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Ukraine war latest: Biden says Putin won’t use nukes; US cluster munitions already in Ukraine

by Alexander Khrebet July 14, 2023 12:55 AM 5 min read
US President Joe Biden during a news conference at the US-Nordic Leaders' Summit in Helsinki, Finland, on July 13. (Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Key developments on July 13:

  • Ukraine receives cluster munitions from US, says commander
  • Biden: ‘No real prospect of Putin using nukes’
  • Ukraine confirms striking on Russian military barrack in occupied Berdiansk
  • EU parliament adopts plan to increase ammunition production for Ukraine

The U.S. has already delivered the cluster munitions it had pledged as part of the latest $800-million aid package to Ukraine just a week ago, Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander for Tavria military sector confirmed to CNN on July 13.

He hasn’t specified the number of delivered cluster munitions. Cluster munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapons that disperse multiple smaller submunitions over a wide area.

“We just got them, we haven't used them yet, but they can radically change (the battlefield),” Tarnavskyi said.

Cluster munitions will give the Ukrainian forces an advantage on the battlefield, forcing Russian troops to give up the territory targeted by these munitions, according to Tarnavskyi.

The U.S. President Joe Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced the new $800-million aid package, including cluster munitions, on July 7.

While Russian forces have been using munitions with the dud rate of 30-40%, the U.S.-provided cluster munitions would have the dud rate not higher than 2.5%, according to Sullivan.

Cluster munition duds can injure civilians, which caused the debate over the delivery of such weapons to Ukraine. Some NATO allies were concerned over the delivery.

Over 120 countries banned using, developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or transferring cluster munitions in the 2010 convention. Ukraine, the U.S., and Russia are not signatories to the convention.

Brigadier General Tarnavskyi told CNN that Ukraine’s leadership would decide where to use these powerful weapons, emphasizing the restrictions on using clusters in heavily populated areas of Russian-occupied territories.

“The Russians think that we will use it on all areas of the front. This is very wrong. But they are very worried,” said Tarnavskyi.

In response to increasing Western military support for Ukraine, Russian officials are issuing explicit or implied nuclear threats against Kyiv and its allies.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on July 13 that there is no real prospect of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin using nuclear weapons against Ukraine or the West.

“Not only the West, but China and the rest of the world have said: don't go there,” Biden said in Helsinki, Finland, at a press conference taking place after the NATO summit in Vilnius.

Locals near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant brace for potential disaster: ‘It would be the end of us’
Editor’s note: For this story, the Kyiv Independent talked to residents who live in Russian-occupied settlements in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. For their safety, we have changed their names. From the rooftop of his home, Anton can easily see the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear plant…

Ukraine confirms strike on Russian barrack in occupied city

The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces has confirmed the July 11 strike on a hotel in the occupied port city of Berdiansk in Zaporizhzhia Oblast that was used as barracks for the Russian military.

In its morning update on July 13, the military reported that Russian forces had been actively transporting the bodies of killed troops from the Dune hotel to local morgues.

Russian pro-war Telegram channels reported on July 11 that the strike on the Dune hotel killed a top Russian general, Oleg Tsokov. They claimed that a Storm Shadow long-range missile was used in the attack. The Ukrainian military didn’t say what weapon was used in the attack.

The next day, a Russian lawmaker and former commander of the 58th Army Andrey Gurulev said on Russian state TV that Tsokov had been killed.

Ukraine’s General Staff hasn’t mentioned Tsokov or any other possible targets in its report confirming the attack in Berdiansk.

Berdiansk is in southern Ukraine, in the area where Ukrainian forces are conducting its counteroffensive, launched in early June.

According to the exiled Russian media outlet, Meduza, Tsokov was deputy commander of Russia's Southern Military District.

Tsokov was reportedly injured in Ukraine in September 2022.

Russia’s attacks

The General Staff in its evening update on July 13 reported that Russian forces launched two Kalibr cruise missiles, an Iskander-M ballistic missile, and 20 Shakhed kamikaze drones across Ukraine over the past day.

Ukrainian forces reported downing all the Kalibr missiles and Iranian loitering munitions, according to the report. The military didn’t say whether the Iskander-M missile was downed or hit a site.

Around half of the 20 drones targeted Kyiv. Although they were reportedly downed, the debris has fallen in five out of Kyiv’s 10 districts, injuring two civilians and damaging houses, according to Kyiv authorities.

In addition, Russian forces conducted 46 airstrikes and about 40 shelling attacks against the Ukrainian positions, as well as cities and villages, causing civilian casualties and infrastructure damage.

The attacks were reported in Sumy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and Donetsk Oblast.

Russian forces focus their military efforts in eastern Ukraine, where 20 combat clashes were reported in the areas near Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka.

Investigation: EU inability to ramp up production behind acute ammunition shortages in Ukraine
Editor’s note: This investigation is a collaboration between the Kyiv Independent and partners, including The Investigative Desk, Lighthouse Reports, and Follow the Money (Netherlands), El Diario (Spain), Delfi (Estonia), and Libération (France). Key findings: * Over a year into Russia’s full-sca…

EU parliament adopts plan to increase ammunitions production for Ukraine

The European Parliament adopted a $560-million plan on July 13 to increase ammunition and missile production for Ukraine to help the country defend itself against Russia's invasion.The Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) also aims to speed up delivery to the Ukrainian military.

ASAP is part of the EU's plan first presented early this year to deliver $2.2 billion worth of artillery rounds to Ukraine. The shipments should include both current stocks and newly produced shells.

"We delivered on the most urgent aspect of the law: ensuring the provision of more ammunition for Ukraine. It is a testimony of Europe's solidarity and for our collective security," said the leader of the parliament's negotiating team Cristian Busoi.

The legislation needs to be approved by the European Council to become law.

Former NATO envoy to Moscow: ‘Potential escalation with Russia is a myth’
The West failed to understand the Russian regime before the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Robert Pszczel, the former NATO envoy to Moscow from 2010-2015, said on the sidelines of the Warsaw International Summit in Kyiv on July 7. Once the punching bag of Russian propagandists during his appearances on…
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