President Joe Biden, speaking to donors at a Democratic fundraiser in Los Angeles, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “didn’t want to hear it” when US intelligence gathered information that Russia was preparing to invade.
The remarks came as Biden was talking about his work to rally and solidify support for Ukraine as the war continues into its fourth month.
“Nothing like this has happened since World War II. I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating. But I knew we had data to sustain he” — meaning Russian President Vladimir Putin — “was going to go in, off the border.”
“There was no doubt,” Biden said. “And Zelenskyy didn’t want to hear it.”
Although Zelenskyy has inspired people with his leadership during the war, his preparation for the invasion — or lack thereof — has remained a controversial issue.
Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of Ukraine’s President’s Office, responded to Biden’s comments Saturday in Interfax Ukrainesaying that while the level of aggression from Russia was a shock, the country quickly rallied its military presence to fight back.
“Ukraine understood the intentions of the Russians, expected one or another aggressive scenario, prepared for it, which sharply broke the original Russian plans,” Podoliak wrote to Interfax. “I think it is pointless to blame the country, which is more than 100 days (into) a full-fledged war against a much more resourceful opponent, if key countries have failed to prevent the militaristic appetites of the Russian Federation, knowing them well.”
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►At least two civilians have been hospitalized following Russian shelling on the outskirts of Ukraine’s second largest city, according to regional emergency services.
►Mykhaylo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told the BBC that Ukrainian forces were losing between 100 and 200 troops a day.
►Intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine is prompting hundreds of people to flee further west.
Russia’s central bank cuts interest rates to prewar level
Russia’s central bank cut interest rates back to their prewar levels Friday, saying inflation and economic activity were developing better than expected despite sweeping Western sanctions imposed in response to the war in Ukraine.
The bank lowered its key rate by 1.5 percentage points, to 9.5%. The rate had been as high as 20% in the wake of the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions by the US, European Union and other nations that restrict dealings with Russian banks, individuals and companies.
Economists say that over time the sanctions will corrode growth and productivity, but the central bank has managed to stabilize Russia’s currency and financial system through drastic measures such as high interest rates, restrictions on flows of money out of the country and a requirement that importers sell their foreign currency earnings for rubles.
Ukraine: Russia said to be using more deadly weapons in war
Ukrainian and British officials warned Saturday that Russian forces are relying on weapons with the potential to cause mass casualties as they try to make headway in capturing eastern Ukraine and as fierce fighting depletes resources on both sides.
Russian bombers have likely been launching heavy 1960s-era anti-ship missiles in Ukraine, the UK Defense Ministry said. The Kh-22 missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they “are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties,” the ministry said.
Both sides have expended large amounts of weaponry in what has become a grinding war of attrition for the eastern region of coal mines and factories known as the Donbas, placing huge strains on their resources and stockpiles.
Contributing: Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism