Taking Mariupol and other ports on the Sea of Azov could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Since the start of the Russian attacks against Ukraine, 85 children have died, the Ukrainian government announced on Sunday morning. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova gave the victim’s number in a tweetadding the toll the war has taken on schools.
“Deliberate and brutal shelling of civilians continues. 369 educational institutions have been damaged, including 57 completely destroyed,” she said.
– Katie Wadington
Bus carrying refugees overturns in Italy, 1 dead
According to Italian public radio, a bus carrying around 50 Ukrainian refugees overturned on a motorway in northern Italy, killing one passenger and injuring several others, none of them seriously. RAI radio said a woman died and others on the bus were safely evacuated after the crash on Sunday morning near the town of Forli’. It was not immediately clear where the bus was heading.
About 35,000 Ukrainian refugees who fled the war entered Italy, most through its northeastern border with Slovenia. Forli’ is in the Emilia-Romagna region, which borders the Adriatic Sea and which has so far hosted around 7,000 refugees.
The accident is under investigation.
A Russian general has been killed in fighting in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said.
Major General Andrei Kolesnikov would be the third Russian general to die since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, taking an unusual loss for such a high-ranking military officer during the fighting. Kolesnikov was the commander of Russia’s Eastern Military District, according to the Ukrainian military.
Russia has not confirmed Kolesnikov’s death and has not shared many details about his military losses during the invasion of Ukraine. Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division, and Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, who had fought with Russian forces in Syria and Chechnya, had already been killed.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that seven people, including a child, were killed by Russian soldiers on Friday as they traveled along a humanitarian corridor, calling the act a “military crime”.
The ministry said Russian soldiers fired on a group of civilians, mostly women and children, behind “the agreed ‘green’ corridor”. The attack reportedly took place during an evacuation attempt in the village of Peremoga, which is in the Baryshevskyi district of Kyiv region. The number of non-fatal injuries from the shooting is unknown, the agency said.
The Ministry of Defense further claimed that after the shooting, the Russian soldiers would not have allowed other people to escape.
“At present, it is virtually impossible to contact them, as well as to provide them with humanitarian and medical care,” the agency said.
Contributor: Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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