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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Biden to speak on Ukraine as nations gird for long conflict

By Marc Santora

President Joe Biden, whose administration has grown increasingly bold in its support for Ukraine, is scheduled to update the American public on the state of the war Thursday, as Western nations funnel heavy weapons to Ukraine and fears grow that the conflict could widen in unpredictable ways.

A day after President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia had “all the tools” needed to respond if threatened — implicitly referring to Moscow’s ballistic missiles and nuclear arsenal — Britain’s top defense official said that Ukraine would be justified if it used Western arms to attack military targets inside Russia. But Defense Secretary Ben Wallace signaled that the war could drag on, with Moscow’s invasion devolving into a “slow-moving, frozen occupation.”

Russia’s decision this week to cut off gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria was the first time that Moscow has used its position as Europe’s central gas supplier as a weapon, a move denounced by the European Union as blackmail.

As the economic costs of the war grow, explosions this week in Transnistria, a breakaway enclave in Moldova on Ukraine’s southwestern border, raised concerns that fighting could spill over. Amid warnings that Russia could use the region to stage a renewed assault on the Black Sea port city of Odesa, Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration, said Ukraine was now moving more troops to the border with Moldova to prevent any possible aggression.

Here are other major developments:

— U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres declared the war “an absurdity” as he toured locations where Russian forces killed scores of civilians in their failed march on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

— European Union countries are scrambling to work out how to pay for Russian gas without running afoul of their own economic sanctions and still meet the Kremlin’s demand for payment in rubles.

— The German parliament voted overwhelmingly to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine, a largely symbolic move to show unity after the government announced the plan earlier this week.

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