Moscow – President Vladimir Putin used some of his most blunt language on Tuesday in his growing clash with the United States and its European allies. The Russian leader has warned that unless the United States and NATO stop what Moscow sees as aggressive actions along the country’s border withRussia would respond in a “retaliatory military” manner.
“If the obviously aggressive line of our Western colleagues continues, we will take adequate military-technical measures of retaliation [and] react harshly to hostile measures,” Putin told senior military officials at a meeting in remarks broadcast by Russian state television. “I want to emphasize that we have every right to do so.
Putin has previously spoken of his “red lines” on Ukraine – foremost his demand that the United States block Ukraine’s bid to join NATO. He had previously accused the West of crossing its red lines, but the stern warning in Tuesday’s speech marked the first time he had personally warned against.
“They do whatever they want. But what they are doing now on the territory of Ukraine, or trying and planning to do, is not a thousand kilometers from our national border, it is at our door,” Putin said, lamenting that Russia had “nowhere to retreat.”
Speaking to CBS”On Monday, Moderator Margaret Brennan, Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine and warned that the United States and its allies stand ready to respond to with severe penalties. The Biden administration has not ruled anything out in the standoff, but has yet to explicitly say what level of assistance Ukraine might expect from Washington if Putin attacks.
US officials say they think Putin hasn’t made up his mind yet.
“We are very clear that Russia must not invade Ukraine’s sovereignty, that we must defend – and we defend – its territorial integrity,” Harris told Brennan. “We are working with our allies on this, and we have been very clear that we are ready to impose sanctions like you have never seen before.”
The vice president declined to say whether new sanctions would directly target Putin, but noted that the administration and U.S. allies were in “direct conversation” with the Kremlin and made clear their concerns and their own red lines.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Dr. Karen Donfried told reporters during a telephone press briefing from Brussels on Tuesday morning that the United States was ready to engage diplomatically through ” multiple channels”, including bilateral engagement with Russia, through talks with NATO. with Moscow and across other regional blocs.
Donfried said the bilateral engagement between the United States and Russia would likely take place “in January,” but offered no further details on where or between whom.
US intelligence agencies sounded the alarm bells weeks agonear its border with Ukraine, sparking fear in Western capitals of a possible repeat of Putin’s 2014 invasion, which saw him away from the small neighboring nation.
US officials say Russia has massed around 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, but Moscow dismisses all claims that it is preparing for an attack as “fake news”.
Last week, Russia sent an official letter,in the United States, including that NATO cease its eastward expansion and reject any membership application from any former Soviet country, including Ukraine. Many analysts have said the proposals are essentially a no-start, and the White House has made it clear that membership in the transatlantic defense alliance is up to nations and current members to decide, not Russia.
Following Putin’s recent video call with President Biden, the countries appointed task forces to meet and seek a way to ease the tension.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that relevant contacts were taking place and that the United States had said it was “ready” to engage in dialogue with Russia. But Putin stressed on Tuesday that he would only accept “long-term, legally binding guarantees” from the United States.
“You and I are well aware that even these, the legal safeguards, are not to be trusted, because the United States easily withdraws from all international agreements in which it loses interest for one reason or another while the explaining one way or another or giving no explanation,” Putin said. “Yet we need at least something, legally binding agreements, not just verbal assurances. We know well the value of such assurances, words and promises.”
Speaking at the same meeting, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the United States had “deployed some 8,000 troops” near Russia’s borders and, together with NATO allies, had organized frequent exercises in the vicinity of Russia using strategic bomber aircraft. He also shared plans for the Russian armed forces to increase by nearly 15,000 regular forces and hold two large-scale exercises next year.