Kirby added, without disclosing any classified information, and given recent developments in the war, Putin is having problems with weapons supplies. Most likely, he said, the problems were caused by the penalties affecting his offensive and defensive systems.
The remarks come after US President Joe Biden promised that Washington would provide Ukraine with advanced air defense systems. On the other hand, earlier the Kremlin commented that supplying Kyiv with air defense from the US would make the conflict “more painful”.
Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday after Russian missile strikes targeting cities in Ukraine, condemning the strikes and pledging continued US security assistance “including advanced air defense systems.”
During the call, according to a White House statement, Biden “expressed his condemnation of Russia’s missile strikes in Ukraine, including in Kyiv, and conveyed his condolences to the families of those killed and injured in these senseless attacks.” Biden has pledged to continue providing Ukraine with the support it needs to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems.
The White House did not specify which air defense systems Biden discussed with Zelensky, but the United States previously committed to providing Ukraine with advanced surface-to-air missile systems. NASAMS will be able to intercept Russian cruise missiles.
Biden, the statement said, “also emphasized his continued commitment with allies and partners to continue to impose costs on Russia, hold Russia accountable for its war crimes and atrocities, and provide Ukraine with security, economic and humanitarian assistance.”
Asked whether the attacks of the past 24 hours would change the calculus of what the U.S. would consider offering Ukraine, a senior administration official said they had no statements on that front, but that the U.S. would continue to help provide Ukraine with short timelines and systems for air defense.
A second senior administration official provided the following summary of U.S. air defense assistance to Ukraine: “We have transferred more than 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine, as well as air surveillance radars and multi-role radars. We have enabled our allies to transfer their own air defense systems to Ukraine – including Slovakia’s delivery of a critical S-300 system in April. And in August, President Biden announced a new aid package for Ukraine that includes orders for 8 new NASAMS — advanced surface-to-air missile systems. We will continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs to defend itself.”
As of a Defense Department briefing in late September, the US has still not delivered NASAMS to Ukraine. At the time, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said two systems are expected to be delivered in the next two months, with the remaining six to arrive at an unspecified date.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday to reaffirm US support after the deadly strikes. Russia fired a total of 84 cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine on Monday, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a Facebook post.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the strikes were a response to what he described as “terrorist acts” by Kyiv. Specifically, he referred to Saturday’s explosion of the Kerch bridge linking Russia and Crimea – which he blamed on Ukraine’s “special services” – and a list of other alleged “crimes”.
Kuleba said such claims were “nonsense,” tweeting, “Putin is desperate because of battlefield defeats and is using missile terror to try to turn the tide of the war in his favor.” Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency said in a statement on Monday that Moscow had been planning a “large-scale” missile attack on Ukraine since early last week.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, also recently said he believed Moscow should aim for the “complete dismantling” of Zelensky’s “regime”.
In a post on Telegram, Medvedev, who was president of Russia between 2008 and 2012, said: “The Ukrainian state in its current configuration … will pose a constant, direct and clear threat to Russia. Therefore, in addition to protecting our people and the protection of the country’s borders, the goal of our future actions, in my opinion, should be the complete destruction of the political regime of Ukraine”.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said there were likely to be additional support packages for Ukraine announced: “in the very near future.” “Clearly he (Putin) is under pressure both at home and abroad and how he reacts to that only he can say,” Kirby said. “He understands well that he does not do well on the battlefield.”
Asked if he thought such strikes made it more likely that Putin would resort to nuclear weapons, Kirby said the US had seen nothing new.
“We continue to monitor his nuclear capabilities, as best we can. And what I can tell you today is that we just don’t see any indication that Putin has made a decision to use weapons of mass destruction or even nuclear weapons. And we’re not have seen nothing to give us reason to change our own deterrent posture,” Kirby said.
The mention of the air defense system comes amid a series of escalations in the war.
Putin gave a speech last month in which he announced the partial mobilization of some 300,000 reservists after successful Ukrainian counterattacks, raising the specter of nuclear weapons if he deemed Russia’s “territorial integrity” threatened. And the Russian president recently announced the annexation of four Ukrainian regions in violation of international law.
Last week, Biden issued a stark warning about the dangers of Putin’s nuclear threats, citing the prospect of “Armageddon.” But many US officials said the comment was not based on new intelligence about Putin’s intentions or changes in Russia’s nuclear posture.