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Putin Warns of Nuclear War if West Sends Troops to Ukraine

Russian president Vladimir Putin
President Vladimir Putin again raises the danger of a nuclear holocaust. Credit: / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0

On Thursday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned of a nuclear war if Western powers send ground troops to Ukraine.

Addressing parliament and other members of the country’s elite during the annual State of the Nation address, Putin repeated his accusation that the West is bent on weakening Russia.

He suggested Western leaders did not understand how dangerous their meddling could be in what he cast as Russia’s internal affairs.

He prefaced his warning with a specific reference to an idea, floated by French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, of European NATO members sending ground troops to Ukraine – a suggestion that was quickly rejected by the United States, Germany, Britain and others.

“I want to assure you that there is no question of sending European forces, NATO forces, into Ukraine. There is no such issue for Greece and I believe that there is no such issue for the great majority of our partners,” Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

Putin: Threat of a nuclear war

“(Western nations) must realize that we also have weapons that can hit targets on their territory. All this really threatens a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons and the destruction of civilization. Don’t they get that?!” said Putin.

Putin, Russia’s paramount leader for more than two decades, suggested Western politicians recall the fate of those, like Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and France’s Napoleon Bonaparte who unsuccessfully invaded his country in the past.

“But now the consequences will be far more tragic,” said Putin. “They think it (war) is a cartoon,” he said.

Putin, who was speaking ahead of a March 15-17 presidential election when he is certain to be re-elected for another six-year term, lauded what he said was Russia’s vastly modernized nuclear arsenal, the largest in the world.

He also said the Russian military has the “initiative” in the two-year, full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and is advancing in several areas.

Ukrainian troops recently withdrew from the eastern town of Avdiivka – but overall, the frontlines have been largely unchanged for months.

No mention of Navalny and his untimely death

The BBC notes that Putin was speaking for about two hours, covering a range of key issues. But, as it points out, there was one name he refused to mention – Alexei Navalny – Putin’s most prominent critic.

Navalny’s death in a Russian Arctic penal colony earlier this month sparked a global outpouring of tributes and anti-Putin demonstrations, with his supporters convinced his death was a political assassination.

Hundreds of people were detained in Moscow, St Petersburg and other Russian cities for laying flowers in his memory.

Navalny will be buried in Moscow on Friday.

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