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Putin warns of further retaliation, Biden to ask Congress for new aid package

President Joe Biden will ask Congress to fund a new Ukraine aid package Thursday, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News, as the West steps up its support for Kyiv and embraces a more ambitious goal of weakening Russia in spite of intensifying threats and action from the Kremlin.

Biden’s White House remarks will come after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of “lightning fast” retaliation against any countries that interfere in Ukraine, where Russian forces increased their attacks on the country’s east in search of a military breakthrough.

The Kremlin’s move to cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, two NATO members, left Europe to confront the prospect of an energy crisis as the conflict increasingly extends into a broader standoff with Russia over economic sanctions and military shipments.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Moscow of using gas and trade as weapons, even as his efforts to rally support for his country’s defensive cause appeared to be succeeding despite Putin’s efforts to weaken the West’s resolve. Zelenskyy will hold talks with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in Kyiv on Thursday, after Guterres met with Putin earlier this week to promote diplomacy and efforts to evacuate civilians trapped in Mariupol.

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Biden to ask Congress for new Ukraine aid package Thursday

President Joe Biden will request Congress fund a new supplemental aid package for Ukraine during remarks from the White House Thursday morning, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The extra funding is intended to last for the next five months, through the end of the fiscal year, the sources said. Administration officials earlier described the amount of the request as “massive” but would not provide a specific dollar amount. Some details were still not finalized, the officials said.

The military aid is expected to include capabilities Ukraine could use now and equipment for the longer term.

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Aftermath in Kharkiv

A man rides a bicycle past a destroyed house in the village of Derhachi, north of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, on Wednesday.Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP via Getty Images

Explosions boom in Russian-occupied city of Kherson

In the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, a series of explosions boomed near the television tower late Wednesday and at least temporarily knocked Russian channels off the air, Ukrainian and Russian news organizations reported.

The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said missiles and rockets were fired at the city from the direction of the Ukrainian forces to the northwest. NBC News has not independently verified the allegation.

Kherson has been occupied by Russian forces since early in the war. Russia has been determined to strengthen its control over the city, but residents have continued to come out onto the streets to protest the occupation.

Russian navy can still strike Ukraine, has 20 vessels in Black Sea, U.K. says

The Russian navy is still able to hit Ukrainian targets from the Black Sea despite the high-profile loss of its fleet’s flagship, the British defense ministry has said.

“Despite the embarrassing losses of the landing ship Saratov and cruiser Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet retains the ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets,” it said in an intelligence update Thursday.

The ministry said there are approximately 20 Russian naval vessels in the Black Sea operational zone, including submarines.

Germany bought most Russian energy during first months of Ukraine war, study finds

An independent research group says Germany was the biggest buyer of Russian energy during the first two months of the war in Ukraine.

A study published by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air calculates that Russia earned $66.5 billion from fossil fuel exports since Russian troops attacked Ukraine two months ago.

Using data on ship movements, real-time tracking of gas flows through pipelines and estimates based on historical monthly trade, the researchers reckon Germany paid Russia about $9.57 billion for fossil fuel deliveries in the first two months of the war.

The German government said it can’t comment on estimates, and it declined to provide any figures of its own.

Zelenskyy calls Russia cutting off gas to Poland ‘blackmail’

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