Russia began its annual nuclear exercises Wednesday, with President Vladimir Putin observing the large-scale drills of the country’s strategic forces via video. While the drills are routine, Moscow has threatened to use nuclear weapons several times since invading Ukraine in February.
The exercises came as Putin, in a meeting with the security services of former Soviet states on Wednesday, repeated the unfounded claim that Ukraine is planning to use a “dirty bomb,” an explosive device that includes radioactive material. Western officials have repeatedly denounced the claim as misinformation.
“Nobody believes the nonsense Russian accusations toward Ukraine,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in an interview with The Washington Post. Still, recent nuclear rhetoric has Western governments concerned, Reinsalu said, because of fear that Russia could “itself commit a nuclear terror attack” as a form of provocation.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
4. From our correspondents
European allies worry U.S. could dial back support for Ukraine: U.S. allies in Europe are growing increasingly concerned that the united front presented by the West in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could quickly unravel if Republicans are victorious in the midterm elections, ceding an advantage to President Vladimir Putin just when Ukraine is making progress on the battlefield, Liz Sly writes.
In the eight months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a rare level of transatlantic consensus has taken hold over the need to support Ukraine. Collectively, Ukraine’s allies have pledged more than $93 billion in military, financial and humanitarian assistance, with the lion’s share of that promised by the United States.
Since comments by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that a Republican-controlled House wouldn’t continue to issue “blank check” funding for Ukraine, officials in both Kyiv and Western Europe have begun to wonder whether Ukraine can continue to count on the United States.
Missy Ryan in Washington contributed to this report.