Putin Raises Alarm Over Potential Nuclear Conflict with NATO's Presence in Ukraine

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During his state-of-the-nation address on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin cautioned NATO countries about the risk of nuclear conflict due to deploying troops to Ukraine. He stressed Russia's need to strengthen its western military district following Finland and Sweden's admission into the Atlantic alliance.

Putin asserted Russia's intolerance towards any interference in its internal affairs during his annual address to the Russian parliament. Referring to French President Emmanuel Macron's recent statement about potential Western ground troop deployment to Ukraine, Putin warned of "tragic" consequences for any countries considering such action.

According to Putin, the vast majority of Russians support the 'special military operation.' He stated, "The combat capabilities of the armed forces have significantly increased. Our units maintain firm initiative and make confident advances in various operational directions, liberating new territories."

His annual address to Russia's Parliament precedes the upcoming election, where he is widely expected to secure victory comfortably. Putin, who has held power as either president or prime minister for over two decades, has announced his intention to seek another six-year term in the March elections, where his victory is anticipated.

On the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Putin remarked, "As our homeland defends its sovereignty, security, and the lives of our compatriots in Donbas and Novorossiya (regions of Ukraine claimed by Russia), the decisive role in this just struggle belongs to our citizens, our unity, devotion to our motherland, and responsibility for its destiny."

"These qualities were clearly and unambiguously manifested at the very beginning of the special military operation when it was supported by the absolute majority of the Russian people. Despite all the trials and bitterness of losses, people are adamant in this choice," he added, as per Reuters.

On dialogue with the US, Putin stated that Russia is ready for dialogue on issues of strategic stability but rejected negotiations on strategic stability with the US in isolation from Russian national security issues.

"Recently, there have been more and more unsubstantiated accusations against Russia, for example, that we are allegedly going to deploy nuclear weapons in space. Such innuendo, which is nothing but innuendo, is a ploy to draw us into negotiations on their own terms, which are favorable only to the United States," he said.

"Therefore, we have every reason to believe that the words of today's American authorities about their alleged interest in negotiations with us on strategic stability issues are demagoguery… On the eve of the US presidential election, they simply want to show their citizens and everyone else that they still rule the world."

On the arms race, Putin reiterated his claim that the West was trying to weaken Russia from within. He also said the United States was trying to inflict strategic defeat on Moscow. "We understand that the West is trying to drag us into an arms race. They are trying to wear us down, to repeat the trick they succeeded (in pulling off) with the Soviet Union in the 1980s," Putin said.

"Therefore, our task is to develop the defense-industrial complex in such a way as to increase the scientific, technological, and industrial potential of the country. We need to distribute resources as rationally as possible and build an efficient economy of the armed forces, to achieve the maximum for every ruble of defense expenditures," he added.

Regarding missiles, Putin declared that the strategic nuclear forces are "in a state of full readiness for guaranteed use." He further stated: "The hypersonic dagger aircraft system has not only been deployed but is also being utilized with high efficiency to target particularly important objectives during the special military operation."

"The hypersonic sea-based complex Zircon has also already seen action. The hypersonic units of the intercontinental Avangard range, as well as the laser systems Peresvet, are on active duty. Final tests for the Burevestnik unlimited-range cruise missile are underway. Additionally, the unmanned underwater vehicle Poseidon... The first mass-produced Sarmat heavy ballistic missiles have been delivered to the troops," he added in his address.

On Russian national unity, President Putin praised Russian national unity ahead of next month’s election. Speaking to lawmakers and top officials, Putin asserted that Russia was "defending its sovereignty and security and protecting our compatriots" in Ukraine. He honored Russian soldiers and paid tribute to those who lost their lives in combat with a moment of silence.

Measures to support larger families: Putin suggested increased child benefits and other measures to support large families. "Over the next six years, we must achieve sustainable growth in the birth rate. The family mortgage program in Russia will be extended until 2030 while maintaining its core parameters," he stated.

According to Putin, "having a large family with many children should become the norm in Russia." Russia's persistently low birth rate has presented demographic challenges for the Russian authorities for many years, according to Reuters.

‘Russian economy outpaced G7 states’: Putin highlighted that the Russian economy surpassed the global average and exceeded the growth seen in G7 states last year. He expressed confidence that Russia will become "one of the four largest economies in the world in the near future." "The growth of the Russian economy should translate into an increase in the population's income," Putin concluded.