Updated May 29th, 2024 at 10:12 IST

'Constant Escalation Can Lead to...': Putin Warns West Against Proving Military Aid to Ukraine

"Constant escalation can lead to serious consequences," Putin told reporters in Tashkent.

Reported by: Thomson Reuters
'Constant Escalation Can Lead to...': Putin Warns West Against Proving Military Aid to Ukraine | Image:(Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Tuesday that NATO members in Europe were playing with fire by proposing to let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike deep inside Russia, which he said could trigger a global conflict.

More than two years into the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two, Putin has increasingly spoken of the risk of a much broader global conflict as the West grapples with what to do about the advance of Russian troops in Ukraine.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told The Economist that alliance members should let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons, a view supported by some NATO members but not by the United States.

"Constant escalation can lead to serious consequences," Putin told reporters in Tashkent. "If these serious consequences occur in Europe, how will the United States behave, bearing in mind our parity in the field of strategic weapons?"

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"It's hard to say - do they want a global conflict?"

Putin said Ukrainian strikes on Russia with long-range weapons would need Western satellite, intelligence and military help - so the West would be directly involved. He said sending French troops to Ukraine would be a step towards a global conflict.

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Speaking of NATO members in Europe, Putin said that small countries there "should be aware of what they are playing with", as they had small land areas and very dense populations.

"This is a factor that they should keep in mind before talking about striking deep into Russian territory," Putin said.

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Russian Advances Trigger Debate in West

Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine touched off the worst breakdown in relations with the West for 60 years, and the crisis is escalating into what diplomats say is its most dangerous phase to date.

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The invasion has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, driven millions to flee abroad, and reduced neighbourhoods and whole cities to rubble.

Russia, which controls 18% of Ukraine, is advancing and has opened a new front in the Kharkiv region, triggering a debate in the West about what else it can do after giving Kyiv hundreds of billions of dollars in aid, weapons and intelligence.

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Western leaders and Ukraine have played down Russia's warnings about the risk of a broader war involving Russia, the world's biggest nuclear power, and NATO, the world's most powerful military alliance led by the United States.

Ukraine says it should be able to hit behind Russian lines, including against Russian sovereign territory, to fight back.

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But Russian officials say Moscow's patience is wearing thin after repeated Ukrainian attacks on Russian cities, oil refineries, and, in recent days, even against elements of its nuclear early warning system.

Asked by Russian state television about the legitimacy of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Putin said the only legitimate authority in Ukraine now was parliament, and that its head should be given power.

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Zelenskiy has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term due to martial law which was imposed after the invasion. 

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Published May 29th, 2024 at 10:12 IST