Image Source : REUTERS/FILE PHOTO Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with senior editors from international news agencies at the Lakhta Centre business tower in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he could deploy conventional missiles within striking distance of the United States and its European allies. This statement came amid concerns about Western countries providing Ukraine with long-range weapons that could reach deeper into Russia. In his first face-to-face meeting with senior editors of international news agencies since the onset of the Ukraine war, Putin warned the West against underestimating Russia’s willingness to use nuclear weapons, emphasising the seriousness of the Kremlin’s nuclear doctrine.

Escalation warning

Addressing NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg’s calls to allow Ukraine to use Western weapons to strike Russian territory, Putin warned that such actions would escalate tensions and draw the West closer to war with Russia. He indicated that Russia’s response would involve shooting down Western missiles, specifically mentioning U.S. ATACMS and British and French missile systems.

Potential missile deployment

Putin hinted at the possibility of deploying high-technology, long-range missiles close enough to strike states that permit Ukraine to target Russian territory. He stressed that such measures would be taken if these countries were perceived as being drawn into a war against Russia, warning of “very serious problems” without specifying potential missile deployment locations.

Nuclear risk

Long discussion at Gazprom Tower

Speaking for over three hours at the Gazprom Tower ahead of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin touched on various topics, including the war in Gaza and the upcoming U.S. elections. He accused the United States of prioritising its own interests over Ukraine’s and criticized the U.S. judicial system’s treatment of Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Nuclear doctrine clarification

Putin reiterated that Russia’s nuclear doctrine permits the use of nuclear weapons if the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are threatened. He cautioned the West against taking this doctrine lightly, emphasising that it could consider using all available means if necessary.

NATO attack?

Existential battle with the West

Putin framed the Ukraine conflict as an existential battle against a declining and decadent West, accusing Western powers of humiliating Russia post-1989 by encroaching on its sphere of influence, including Ukraine. He blamed the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Ukraine, which he described as a U.S.-backed coup, for the current conflict.

Western response

Western leaders and Ukraine have dismissed Russia’s warnings of a broader war but have consistently cautioned against the possibility of Russia attacking a NATO member. Both Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden have stated that a direct conflict between Russia and NATO could lead to World War Three.

Putin’s final remarks

“You should not make Russia out to be the enemy. You’re only hurting yourself with this, you know?” Putin remarked, dismissing the notion that Russia intended to attack NATO as “complete nonsense” and “total rubbish.”

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