Putin warns West against sending troops to Ukraine President Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW. – Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday warned Western countries against sending troops to Ukraine.

The consequences of such a decision would be “tragic”, he said.

In his annual state of the nation address, President Putin accused the West of trying to drag Russia into an arms race.

At the same time, he said that Russia needed to strengthen its defences on its western border now that Sweden and Finland were joining Nato.

President Putin said the West “provoked” the conflict in Ukraine and “continues to lie, without any embarrassment, saying that Russia allegedly intends to attack Europe”.

Probably referring to comments by French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this week that sending Nato ground troops to Ukraine “could not be excluded”, President Putin said: “The consequences for possible interventionists will be… tragic.”

“We also have weapons that can hit targets on their territory,” he added.

“All this really threatens a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons and the destruction of civilisation. Don’t they get that?”

Several Nato countries, including the US, Germany and the UK, ruled out deploying ground troops to Ukraine.

President Putin also boasted about Russia’s sophisticated weapons – like hypersonic aircraft and unmanned underwater vehicles – and said that Russia’s strategic nuclear forces are in a “state of full readiness”.

He said that an “absolute majority” of Russians supported his special operation in Ukraine, and that the Russian people were now united against what he called Western attempts to weaken the country.

He also hit out at accusations from the US that Russia is developing nuclear weapons for use against satellites in space.

The speech came just over two weeks before Russia’s presidential election, in which President Putin is widely expected to win a fifth term in office.

He also talked about the need to improve the health of the nation.

Urging people to focus on physical activity and cut down alcohol consumption, he joked: “Stop drinking and start skiing!” – BBc.com

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