Putin warns – Russia will take action if NATO expands its military infrastructure in the Ukraine!

Fighters of the Donetsk People’s Republic in the Donbass

PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia will act if the US-led NATO military alliance crosses its red lines in Ukraine.

Speaking at an investment forum in Moscow, Putin said the expansion of NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine was a red line he hoped would not be crossed.

The president further said Moscow would view the deployment of certain offensive missile capabilities on Ukrainian soil as a trigger.

‘If some kind of strike systems appear on the territory of Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow will be 7-10 minutes, and five minutes in the case of a hypersonic weapon being deployed. Just imagine,’ Putin said.

‘What are we to do in such a scenario? We will have to then create something similar in relation to those who threaten us in that way. And we can do that now.’

Elsewhere in the speech on Tuesday, Putin praised Russia’s planned investment in expanded military education, hypersonic weapons, and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

He said Russia had just successfully tested a new sea-based hypersonic missile, which would be in service at the start of the new year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday accused NATO of deploying a significant amount of military hardware near Russia’s borders.

The top Russian diplomat said Moscow would respond to security threats from Western countries and Ukraine if necessary.

The developments came against the backdrop of Russia’s deteriorating relations with the United States and the European Union (EU). Earlier, the United States and Britain warned Russia over massing troops on the border with the former Soviet republic.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday Russia will pay a ‘high price’ if it uses force against Ukraine.

‘We have different options and we have demonstrated over the years, in reactions to Russia’s previous use of military force against Ukraine, that we can sustain heavy economic and financial sanctions, political sanctions,’ Stoltenberg said as he arrived for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Latvia.

Washington and its allies have already imposed sanctions on Russia over alleged cyberattacks, human rights violations, and activity near Ukraine.

An American political analyst says an unprovoked Russian attack on Ukraine is highly unlikely, adding that such accusations by the West ‘lack substance’ and are meant to pile up pressure on Moscow.

‘And also the fact that we have increased our presence here in the region, both in the Black Sea region but also in the Baltic region, in the air or land and at sea, is a direct reaction to the Russian military incursion into Ukraine, the illegal annexation of Crimea,’ the NATO chief said.

In his annual state-of-the-nation speech back in April, Putin had warned Russia’s rival powers against threatening his country, vowing a tough response to anyone who crossed Moscow’s red lines.

The Russian president’s speech came against the backdrop of tensions with the West.

The Kremlin has warned that the US and NATO are turning Ukraine into a ‘powder keg’ by increasing arms supplies to Kiev and inflaming tensions in the country’s volatile east, where government forces are fighting ethnic Russians.

Norway, a NATO member, has called on the US-led military alliance to stay away from its border area near Russia, saying the country’s own armed forces will take care of the strategic region.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said on Friday that Oslo wanted the planes and vessels from NATO allied countries to keep some distance from the country’s northernmost areas.

‘It is important for Norway to be militarily present in our immediate surroundings. But very close to the Russian border, we believe that we do it best ourselves, with Norwegian planes and Norwegian frigates. It is fundamental for us,’ she told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang.

Huitfeldt said that she sought dialogue with the United States and Britain about the presence of their vessels and aircraft in the border area.

‘It is in Norway’s interest to take care of these areas on its own, with the Norwegian defence,’ she added.

Norwegian analyst Tormod Heier also said that NATO military presence near the Norwegian-Russian border area did not necessarily increase the nation’s security.

‘Norway is becoming more exposed. At the same time, it is fully dependent on American assistance in case of a crisis situation,’ he told Norwegian news outlet High North News.

‘The USA considers Russia a strategic competitor. Norway does not consider Russia a strategic competitor, but rather as a legitimate and natural cooperation partner in the same area in which the Americans want to deter Russia,’ he said. ‘This means that Norwegian and American interests don’t always coincide.’

Russia’s ambassador to the US has criticised the West’s shipment of arms to Ukraine, saying the assumptions that Moscow would not respond to Kiev’s military moves in fear of NATO is a ‘very dangerous delusion’.

US military activities in Norway and its neighbourhood have increased over the past few years.

Concerns are recently growing over a possible military conflict near the Russian border, as the West accuses Moscow of planning a military invasion against Ukraine and increases military activities in the region to support Kiev.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that Russia plans to invade Ukraine and sees NATO support for the country as a threat on Russia’s western border.

Meanwhile, Russia has lambasted the United States for threats to confront Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) next month unless the Islamic Republic improves what Washington calls cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Russia’s ambassador to the IAEA Mikhail Ulyanov warned at a joint news conference with his Chinese counterpart on Friday that Washington’s threatening a diplomatic escalation would risk harming wider talks on Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The US on Thursday threatened that if Iran did not give way on at least one of several conflicts with the IAEA, particularly what it claimed to be Tehran’s refusal to allow the agency to reinstal cameras at a workshop after an attack in June, Washington would confront Tehran at the watchdog in December.

‘I don’t welcome this particular statement of the US delegation (at the IAEA). It’s not helpful,’ Ulyanov said on Friday.

‘The US did not negotiate with the Iranians for a very long time and forgot that Iranians don’t do anything under pressure. If they are under pressure, they resist,’ he further said.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says Iran and the IAEA have reached an agreement in principle to resolve their outstanding issues.

Despite repeated reports by the IAEA that certified Iran’s full compliance with the deal, former US president Donald Trump left the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the deal had lifted.

He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of his ‘maximum pressure’ campaign.

Following a year of strategic patience, Iran resorted to its legal rights under the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by other signatories, and let go of some of the restrictions imposed on its nuclear energy programme.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has said it is willing to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it has shown an overriding propensity for maintaining some of the sanctions as a tool of pressure.

Tehran insists that all sanctions must first be removed in a verifiable manner before it reverses its remedial measures.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warns that Washington’s ‘contradictory behaviour’ presents one of the obstacles in the Vienna talks aimed at putting the accord back on track.

Envoys from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries – Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany – are expected to hold the seventh round of discussions in Vienna today.