MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin sternly warned NATO on Tuesday against deploying troops and weapons to Ukraine, saying it represents a red line for Russia and would trigger a firm response.
Commenting on Western concerns about Russia suspected intention to invade Ukrainehe said Moscow is also concerned about NATO exercises near its borders.
Speaking to attendees of an online investment forum, Putin said NATO’s eastward expansion threatened Russia’s core security interests. He expressed concern that NATO could eventually use Ukrainian territory to deploy missiles capable of reaching Moscow in just five minutes.
“The emergence of such threats represents a ‘red line’ for us,” Putin said. “I hope that does not happen to that and that common sense and responsibility for their own countries and the world community will eventually prevail.”
He added that Russia has been forced to counter growing threats by developing new hypersonic weapons.
“What should we do?” Putin said. “We would need to develop something similar to target those who threaten us. And we can do it even now.
He said a new hypersonic missile due to enter service with the Russian Navy early next year would be able to hit targets in a comparable time.
“It would also only take five minutes to reach those giving the orders,” Putin said.
Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound for a distance of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), underwent a series of tests, most recently on Monday.
Ukrainian and Western officials expressed concern this month that a Russian military build-up near Ukraine could signal Moscow’s plans to invade its former Soviet neighbor. NATO foreign ministers warned Russia on Tuesday that any attempt to further destabilize Ukraine would be a costly mistake.
The Kremlin insisted it had no such intention and accused Ukraine and its Western backers of pretending to cover up their own supposedly aggressive designs.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 after the country’s Kremlin-friendly president was ousted from power by mass protests and also supported a separatist insurgency that erupted in eastern Ukraine .
Earlier this year, an increase in ceasefire violations in the east and a concentration of Russian troops near Ukraine fueled fears of war, but tensions eased when Moscow withdrew the bulk of the war. his forces after maneuvers in April.
Putin argued that to avoid tensions, Russia and the West should negotiate deals that would protect the security interests of each side.
“The question is not to send troops or not, to wage war or not, but to establish a more just and stable development and taking into account the security interests of all international actors,” he said. he replied when asked if Russia was going to invade Ukraine. . “If we sincerely fight for this, no one will fear any threat. “
The Russian leader noted that Russia is 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 at a distance as close as 20 kilometers [12 miles] at our border, ”Putin said. “This poses a threat to us.”
Following the reinforcement of Russian troops near Ukraine earlier this year, Putin and US President Joe Biden held a summit in June in Geneva, where they agreed to begin a dialogue on strategic stability and cybersecurity. Putin welcomed the cybersecurity talks between Russian and US experts on Tuesday, saying “just like the pandemic, it is necessary to pool efforts to work effectively.”
Asked about Biden’s candidacy for a second term, Putin said he believed it would help U.S. political stability. The Russian leader drew a parallel with his own re-election plans.
Although Putin has yet to decide whether he will run for another term before his current term ends in 2024, he said the possibility of him staying 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 the boundaries of Putin’s previous term, allowing him to run for president twice and retain power until 2036.
“According to the constitution, I have the right to be elected to run for a new term, but I have not yet decided whether or not to do so,” Putin said. “But the very existence of this right is already stabilizing the domestic political situation.”
Asked about China’s nuclear build-up, Putin said Russia was not worried, adding that the close ties between Moscow and Beijing were a “major factor in global stability.”