Sanctions on Russia amount to declaration of War: Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin underlined that his country's operation in Ukraine had many reasons, reiterating NATO's eastward expansion.
The wave of sanctions the West has been imposing on Russia as a consequence of its military operation in Ukraine is comparable with a declaration of war, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.
"These sanctions that are being imposed, they are akin to a declaration of war," Putin said at a meeting with female flight crews of Russian airlines.
Addressing NATO's aspirations to expand eastward through Ukraine's accession, Putin highlighted that if Kiev was a NATO member, it would be encouraged to invade Crimea, and its alliance allies would have no choice but support it.
"If this [Ukraine] was a NATO country, in accordance with that organization's founding treaty all other members of the alliance would have to support this country in an armed conflict," Putin told the meeting, declaring that "[Ukraine] would push into Crimea the same way [as in Donbass]."
The Ukrainian invasion of Donbass, according to Putin, would force Russia's hand into fighting with the entire alliance.
The West has been neglecting deaths in Donbass for eight years, Putin said, since the Kiev authorities started their aggression against the eastern region.
"13,000 to 14,000 people have been killed during these years. Over 500 children have been killed or maimed. But what is especially unbearable is that the so-called civilized West has been preferring not to notice that all these years. Well, listen, [it has been] eight years," Putin said.
Ukraine demilitarization on agenda
The framework of negotiations between Moscow and Kiev includes multiple options for the demilitarization of Ukraine, and Russia hopes for Kiev to respond positively, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
In a similar vein to demilitarization, the Russian leader recalled Soviet-Ukrainian nuclear competencies, which gives Kiev the capacity of developing missiles aided by overseas actors, which would alter Russia's fate.
"Now they are talking about acquiring nuclear status. In other words, about acquiring nuclear weapons. We cannot get past things like that. Especially since we know how this so-called West treats Russia," Putin stressed.
"Ukraine has been having nuclear potential since the Soviet times [...] As for the enrichment of nuclear materials, they will be able to organize this work. They have the missile potential," he added.
He explained that Kiev would build missiles with aid from their allies and they would later refuse to recognize the nuclear status and say they did it themselves, "And they will put these complexes under their control."
With Ukraine acquiring such arms, Russia's "adversaries" would not need ICBMs, "They will keep us in the nuclear crosshair right here. How can we get past things like that? This is not some far-fetched nonsense, it is an absolutely real threat," the president said.
Ukrainian military infrastructure nearly completely demolished
As the Russian military operation progresses in Ukraine, Putin revealed that his army has nearly completed the demolition of Kiev's military infrastructure.
"The first thing they did was the destruction of the entire military infrastructure. Well, not all, but partially, mainly warehouses with weapons, ammunition, aviation, air defense systems," he affirmed.
He also revealed that only professional servicemen were participating in the Russian operation, not conscripts, and the Kremlin has no plans on involving them in the operation.
Deterrence forces on alert due to London words on NATO involvement
No one made any follow-up statements regarding UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss' remarks about the possible involvement of NATO in Ukraine, President Putin said, which prompted Moscow to put its deterrence forces on high alert.