Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that chances of peace talks with Ukraine had been slashed by Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to visit US President Joe Biden. Speaking at a meeting of Russian military chiefs, Putin said that he is planning to deploy the hypersonic Satan-2 nuclear missile within weeks.
The mass-destroying missile can travel at a speed of 16,000mph, meaning it could hit the UK from 1,600 miles away in just six minutes.
After its firs test in April, Putin said the nuclear missile could “break through any defences”, urging leaders “who try to threaten Russia to think twice”.
The threat comes as Zelensky told cheering US legislators during a defiant wartime visit to the nation’s capital on Wednesday that against all odds his country still stands, thanking Americans for helping to fund the war effort with money that is “not charity,” but an “investment” in global security and democracy.
The whirlwind stop in Washington — his first known trip outside his country since Russia invaded in February — was aimed at reinvigorating support for his country in the US and around the world at a time when there is concern that allies are growing weary of the costly war and its disruption to global food and energy supplies.
Zelensky called the tens of billions of dollars in US military and economic assistance provided over the past year vital to Ukraine’s efforts to beat back Russia and appealed for even more in the future.
“Your money is not charity,” he sought to reassure both those in the room and those watching at home. “It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”
Just before his arrival, the US announced a new $1.8 billion military aid package, including for the first time Patriot surface-to-air missiles. And Congress planned to vote this week on a fresh spending package that includes about $45 billion in additional emergency assistance to Ukraine.
The speech to Congress came after President Joe Biden hosted Zelensky in the Oval Office for strategy consultations, saying the US and Ukraine would maintain their “united defence” as Russia wages a “brutal assault on Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation.” Biden pledged to help bring about a “just peace.”
Zelensky told Biden that he had wanted to visit sooner and his visit now demonstrates that the “situation is under control, because of your support.”
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The highly sensitive trip came after 10 months of a brutal war that has seen tens of thousands of casualties on both sides and devastation for Ukrainian civilians.
Zelensky travelled to Washington aboard a US Air Force jet. The visit had been long sought by both sides, but the right conditions only came together in the last 10 days, US officials said, after high-level discussions about the security both of Zelensky and of his people while he was outside of Ukraine. Zelensky spent less than 10 hours in Washington before beginning the journey back to Ukraine.
Declaring in his speech that Ukraine “will never surrender,” Zelensky warned that the stakes of the conflict were greater than just the fate of his nation — that democracy worldwide is being tested.
“This battle cannot be ignored, hoping that the ocean or something else will provide protection,” he said, speaking in English for what he had billed as a “speech to Americans.”
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Earlier, in a joint news conference with Biden, Zelensky was pressed on how Ukraine would try to bring an end to the conflict. He rejected Biden’s framing of finding a “just peace,” saying, “For me as a president, ‘just peace’ is no compromises.” He said the war would end once Ukraine’s sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity were restored, and Russia had paid back Ukraine for all the damage inflicted by its forces.
“There can’t be any ‘just peace’ in the war that was imposed on us,” he added.
Biden, for his part, said Russia was “trying to use winter as a weapon, but Ukrainian people continue to inspire the world.” During the news conference, he said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “no intention of stopping this cruel war.”