1. US reassures Ukraine of continued security assistance
The White House said on Sunday it would continue to arm Ukraine, while declining to comment on an explosion that damaged Russia’s Crimea bridge.
“We don’t really have anything more to add to the reports about the explosion on the bridge,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
“What I can tell you is that Mr. Putin started this war, and Mr. Putin could end it today, simply by moving his troops out of the country.”
Kirby said both sides needed to negotiate an end to the war but that the Russian president had shown no interest in doing so.
“Quite the contrary,” he added. “By calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists, by politically annexing, or at least trying to annex four areas of Ukraine, he has shown every indication that he is doubling down.”
This was why the US would continue to provide Ukraine with “security assistance”, said Kirby, adding that his country’s officials were “in touch” with their Ukrainian counterparts on an almost daily basis.
Russia formally annexed four Ukrainian regions in the east at the end of September in a move that was condemned by Western countries and Ukraine.
Recent Ukrainian advances have routed Russian troops in certain areas of these disputed regions.
Following US President Joe Biden’s comments last week about the possibility of nuclear “Armageddon”, Kirby said the US had no reason to change its nuclear strategy.
“The president was reflecting the very high stakes that are in play right now,” he said, adding the White House had no indication Putin had made a decision to use the weapons.
2. Pope urges leaders to choose ‘the path of peace’
Pope Francis urged world leaders to learn the lessons of history and choose the path to peace amid rising nuclear tensions over the Ukraine war.
“We cannot forget the danger of nuclear war which threatened the world at the time” of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Pope said at Sunday mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
“Why not learn the lessons of history? Even at that time there were conflicts and enormous tensions, the path of peace was chosen,” said the 85-year-old Head of the Catholic Church.
The Pope’s comments come after Putin said he was ready to use “all the means” in his arsenal to defend Russia, amid sweeping Russian losses on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Biden later warned on Thursday that there was a risk of nuclear “apocalypse” for the first time since the Cold War.
According to the Vatican, around 50,000 believers attended Sunday’s mass.
3. Suspicions grow about ‘sabotage’ in Germany
Several German officials have called on authorities to increase protections around critical national infrastructure after large-scale “sabotage” on Saturday, with some alleging Russia may be involved.
The German newspaper Bild claims it has seen a police document which mentions “that sabotage of state origin could be at the very least possible”.
On Saturday, trains in and around northern Germany were disrupted after two cables were cut, paralysing the network for more than three hours. International rail services to Denmark and the Netherlands were also temporarily interrupted.
German police have not publically mentioned who they think is responsible.
Other German media outlets have suggested the incident could be the work of professionals, with intimate knowledge of the railway network, or extreme political groups inside the country.
Euronews cannot independently verify these claims.
According to the document cited by Bild, the fact that the cables were cut simultaneously in two different places, some 540 kilometres apart, points towards sabotage.
Saturday’s incident follows recent leaks of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, which Swedish authorities say could amount to sabotage.
German politician Anton Hofreiter, who is in the government coalition, also mentioned that Russia could be responsible.
“We cannot exclude that Russia is also behind the attack on the railway company”, he told the German press, alleging problems with Nord Stream 1 and 2 already bore “the trail of the Kremlin.”
German police have so far not publicly mentioned any particular leads after the incidents and massive delays on Saturday.
But the government quickly denounced sabotage. “It is clear that this is a targeted and deliberate action,” said Transport Minister Volker Wissing.
4. Crimea bridge blast deals Russia a heavy blow in Black Sea region
A huge explosion on Saturday tore through Russia’s Crimea bridge, a symbol of Moscow’s controversial annexation of the peninsula.
Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to oversee the rail and road bridge linking Russia and Crimea, following the early morning blast.
The Russian president has scheduled a Security Council meeting on Monday.
No one claimed responsibility for the huge blast, which killed three and caused a section of the bridge to plunge into the waters of Kerch Strait.
Russian divers examined the damage left by the explosion on Sunday, while destroyed parts of the bridge were removed by Russian officials.
Russia attributed the explosion to a truck bomb.
Moscow did not assign blame, while Ukrainian officials have not directly claimed responsibility, despite publically joking about the blast and mocking Russia.
The incident — coming one day after Putin’s birthday — has dealt Russia a stinging blow. The bridge is an important supply route for the Russian military fighting in Ukraine and a symbol of its power in the Black Sea region.
It was built in 2018, four years after Russia violated international law by annexing the Crimean peninsular.
At the time, Putin boasted that the hugely expensive bridge — the largest in Europe — “proved” Russia’s ability to carry out large-scale projects.
5. Scores dead and wounded after ‘Russian’ missile attack on Zaporizhzhia
A “Russian” barrage of missiles pounded apartment buildings and other targets in the city of Zaporizhzhia on Sunday, killing at least 17 people and wounding scores more, according to Ukrainian officials.
The blasts in the Ukraine-controlled city left at least one high-rise apartment building partially collapsed.
Some 20 private homes and 50 apartment buildings were also damaged.
At least 49 people were hospitalised, including six children, while dozens more were treated for moderate to light injuries.
Sunday’s attack came one day after an explosion on a key bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, which caused part of it to fall into the sea.
While Russia targeted Zaporizhzhia before the blast, the attack was a significant blow to Moscow’s prestige in the Black Sea region and damaged a key supply line for its troops in southern Ukraine.
Russian war bloggers called for retaliation against Ukraine after the explosion, though Kyiv has not claimed responsibility.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called the bombing on Sunday “merciless”.
“Absolute evil,” he said. “Savages and terrorists. From the one who gave this order to everyone who fulfilled this order. They will bear responsibility.”
In recent weeks, Moscow has repeatedly struck the southern Ukrainian city, which sits within a disputed region Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed in violation of international law last week.
At least 19 people died in a suspected Russian missile strike on residential areas in Zaporizhzhia on Thursday.