Western leaders hopefully have “enough intelligence” to avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia, Vladimir Putin said
Putting NATO troops into direct contact with the Russian army would be a foolish step that could lead to “global catastrophe,” Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Friday, following the Central Asia-Russia summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Asked whether NATO might send troops into Ukraine if the country was close to defeat in its conflict with Russia, Putin said this would be a “dangerous step that could lead to a global catastrophe.”
“I hope that those who speak about this will have enough intelligence to prevent such a dangerous step from happening,” he said.
The Russian leader also said it was necessary to understand what one means by the word “defeat” in the context of the Ukraine crisis.
“Everyone can understand this differently,” he said, explaining that some may already see the fact that Crimea voted to become part of Russia in 2014 as a defeat for Ukraine. “We need to understand what is meant [by defeat],” he added.
The West has funneled tens of billions of dollars in financial and military assistance to Ukraine since the conflict began in February, with the US in particular vowing to back Kiev for “as long as it takes” to defeat Moscow’s troops.
At the same time, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly said that the US-led bloc is “not a party to the conflict” in Ukraine. He admitted this week, however, that a Russian victory would be regarded as a “defeat” for the whole Western alliance and acknowledged that NATO had been providing “unprecedented support” to Kiev to avoid such a scenario.
Stoltenberg’s comments amounted to “an open confirmation of NATO’s participation in the war,” former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky again this week demanded tens of billions of dollars from the IMF and the World Bank and pleaded with the West for the delivery of more anti-aircraft weapons to continue its fight against Russia.
Moscow has long warned the West against sending arms to Kiev, saying it will only prolong the fighting and increase the risk of direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.