Putin hits back as NATO warns Moscow against attack on Ukraine – .

Putin hits back as NATO warns Moscow against attack on Ukraine – .

  • Western alarm grows over reinforcement of Russian troops
  • Putin: Moscow would not accept NATO missiles in Ukraine
  • NATO Alliance ministers meet in Latvia
  • Moscow denies any aggressive intention

RIGA / MOSCOW, Nov. 30 (Reuters) – Russia would pay a high price for any further military aggression against Ukraine, NATO and the United States warned on Tuesday as the Western military alliance met to discuss the motives possible from Moscow to muster troops near the Ukrainian border.

President Vladimir Putin countered that Russia would be forced to act if the US-led NATO placed missiles in Ukraine that could strike Moscow within minutes.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic now aspiring to join the European Union and NATO, has become the main hotspot between Russia and the West as relations have deteriorated to their worst level over the course of of the three decades since the end of the Cold War.

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“There will be a high price to pay for Russia if it again uses force against the independence of the Ukrainian nation,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Stoltenberg, saying: “Any escalation by Russia would be of great concern to the United States… and any further aggression would have grave consequences. “

Tensions have been mounting for weeks, with Russia, Ukraine and NATO all staging military exercises amid mutual recriminations on the aggressor’s side.

Putin has gone further than before in defining Russia’s “red lines” on Ukraine, saying it should react if NATO deploys advanced missile systems on its neighbor’s soil.

“If some kind of strike system appears on the territory of Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow will be 7-10 minutes, and five minutes in the case of a deployed hypersonic weapon. Imagine, ”said the head of the Kremlin.

“What should we do in such a scenario? We will then have to create something similar to those who threaten us in this way. And we can do it now, ”he said, pointing to recent tests by Russia of a hypersonic weapon. he said he could fly at nine times the speed of sound.

The EU and other Western leaders are involved in a geopolitical standoff with Russia to influence Ukraine and two other former Soviet republics, Moldova and Georgia, through trade, cooperation and protection.


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg poses with Foreign Ministers for a family photo during a NATO Foreign Ministers Summit in Riga, Latvia, November 30, 2021. REUTERS / Ints Kalnins

NATO foreign ministers have started two days of talks in the Latvian capital Riga to debate what they say is the growing Russian threat, with Blinken due to brief his 29 alliance counterparts on the assessment of the Washington intelligence.

Blinken, speaking at a press conference with his Latvian counterpart, said he would have more to say on Wednesday on how to respond to Russia after holding talks with NATO allies.

“We will be consulting closely … our allies and partners in the days to come … to see if there are any other steps we should take as an alliance to strengthen our defenses, strengthen our resilience, strengthen our capacities,” said he declared.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal has accused Russia of trying to overthrow the elected government in Kiev, which the Kremlin denies, after the Ukrainian president unveiled what he called an attempted coup last week. State.

Shmygal also said Ukraine would seek more weapons from the United States – precisely the course of action Putin warned against. Read more

The Kremlin annexed the Crimean Black Sea Peninsula to Ukraine in 2014, then supported rebels fighting government troops in the east of the country. This conflict has left 14,000 dead, according to Kiev, and is still brewing.

In May, Russian troops at Ukraine’s borders numbered 100,000, the highest number since its takeover of Crimea, according to Western officials. Ukraine says there are over 90,000 now.

Moscow has dismissed as inflammatory Ukrainian suggestions that it is preparing for an attack, said it is not threatening anyone and has defended its right to deploy troops in its own territory as it wishes.

Britain and Germany have echoed NATO’s warnings.

“We will stand alongside our fellow democracies against Russia’s malicious activities,” said British Foreign Minister Liz Truss.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “NATO’s support for Ukraine is unbroken… Russia should pay a high price for any kind of aggression.

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Additional reporting by John Chalmers in Brussels; written by Gabriela Baczynska, Robin Emmott and Mark Trevelyan; edited by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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