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German President arrives in Ukraine as tensions rise


KYIV, Ukraine – The German president arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday for his first visit to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion, a trip that comes amid Moscow’s unwarranted warnings of an attack. dirty bombs” as the conflict entered its ninth month.

After his arrival, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, “It’s important to me that during this period of airstrikes with drones, cruise missiles and rockets, to send a signal of solidarity to the Ukrainian people.” , the German news agency dpa reported.

Steinmeier’s spokesman, Cerstin Gammelin, posted a photo of him in Kyiv on Tuesday. “Our solidarity is unbroken, and it will remain so,” she tweeted.

The German president, whose position is mostly ceremonial, arrived in Ukraine for the third attempt.

In April, he had planned to visit the country with his Polish and Baltic counterparts, but said his presence “seems… unwelcome in Kyiv.” Steinmeier has been criticized in Ukraine for allegedly being close to Russia during his time as German foreign minister.

Last week, a scheduled trip was postponed due to security concerns.

Steinmeier’s visit comes as Ukrainians are bracing for less electricity this winter after Russia repeatedly attacked their infrastructure in recent weeks. People in the southern city of Mykolaiv lined up to buy water and essential supplies on Tuesday as Ukrainian forces entered the nearby Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

Ukrainian authorities have tried to allay public concern about Russia’s use of Iranian drones to attack the country’s infrastructure, claiming to be increasingly successful in shooting them down. in Monday.

The head of Ukraine’s intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, said Ukrainian forces shot down more than two-thirds of the roughly 330 Shahed drones Russia shot down on Saturday. Budanov said the Russian military has ordered about 1,700 drones of various types and is launching a second batch of about 300.

Although Russia and Iran deny that Iranian-made drones were used, the distinctive triangular Shahed-136s have made a splash with civilians in Kyiv and elsewhere.

The UK Ministry of Defense says Russia has the ability to use a large number of drones to try to penetrate “Ukraine’s increasingly effective air defenses” – as an alternative to long-range precision weapons produced by the UK. Russian production “is becoming increasingly scarce”.

That assessment comes in addition to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s stern warning to his British, French, Turkish and American counterparts last weekend that Ukrainian forces are preparing a ” provocation” involving a radioactive device – a dirty bomb. Britain, France and the United States rejected that claim as “clearly false.”

A dirty bomb that uses explosives to disperse radioactive waste in order to spread terror. Such weapons are not as destructive as a nuclear explosion, but can expose large areas to radioactive contamination.

Russian authorities on Monday doubled down on Shoigu’s warning.

Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, head of the Russian army’s radiation, chemical and biological protection forces, said that Russian military assets are always ready for the possibility of radioactive contamination. He told reporters that a dirty bomb explosion could pollute thousands of square kilometers (miles).

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that “it is not an unfounded suspicion, we have serious reasons to believe that such things can be planned”.

Ukraine dismissed Moscow’s claim as an attempt to distract attention from its own plan to detonate a dirty bomb. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht on Monday dismissed Russia’s claim as “outrageous” that Ukraine could use a dirty bomb.

The White House on Monday again stressed that Russia’s allegations are untrue.

“It is not true. We know that’s not true,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “In the past, Russians sometimes blamed others for what they were going to do.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes that Moscow is creating the premise for the deployment of a radioactive device on Ukrainian soil. He also urged residents to conserve electricity, as an estimated 30% of the country’s power plants have been destroyed or severely damaged in recent weeks.

“Now is definitely not the time for bright facades and signs,” he said.

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Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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