“Let West try to defeat us on battlefield… we haven’t started anything seriously yet”: Putin in fiercest warning since invasion

During a Thursday speech addressing Russian parliament officials, President Vladimir Putin warned that the military has barely started its operations in Ukraine – suggesting he sees a long haul fight possibly for the whole of Ukraine ahead – in a direct challenge to the West as it continues to send arms to Kiev.

It’s being widely viewed as one of the fiercest speeches and challenges issued to Western backers of Ukraine since he authorized the Feb.24 invasion. He said that “the West wants to fight us until the last Ukrainian” – which he called a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, before adding, “It looks like it’s heading in that direction,” and then put the world on notice that Russia “by and large hasn’t started anything seriously yet.”

“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. Well, what can you say here? Let them try,” Putin said, in a direct challenge to the US and NATO, though without naming them specifically.

“At the same time, we don’t reject peace talks. But those who reject them should know that the further it goes, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us,” he added.

Other translations of the speech quoted Putin as saying Russia’s military hasn’t started anything “in earnest yet”. He charged that it was the West that started hostilities through the war in Donbas – ongoing since 2014. Putin further reiterated a prior theme he’s spoken about of witnessing the birth of a multi-polar world due to Russia’s resistance to NATO hegemony, according his words cited in The Moscow Times.

He also seemed to aim comments at the domestic populations of the West, and hinted at the resistance of BRICS countries to “totalitarian liberalism”

Given that this week the Pentagon has said it will introduce further advanced and longer range weapons systems into Ukraine’s arsenal, the Russia-NATO game of chicken looks to continue dangerously into the indefinite future. Statements from US, UK, and EU officials have meanwhile continued calling for domestic populations to “sacrifice”. 

Biden said last week that this will go on “for as long as it takes”

As for the next big air defense systems headed to Ukraine after the earlier deployment of the HIMARS systems, Al Jazeera describes in a fresh update, based on Pentagon statements:

The US Pentagon says it will supply Ukraine with two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems and four Raytheon AN/TPQ-37anti-artillery radar systems, introducing two new advanced weapons systems into Ukraine’s arsenal.

Putin’s rhetoric as well as that of his top national security officials has grown bolder especially coming off Russian forces capturing all of Luhansk province, following Ukraine’s retreat from Lysychansk city. Russian troops and their Ukrainian separatist allies are now expected to push to liberate all of the Donbas, with a siege against against the strategically located Kramatorsk city having begun this week.


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