U.S. says it will continue offering security assistance to Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: The White House in Washington
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(Reuters) -The White House said on Sunday it would continue to arm Ukraine but declined direct comment on an explosion that damaged Russia's road-and-rail bridge to Crimea.

"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 ABC's "This Week" program. "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 find a way to negotiate an end to the war but that Putin 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," Kirby added.

This, said Kirby, "is why, quite frankly, we are in touch almost daily with the Ukrainians and we’re going to continue to provide them security assistance."

Largely echoing the White House's comments last week after U.S. President Joe Biden referenced the possibility of nuclear "Armageddon," Kirby said the United States had no indication that Putin had made a decision to use nuclear weapons and that there was no reason to change the U.S. strategic posture.

"The president was reflecting the very high stakes that are in play right now ... when you have a modern nuclear power, and the leader of that modern nuclear power, willing to use irresponsible rhetoric the way Mr. Putin has," Kirby said.

(Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York and by Arshad Mohammed in Saint Paul, Minn.Editing by Matthew Lewis)