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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Putin to NATO: Troop Deployment in Ukraine Risks Nuclear War

Vladimir Putin, in his annual State of the Nation speech, warned NATO nations of the potential for triggering a nuclear conflict if they deploy troops to Ukraine, escalating his threats against Europe and the US. Addressing recent remarks by Emmanuel Macron suggesting the possibility of sending European ground troops to Ukraine, the Russian president emphasized the “tragic” consequences such actions could bring.

During his two-hour address on Thursday, Putin acknowledged discussions about the deployment of NATO military contingents to Ukraine, cautioning Western nations about the reciprocal capabilities of Russian weaponry. He underscored the gravity of the situation, highlighting the risk of a conflict involving nuclear weapons and the dire consequences for civilization. Putin reminded the West of the historical repercussions faced by those who previously intervened in Russian territory, emphasizing that the fallout for potential interveners would be even more catastrophic.

Putin dismissed Western concerns about a potential Russian attack on Europe as “nonsense” but issued a stark warning of a nuclear conflict if the West attempted any form of “intervention” in Russia. He criticized what he perceived as a Western superiority complex, characterizing their approach as a dangerous game.

Following Macron’s comments, some Western countries, including Germany and the UK, distanced themselves from plans to send troops to Ukraine. However, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas appeared to support Macron’s stance, advocating for discussions on all options to aid Ukraine.

Putin expressed Russia’s readiness for dialogue with the US on arms control but underscored the full operational readiness of the country’s nuclear forces. As he approached an upcoming election, widely anticipated to secure him another six-year term, Putin painted an optimistic picture of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, asserting that Russian troops held the initiative and were liberating new territories in the war’s third year.

Recent Russian military successes on the battlefield, coupled with delays in US and EU military aid to Ukraine, have provided a boost to Moscow’s confidence. The Russian advance, highlighted by the capture of Avdiivka and the seizure of three additional villages, indicates a growing momentum in their operations. The delay in foreign military assistance has forced Ukrainian troops to scale back some operations.

Also Read: Sweden Trims Funding to Russian Church Amid Intelligence Alerts

In his address, Putin reiterated a hardline stance, insisting on Ukraine’s unconditional surrender. He referenced Kyiv’s lackluster counteroffensive and the partisan infighting in Washington DC causing delays in crucial US military aid to Ukraine. Putin called for the “denazification of Ukraine” and affirmed Russia’s commitment to achieving its objectives.

A significant portion of Putin’s speech was dedicated to addressing Russia’s population decline, attributing it in part to the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse and the toll of the Ukraine invasion on Russian service personnel. Putin proposed financial measures to support large families while criticizing “Western values” for allegedly eroding “family ties.”

The state-of-the-nation speech was broadcast live in cinemas and public venues across Russia, a move aimed at amplifying Putin’s message ahead of the presidential elections. Allies of the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny claimed that Russian authorities intervened to prevent his funeral on Thursday, fearing it would overshadow Putin’s speech. Putin has not yet commented on Navalny’s death.

Navalny’s supporters plan to gather in Moscow for his funeral on Friday, amid uncertainty about potential arrests by the police for those paying their respects.

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