• “No way for the leader of a nuclear-armed state to speak” says US State Dept.
  • Ukraine’s defenses knock down 13 Russian military aircraft in one short month
  • Former UK defense chief says Chancellor Scholz is “the wrong man in the wrong job”
  • Russian troops gobble up more land around Avdiivka
  • Report says Kyiv expects more losses unless they are given 2024 aid for renewed offensive

Russian president warns of “real threat” of nuclear war if West continues its support

In his annual speech to the nation on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again raised the specter of nuclear warfare should the West continue to send weapons to Ukraine. He warned of “tragic consequences” if Kyiv’s allies decided to send troops into battle, which the French president recently said “could not be ruled out,” while other NATO members firmly disagreed.

“They have announced the possibility of sending Western military contingents to Ukraine,” Putin said. “The consequences for possible interventionists will be much more tragic.”

“They should eventually realize that we also have weapons that can hit targets on their territory… Everything that the West comes up with creates the real threat of a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons, and thus the destruction of civilization,” he said.


US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller responded quickly to Putin’s threats at his regular briefing.

“It is not the first time we have seen irresponsible rhetoric from Vladimir Putin,” Miller said on Thursday. “It is no way for the leader of a nuclear-armed state to speak.”

“That said, we have no sign that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 20, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 20, 2024

Latest from the Institute for the Study of War.

Here is the full State Department press conference: (Putin remarks at 1:14:30)

Zelensky lauds defense forces for record number of downed Russian aircraft in February

“Ten Su-34s, two Su-35s, and one A-50 will no longer drop bombs on Ukrainian troops and civilians or coordinate massive missile strikes on Ukrainian cities and communities. I am grateful and proud of our warriors who achieved such outstanding results,” President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on social media Thursday.


The ten Su-34 fighter bombers were downed within ten days. Indeed, the 13 total Russian military aircraft shot out of the sky in February represented a record in the two-year-old full-scale invasion.

Zelensky not so subtly reminded his American audience that the numbers could be far greater once the US frees up the $60 billion in proposed funding for Ukraine.

 “Despite its limited capabilities and lack of air superiority, Ukraine managed to make February 2024 a disastrous month for Russian combat aviation. Consider what Ukraine could achieve with sufficient, timely, and uninterrupted military assistance,” he said.

“Control over the skies will save thousands of civilian lives and assist our troops on the ground. These are precisely the steps required to bring about solutions that will put an end to Russian aggression sooner,” Zelensky said.

Germany’s claims of UK, French operatives firing missiles for Ukrainians miff the Brits

While explaining his hesitation to send long-range Taurus missiles to Ukraine, specifying that it would be seen as direct involvement in the war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that this kind of weapon would not only be too long-range for Berlin’s taste but also technically would require German soldiers to assist Ukraine’s soldiers in training and firing.


He went on to say that his country would not do what UK and French soldiers did with their donated Storm Shadow missiles, that is, involve their people on the ground.

This led former UK House of Commons defense committee leader Tobias Ellwood to call Scholz’s remarks “a flagrant abuse of intelligence deliberately designed to distract from Germany’s reluctance to arm Ukraine with its own long-range missile system.”

Piling on, former UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that “Scholz’s behavior has shown that as far as the security of Europe goes, he is the wrong man, in the wrong job at the wrong time,” he told The Standard.

Operations: Avdiivka

Russian forces advanced west of the captured city of Avdiivka and reportedly seized several smaller settlements in the area on Thursday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported.

Geolocated footage published over the past two days shows that Moscow’s troops have rolled into fields south and southwest of Stepove (northwest of Avdiivka) as well as northwest of Lastochkyne (west of Avdiivka).

Kremlin-loyal online voices also claimed on Thursday that Russian forces captured Berdychi (northwest of Avdiivka) and Tonenke (west of Avdiivka) and most or all of Orlivka (west of Avdiivka), but all of these claims have been contested.


Bloomberg says Kyiv is prepared for more losses until more ammo gives them a push in 2024

American business-news outlet Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Kyiv is resigned to the fact that Russia will continue to gain along the eastern front lines, and could gain “significant momentum by summer 2024” unless partners start providing them with more ammunition.

Bloomberg interviewed sources close to Ukrainian leadership who stated that Ukraine expects Russian forces to decide between “continuing their current focus on gradual tactical advances and preparing for a larger breakthrough attempt in summer 2024” unless the geopolitical status quo in terms of funding is significantly changed.

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