Vladimir Putin and the Russian military leadership have hardened the tone of their threats to the West while still awaiting a response from Washington to their proposals to guarantee the safety of both nuclear powers. In a meeting with the Defense Ministry, the Russian president and his generals on Tuesday accused the United States of bringing mercenaries to eastern Ukraine and of deploying some 8,000 military personnel along its borders, at the same time as they warned that the missiles Russian hypersonics “are in combat mode” and that the rest of their arsenal has been modernized. “In the event that the aggressive line of Western colleagues clearly continues, we will take appropriate military-technical retaliation measures. We will react harshly to their hostile measures, ”Putin said in reference to NATO members. The president has said he has “every right to do so to guarantee the security and sovereignty of Russia.”
The new hypersonic weapons of the Kremlin, such as the Avangard and Kinzhal systems, can bypass the anti-missile shield deployed by the United States in Europe (in Poland and Romania). According to the Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, 90% of the Russian nuclear arsenal has already been modernized to adapt it to this new weaponry. Shoigu has also promised to triple the total number of cruise missiles by 2026. Putin, for his part, has indicated that Washington will deploy its new-generation missiles in Ukraine as soon as they are ready to encourage Kiev to carry out an attack.
“The United States does not yet have hypersonic weapons, but we know when it could develop them. There is no way to hide it, everything is recorded “, said the Russian president before speculating that Washington,” under this cover, could arm the extremists of the neighboring country and push them against Russia, against some Russian regions in particular … we will say Crimea ”.
In their conversation on December 7, Putin announced to US President Joe Biden that he would soon present a proposal with a series of guarantees for international security. These were published on the 17th, and included the withdrawal of NATO from eastern Europe and the Atlantic Alliance renouncing any kind of connection with Ukraine. With hardly any concessions, Moscow also proposed reducing military exercises at the borders to the maximum size of one brigade and addressing the deployment of missiles in both territories.
“We need long-term binding guarantees,” Putin told the commanders of his Army before accusing Washington of not being a reliable partner. “You and I know well that, even with legal guarantees, they cannot be believed because the United States easily withdraws from international agreements,” Putin said in reference to the Open Skies agreement, from which Washington withdrew in 2020, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, from which the White House moved away in 2002 to build a shield with which to protect itself from what it then called “rogue states”.
During the meeting, the Russian leader instructed his commanders to reinforce his troops with precision-guided weapons and ordered the expansion of military cooperation with the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, especially with Belarus. In fact, both nations have increased their joint military exercises in the last year, as a result of the massive protests against Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime after the fraudulent elections in 2020, and the migration crisis that the Belarusian authoritarian leader unleashed with Poland and the Baltic countries. .
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The key here is Ukraine, a country on which a hypothetical total Russian invasion would be planned, according to the US intelligence services. The country, which has suffered since 2014 a war in its eastern zone in which separatists are supported by the Kremlin, has seen the Russian Army reinforce itself along its border, with more than 110,000 military personnel, since the Black Sea to Belarus. “They (the United States) do what they want, but what they are doing now on Ukrainian territory, or what they plan to do, is not happening thousands of kilometers from our national borders, it is happening at our doorstep. They must understand that we have nowhere to retreat, ”Putin assured.
Shoigu has put more gasoline on the fire by accusing the White House of sending mercenaries to the Ukrainian front. “The presence of more than 120 members of the American contractor PMC in the communities of Avdiivka and Pryazovske, in the Donetsk region, is certain,” said the general. “They are equipping fire stations in residential buildings and communal facilities, and training special forces and radical groups,” he added before accusing the US Government of allegedly creating possible provocations that could relight the fuse of the war: “They have sent stocks of unidentified chemicals to the cities of Avdiivka and Krasny Lyman to carry out provocative acts. Shoigu has also accused the Ukrainian Army of carrying out an intense bombardment against the civilian population of the separatist Donbas area, whose population has received more than half a million Russian passports since the conflict broke out.
And beyond Ukraine, the Defense Ministry has also accused the United States of expanding its missile deployment in the Pacific and increasing the number of tests with strategic bombers, capable of launching a nuclear attack on Russia. In this tense situation, Shoigu has announced during the meeting with Putin that two major military exercises will be held next year, and broke down the new acquisitions of the Russian Army for 2022: five submarines, two nuclear bombers, 21 ballistic missile launchers and a thousand of battle tanks and artillery batteries, among other weapons.
This meeting also coincided with the delivery to the Navy of two new nuclear submarines, the Novosibirsk, Yasen class, and the Prince oleg, Boréi class, as well as with the test of a Kalibr missile launched from another diesel submarine in the Sea of Japan. Despite the economic crisis, the Kremlin has announced that the Defense Ministry will increase its budget for the next two years by about 180 billion rubles (about 2.1 billion euros).
After his intervention, Putin has held telephone conversations with the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and with the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in which the Russian leader has commented on his vision of the negotiations with the United States and proposed holding a new meeting under the Normandy Format (which includes Paris, Berlin, Washington and Kiev) to address the situation in Ukraine, in addition to “exchanging their good wishes before the Christmas and New Year holidays,” as the Kremlin reported in a release.
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