Putin warns West: Moscow has ‘red line’ on Ukraine, NATO

MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday sternly warned NATO against sending its troops and weapons to Ukraine, saying it represents a red line for Russia and would trigger a strong response.

Commenting on Western concerns about Russia’s alleged intention to invade Ukraine, he said Moscow was equally concerned about NATO exercises near its borders.

Talk to participants in an online investment forum. Putin said NATO’s enlargement to the east has threatened Russia’s nuclear security interests. He expressed concern that NATO could eventually use Ukrainian territory to place missiles capable of reaching Moscow in just five minutes.

“The emergence of such threats represents a ‘red line’ for us,” Putin said. “I hope it does not happen, and that common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the global community will eventually prevail.”

He added that Russia has been forced to counter the growing threats by developing new hypersonic weapons.

“What should we do?” said Putin. “We need to develop something similar to target those who threaten us. And we can do that now.”

He said a new hypersonic missile set to go into service with the Russian navy early next year would be able to reach targets in comparable time.

“It would also take only five minutes to reach those issuing orders,” Putin said.

The Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound to a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), has undergone a series of tests, most recently Monday.

Ukrainian and Western officials have this month expressed concern that a Russian military build-up is approaching Ukraine could signal plans from Moscow to invade its former Soviet neighbor. NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday warned Russia that any further attempt to destabilize Ukraine would be a costly mistake.

The Kremlin has insisted it has no such intention and has accused Ukraine and its Western supporters of making claims to cover up their own allegedly aggressive designs.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 after the country’s pro – Kremlin was ousted by mass protests and also threw its weight behind a separatist uprising that erupted in eastern Ukraine.

Earlier this year, an increase in ceasefire violations in the east and a Russian troop concentration near Ukraine led to war fears, but tensions eased as Moscow withdrew most of its forces after maneuvers in April.

Putin argued that in order to avoid tensions, Russia and the West should negotiate agreements that would protect each party’s security interests.

“The issue is not whether to send troops or not, go to war or not, but to establish a more just and stable development and taking into account the security interests of all international actors,” he replied when asked if Russia would invade Ukraine. . “If we sincerely strive for it, no one will fear any threats.”

The Russian leader noted that Russia has been concerned about NATO exercises near its borders, pointing to a recent exercise involving US strategic bombers.

“Strategic bombers, which carry precision weapons and are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, flew as close as 20 kilometers (12 miles) to our border,” Putin said. “It’s a threat to us.”

Following the build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine earlier this year, Putin and US President Joe Biden held a June summit in Geneva, where they agreed to launch a dialogue on strategic stability and cyber security. On Tuesday, Putin praised the cyber-security talks between Russian and American experts, saying “as with the pandemic, efforts are needed to pool efforts to work effectively.”

Asked about Biden’s bid to seek another term, Putin said he thought it would help US political stability. The Russian leader drew a parallel to his own re-election plans.

Although Putin has not yet decided whether he will seek another term before his current one ends in 2024, he said the possibility that he will stay has helped Russia’s stability.

The 69-year-old president has been in power for more than two decades – longer than any other Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Constitutional amendments approved in 2020 reset Putin’s previous term limits so he can run for president twice more and remain in power until 2036.

“In accordance with the Constitution, I have the right to be elected to a new term, but I have not yet decided whether or not to do so,” Putin said. “But the very existence of that right is already stabilizing the domestic political situation.”

Asked about China’s nuclear build-up, Putin said Russia was not worried about it, adding that close ties between Moscow and Beijing are an “important factor in global stability.”

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