Putin warns Nato not to cross ‘red lines’ in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West not to cross Moscow’s “red lines” in Ukraine and said NATO was threatening Russia’s security by holding exercises and deploying weapons near its borders. this country.

Putin told an investment forum on Tuesday that Moscow has developed a hypersonic missile and will be forced to respond “if Nato continues to expand its infrastructure”, including the coalition’s deployment. potential similar missile systems.

“If some type of attack system appears on Ukrainian territory, the flight time to Moscow will be from 7 to 10 minutes, and 5 minutes in the case of deployed hypersonic weapons,” Putin said during a live conference. line on Tuesday.

“Then we will have to create something similar to those who threaten us. Can you imagine? And we can already do that now,” added Putin.

The United States has provided weapons to Ukraine and helped train its troops, but has not deployed forces or equipment in the way Putin suggested. However, the matter still irks Putin, who claimed without evidence last month that Nato could secretly set up bases and missile systems in Ukraine under the guise of a training program. .

Washington has shared intelligence with allies suggesting Russia may be preparing for return to full hostilities in Ukraine after mustering 114,000 troops to its north, east, and south.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said before a two-day meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Latvia that a Russian attack “would have serious consequences”, while British foreign secretary Liz Truss said his country she will use “all of our diplomatic and economic levers. to prevent Russian aggression.

However, Putin said Russia was forced to defend itself from what he described as NATO encroachment since the collapse of the Soviet Union, including the placement of missile systems in Poland and Romania that he thinks could be used to launch attacks on Moscow.

He also complained that Nato was conducting unplanned military exercises in the Black Sea this month, including strategic bombers that can fly nuclear weapons just 20 kilometers from the Russian border.

In response, a new Russian hypersonic missile will be put into service from the beginning of next year, Putin said. The missile, which can travel at nine times the speed of sound, was successfully tested this month, he added.

“Flight time will be five minutes for those who give orders [to attack Russia from Ukraine] Putin said. “We had to create something similar to use on people who threatened us in this way.”

America can deploy First hypersonic weapon next year, a Pentagon official said earlier this month.

Kyiv says US intelligence shows a “high probability” that Russia is preparing an invasion after relations with Ukraine’s president fell. Volodymyr Zelensky, and they are losing interest in the peace talks led by France and Germany.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine after a pro-Western revolution in 2014, then fueled a separatist insurgency in the eastern Donbas region, which has killed more than 14,000 people.

Moscow denies it is a party to the conflict but has provided troops, equipment and logistical support to the separatists, according to Western governments.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Tuesday suggested that Putin is engaged in the spirit to prevail in any negotiations with US President Joe Biden on Ukraine and other issues.

Russia embarked on a army building in April. Biden agreed to attend the summit to be held in Geneva in June, and Putin asked the military to refuse. But Russia left a significant number of troops and infrastructure near Ukraine and proceeded large-scale joint exercises with Belarus on the border.

“The question is not whether to send troops or not, or not to go to war, but rather. . . Mr. Putin said. “If we work in this direction, no one’s security will be threatened.”

Additional reporting by Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv

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