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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Putin: Western Troop Deployment to Ukraine Risks Nuclear War

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning to the West about the potential for nuclear conflict if their troops are deployed to support Ukraine, asserting that Moscow possesses the capability to target Western entities. During his annual State of the Nation address on Thursday, Putin dismissed claims of Russia intending to attack Europe as “nonsense” but cautioned that nuclear strikes on Western nations could occur.

In response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion of deploying Western troops to Ukraine, Putin stated, “All these threats they are making now, putting the entire world at risk – it all points to a conflict involving nuclear weapons and, consequently, the endangerment of civilization. Do they not comprehend this?” Putin emphasized that the West should recognize Russia’s possession of weapons capable of reaching targets on their territories.

This isn’t the first instance of Putin invoking the nuclear threat since Russia initiated its extensive invasion of Ukraine over two years ago. Last year, Russia deployed tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, and recent reports suggest Russia is working on a nuclear space weapon capable of satellite destruction.

Support for Macron

While Macron’s proposal to send Western troops to Ukraine has faced rejection from several European leaders, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, expressed full support for Macron’s approach. Landsbergis told CNN that “like-minded countries” could contribute to Ukraine’s fight by sending personnel, emphasizing that it might involve non-combat roles such as training and other forms of assistance.

He clarified that this potential assistance wouldn’t be under NATO or EU auspices but could involve a coalition of nations sharing similar sentiments and readiness to aid Ukraine. Landsbergis cited signs, including rhetoric, practical actions, and military movements, indicating that Russia may not be planning to halt its activities in Ukraine. He pointed out reports suggesting Russia might mobilize an additional 400,000 troops, possibly near NATO’s borders.

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

Landsbergis stressed the importance of Ukraine winning to prevent the conflict from spreading, especially into NATO countries. Meanwhile, the US State Department labeled Putin’s comments as “irresponsible rhetoric” and stated that there were no signs of Russia preparing to use nuclear weapons. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller asserted that they would continue to monitor the situation closely and had previously communicated with Russia about the consequences of using nuclear weapons.

On the campaign trail

Putin’s address, lasting over two hours, set a new record according to Russian state media TASS. The timing, just ahead of the March 17 presidential election, where Putin is expected to secure a fifth term until at least 2030, marked a significant moment. He praised the military’s progress in Ukraine, stating it confidently advances and now holds the initiative, especially after Kyiv retreats from Avdiivka. Putin announced plans to strengthen military presence along the Western border to counter perceived threats of NATO expansion after Finland and Sweden joined the alliance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The speech highlighted Russia’s economic performance and introduced new national projects before the election. Putin faces little credible opposition, as anti-war candidates were barred, and Alexey Navalny, a formidable opponent, recently died in prison. Despite Western sanctions, Putin claimed Russia’s economy outpaced the rest of the world, particularly the G7 countries. He acknowledged demographic challenges, urging support for families with children and announcing social programs for mothers.

In terms of health policy, Putin invoked a Soviet-era motto, advising citizens to “Stop drinking, start skiing.” He applauded those involved in the “special military operation” in Ukraine, promising veterans opportunities for higher education and civilian specialties in leading universities. Putin distinguished them as Russia’s “true, real elite” compared to those who profited in the economic upheavals of the 1990s while the Soviet Union collapsed.

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