Russian leader delivers a bellicose warning to the West while vowing his ‘special operation’ in Ukraine will be ‘unconditionally fulfilled’.
Western nations’ intervention in Ukraine will be met with a “lightning-quick” military response, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned.
The threat from Putin came as Russia claimed on Wednesday to have carried out a missile strike in southern Ukraine that destroyed a “large batch” of Western-supplied weapons.
Countries aiding Ukraine “that get it into their heads to meddle in ongoing events from the side and create unacceptable strategic threats for Russia, they must know that our response to counterpunches will be lightning-quick”, said the Russian leader.
“We have all the tools for this that no one else can boast of having,” Putin told lawmakers in St Petersburg, implicitly referring to Moscow’s ballistic missiles and nuclear arsenal.
“We won’t boast about it: We’ll use them if needed and I want everyone to know that. We have already taken all the decisions on this.”
Russia’s leader was not specific but he recently oversaw the successful test of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which Russia is soon expected to deploy with the capability for each to carry 10 or more nuclear warheads.
Putin promised to finish what he called the “special military operation” in Ukraine, which Moscow considers historically to be Russian. He blamed NATO nations and their allies for instigating the battle currently under way in Ukraine.
“The countries that have historically tried to contain Russia don’t need a self-sufficient, massive country such as ours. They think it is dangerous to them just by means of its existence. But that is far from the truth. They are the ones threatening the whole world,” said Putin.
By launching the offensive in Ukraine, Russian forces neutralised “a real danger of … a major conflict that would have unfolded on our territory according to other people’s scripts”, said Putin.
He alleged NATO planned to use Ukraine as a route to invade Russia through the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and the separatist-held eastern Donbas border region.
“All the tasks of the special military operation we are conducting in the Donbas and Ukraine, launched on February 24, will be unconditionally fulfilled,” Putin said, adding Western attempts to “economically strangle Russia” through sanctions had failed.
On the battlefield on Wednesday, fighting continued in Ukraine’s east along a largely static front line about 480km (300 miles) long. Russia claimed its missiles hit a batch of weapons that the United States and European nations had delivered to Ukraine.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES