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“We don’t need a nuclear strike on Ukraine”: Vladimir Putin

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President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the United States and Europe for his conflict in Ukraine, praised Saudi Arabia, and restated backing for China’s claim to Taiwan as he attempted to portray Russia as a defender of traditional values against Western liberalism.

At the Kremlin’s Valdai debate club of foreign policy specialists outside of Moscow on Thursday, Putin accused the US and its allies of pursuing world dominion by flooding Ukraine with weaponry to aid in its defense against Russia’s invasion. He vehemently denied wanting to use nukes in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin said, “We don’t need a nuclear attack on Ukraine,” stating that Russia has given “hints” in response to US and European concerns about a potential nuclear exchange. “Neither a political nor a military purpose exists.”

As Moscow’s sputtering war enters its ninth month, its forces are retreating from the territory that President Putin annexed as “forever” part of Russia last month, prompting recent warnings from Kremlin officials, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, about the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

According to US and European defense officials, Russian Military Minister Sergei Shoigu’s assertion that Ukraine may deploy a so-called “dirty bomb” may be a sign that the Kremlin is preparing for such an operation. 

READ MORE: ‘West’s undivided dominance’ will end in the most dangerous decade since WWII: Vladimir Putin

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden threatened Russia, saying that using nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be a “hazardous mistake.”

Given that the US and its allies have pressed for him to be excluded due to the invasion, President Putin said that he has yet to decide to attend the Group of 20 meeting in Indonesia next month. 

He responded to a query from Indonesia by saying, “Russia will undoubtedly be represented at a high level.” I may still go.

Vladimir Putin said that in contrast to liberal viewpoints on issues like same-sex couples, Russia stands for “multipolarity” and “traditional values” in a meandering speech and debate that lasted more than 3.5 hours. 

He said that Americans who share such conservative ideals supported Russia. He said that the age of American dominance was ending and accused the US and European leaders of being haughty while insisting that Russia wasn’t the West’s adversary.

The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was praised by the Russian leader, who came across as at ease and assured, as “a young man, resolute, with character,” adding that he deserved “respect” for maintaining a balanced stance on the oil market in line with his country’s national interests despite US criticism. 

If Riyadh decided to join, Russia would back its inclusion in the BRICS club, including South Africa, Brazil, India, and China.

Vladimir Putin said that when the two leaders met in Beijing only weeks before the start of the conflict in February, he did not inform Xi Jinping of his plan to invade Ukraine. 

He referred to previous US official trips to Taiwan as “provocations.” He said that despite escalating tensions with Washington over the issue, Russia still firmly supports Beijing’s claim to the democratically run island.

Invasion Goals

Even if Russian forces have recently lost many battles against Ukrainian forces, President Putin said that his “special military operation” still aimed to ensure the safety of Kremlin-backed rebels in the eastern Donbas area. 

He did not refer to the broad objectives of “de-Nazification” and “de-militarization” that he had stated at the beginning of the invasion when Russia had been unable to conquer Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, quickly.

President Putin did not explain the odd absence, whose public declarations of his military objectives have changed in the months since he sent troops. Instead, he claimed that the surrounding Ukrainian territories that Russia illegitimately acquired last month were a component of the former “Novorossiya” territory.

Fyodor Lukyanov, the event’s presenter, and a foreign policy commentator asked him how society “doesn’t fully comprehend what the strategy is” his answer was.

The independent Levada Center revealed a survey while President Vladimir Putin was speaking, indicating that most Russians now favor peace negotiations over a continuation of the invasion for the first time.

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