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Damage to flagship is 'a big blow to Russia,' says Biden adviser Sullivan

By Victor Reklaitis

National-security adviser: 'They've had to kind of choose between two stories. One story is that it was just incompetence, and the other was that they came under attack.'

That was President Joe Biden's national-security adviser, Jake Sullivan, as he spoke Thursday morning at an Economic Club of Washington, D.C., event.

Sullivan's remark came after David Rubenstein, the club's chairman and the co-chairman of the Carlyle Group (CG), asked for a comment on Ukraine's claim that it had seriously damaged the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet.

Russia, for its part, didn't acknowledge any attack, but said the ship's entire crew had been forced to evacuate after a fire overnight.

The U.S. didn't have "the capacity at this point to independently verify" Ukraine's claim, Sullivan said.

See:Ukraine says it damaged Russian flagship, crew evacuates

In his remarks at the event, Sullivan also said the Biden administration would have "announcements in the next week or two" on efforts to evade Western sanctions on Russia in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine, adding that the U.S. announcements will "identify targets that are trying to facilitate that evasion both inside Russia and beyond."

In addition, Sullivan stayed tight-lipped when asked about reports that a senior U.S. official could visit Ukraine's capital, citing security concerns, but he did say: "Kyiv stands. We want to get Americans back there."

Rubenstein asked Sullivan about how intense his job is, including whether the national-security adviser has time for exercising or staying in shape.

"I'm not in fighting shape, physically," Sullivan said.

"I would say that the thing I've probably fallen down on the job most since beginning has been keeping up a really good exercise regimen and a good sleep regimen and a good diet. I mean, honestly, I've reverted to a certain extent to eating like I did in college."

Biden's White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, spoke last month at an Economic Club of Washington, D.C., event, addressing topics such as the view that the president has a left-wing agenda after running as a moderate in 2020.

U.S. stocks looked set to trade little changed in the final session of a holiday-shortened week, as investors digested results from major banks as well as economic data, including March retail sales.

-Victor Reklaitis

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-14-22 0926ET

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