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Ukraine war latest: Putin suspends arms control treaty, Biden says Russia won't win
Key developments on Feb. 21:
- Biden says Putin's "murderous assault" in Ukraine will never end with victory for Russia;
- Russia suspends participation in nuclear treaty with US, Putin says;
- 6 killed, 12 injured in Russian shelling of Kherson as Putin delivered his speech.
Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden vowed in his speech in Warsaw that "Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia."
"I'll repeat tonight what I said last year at the same place. A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never be able to ease the people's love of liberties," Biden said, speaking in front of a crowd of thousands who gathered in the gardens of Warsaw's Royal Castle.
"Brutality will never grind down the will of the free. Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never."
Biden condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for unleashing a "murderous assault," saying he ordered tanks into Ukraine and attempted to starve the world.
"This war is never a necessity. It's a tragedy," he said.
"Russia stops invading Ukraine, it would end the war. If Ukraine stopped defending itself against Russia, it would be the end of Ukraine. That's why together, we're making sure Ukraine can defend itself," Biden added.
Biden came to Warsaw to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda and other European leaders a day after his surprise visit to Kyiv.
Previously, the U.S. president visited Poland last March. He called Putin a butcher and said, "for God's sake, this man cannot remain in power."
Russia suspends participation in nuclear treaty with US
Biden's speech in Poland comes hours after Putin announced the country's suspension of participation in a nuclear treaty with the U.S.
The New START treaty, the nuclear arms reduction agreement between the U.S. and Russia, was signed in 2010 in Prague. The treaty limits the size and composition of the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals and is the only remaining arms control agreement between both countries.
In his lengthy and aggressive speech to parliament and members of the Russian political elite, Putin said that Russia wouldn't let the U.S. or NATO countries inspect its nuclear arsenal, adding that a week ago, he signed a decree putting new strategic ground-based nuclear missiles on combat duty.
He also said that Russia is prepared to test nuclear weapons if the U.S. does so first.
The statement is recent in a series of nuclear threats that Russia has made since the beginning of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February.
Following Putin's announcement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that "the whole arms control architecture has been dismantled."
"I strongly encourage Russia to reconsider its decision and to respect existing agreements," Stoltenberg said during a joint press conference on Feb. 21 with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell.
He added that Russia has violated and withdrawn from other key arms control agreements over the years.
In response to Putin's speech, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, "nobody is attacking Russia. There's a kind of absurdity in the notion that Russia was under some form of military threat from Ukraine or anyone else."
Russian shelling of Kherson kills 6, injures 12
As Putin delivered his speech, saying that his country was "not at war" with the Ukrainian people but rather "the Kyiv regime" that has the backing of the West, his troops were shelling the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.
According to the Southern Operational Command, at least six people were killed and 12 injured. The military reported that the attack targeted Kherson's residential areas, critical infrastructure facilities, a local market, a kindergarten, a hospital, a bus stop, garages, and cars.
Several apartments in residential buildings have caught fire due to the shelling.
Earlier in the day, Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson Oblast Military Administration, reported hearing "at least 20 explosions."
Prokudin specified that the Russians presumably fired with the Grad rocket launcher.
Since Ukrainian forces liberated Kherson and other areas on the west bank of the Dnipro River in November 2022, Russian forces have continuously shelled these territories. The Russians were forced to retreat to the east bank of the river, from where they had been launching attacks on the liberated areas.
Following the liberation of Kherson, numerous reports emerged of torture chambers where thousands of Ukrainians were subject to physical and mental abuse.