Pentagon: Putin’s nuclear threat won’t deter US aid to Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent threat to use nuclear weapons will not staunch U.S. aid to Ukraine, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson said Thursday. 

“In terms of the statements or the announcements coming out of Russia, it does not affect the commitment to continue working closely with our international partners and our allies on providing Ukraine with the support that it needs in their fight to defend their country,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters. 

Putin on Wednesday spoke about the possibility of using nuclear weapons during a speech in which he also announced the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of additional reservists for his war in Ukraine.

“The territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and freedom will be ensured, I will emphasize this again, with all the means at our disposal. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction,” Putin said. 

“I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and some components are more modern than those of the NATO countries,” Putin added.

The U.S. has been providing advanced rocket systems, drones, vehicles and ammunition to Ukraine, much to the Kremlin’s ire. The weapons have proved crucial in Ukraine’s successful push to take back large swaths of its territory since the start of the month.  

Ryder said U.S. officials remain focused on communicating with their Ukrainian counterparts, allies and partners on what they need, and Putin’s rhetoric will not affect that. 

“We will continue to have those conversations and we’ll continue to think through not only what they need in the medium-to-long-term, but also what they need now,” he said. “I don’t see those conversations being impacted by this situation.” 

Ryder also said U.S. officials are speaking with the Ukrainian government about what their military will need ahead of winter, which is expected to be brutal for soldiers on the front line. 

“We’re providing some winter gear, but we’ll continue to have those conversations and support them as we head into the winter months here,” he said.  

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