Monday, April 15, 2024

Putin says West’s military aid won’t bail out Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin made an appearance at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday, delivering a lengthy speech and taking part in a Q&A session. Aside from economic topics, the president made multiple statements on international policy affairs, which primarily revolved around the ongoing conflict with Ukraine and a broader standoff against the collective West.

On Ukraine Counteroffensive

Russia’s president provided an update on the ongoing long-heralded Ukrainian counteroffensive, which began tentatively in early June. To date, Kiev’s forces have lost some 186 tanks and 418 armored vehicles of other types, according to Putin.

“Their losses are very heavy – about more than one in ten compared to the Russian army. That is a fact. In terms of hardware, the loss of this equipment is growing every day,” he said, adding that Kiev has thus far failed to achieve its goals, wasting its strategic reserves in the push against Russia’s forces.

West’s military aid no help

The intensified military action has caused a rapid depletion of Ukraine’s own war materiel stockpile, Putin said, predicting that the country’s armed forces are set to become entirely dependent on foreign aid in the nearest future.“Well, you won’t be able to wage war for long like that. Our defense industry, however, is growing day by day,” he said.Any weaponry Kiev receives from the collective West will end up destroyed, Putin warned. “Tanks are burning. Among them are the Leopards. They burn. So will the F-16s. There is no doubt,” the president stated, referring to the potential deliveries of advanced US-made aircraft long-sought by Kiev.

NATO involvement

The potential delivery of F-16 fighter jets would get the US-led NATO bloc even more deeply involved into the conflict, Putin said. Moreover, the aircraft may end up stationed abroad, while only operating in Ukraine’s airspace during combat sorties.

In such an event, “we will need to look at how and where we can hit those assets used in combat operations against us,” Putin said. “This is a serious danger of further dragging NATO into this armed conflict.”

On Security Guarantees

Moscow has never refused to engage in dialogue with the collective West, coming up with a comprehensive security deal proposal shortly before the ongoing hostilities started, Putin said. The West, however, rejected the dialogue – but it will ultimately be forced to abandon its confrontational stance.

“Regarding whether it is needed to conduct a dialogue with them or not, I repeat once again, we did not reject this dialogue,” Putin said. “It was them who decided to sever this dialogue with us. Well, they don’t want to talk… whatever. They will.”

Russia’s stance on nuclear weapons

Russia’s president also cautioned against normalizing talk of nuclear weapons use, warning that “the very fact of discussing this topic already lowers the threshold for their use.” At the same time, Putin rejected the idea of engaging in any nuclear disarmament talks with the West.

“We possess more weaponry of such sort than the NATO countries. They know that and are always trying to persuade us to start negotiations on reduction. ‘Nuts’ to them, you know, as our people say,” he said.

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