Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
Weapons sent to Ukraine by the West pose a threat to Russia, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with journalist Pavel Zarubin on the Rossiya-24 news channel on Saturday, informs TASS.
"Of course, there are threats. When arms are being sent to the country we have a conflict with, it is indeed a threat," Putin said when asked whether Western arms supplies to Ukraine jeopardize Russia.
"As for what their threats are to us, how we can assess them, we can surely see, hear and know about these plans of shipments," he said.
Additionally, the president pointed out that the amount of weapons sent to Ukraine is enormous. "It is a very substantial amount. It is a lot," he said, adding, "But… And what will go after this ‘but’ is crucial".
Russia has handed over to Belarus the Iskander missile system that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and on July 1 it will complete the construction of a storage for tactical nuclear weapons on the republic’s soil, Vladimir Putin said. "We have handed over to Belarus our well-known and very effective Iskander system that can carry [nuclear weapons]. On April 3, we will start training the crew and on July 1 we will complete the construction of a special storage for tactical nuclear weapons on the Belarusian territory."
Putin disagrees with West’s claims depleted uranium has no consequences. "The fact is that, of course, they are not defined as weapons of mass destruction".
Vladimir Putin has disagreed with British claims that depleted uranium munitions have no consequences. "Of course, it is not like that. The fact is that, of course, they are not defined as weapons of mass destruction. That’s true, but the core of a depleted uranium round (it can be made of different material, as it is used for armor-piercing purposes) still generates so-called radioactive dust and in this sense it certainly belongs to the most hazardous weapons," Putin said.
After those munitions bombarded Yugoslavia and Iraq, cancer rates surged among local citizens, the president recalled referring to expert data. When touching upon the potential use of depleted uranium munitions in Ukraine, Putin pointed out that those who hatch plots for using these weapons in that country should view the people living in the combat zone as their citizens: "How will they use them against people who are actually their own? I mean that these residues will dust, and among other things they will contaminate the crop areas in the regions where they will be used."
The president added that the issue of how it would affect Ukrainian rich black soil afterwards "requires a painstaking study on the part of those who initiate such steps that run counter to any normal logic and humanitarian law." "This weapon can be classified as the most harmful and hazardous for humans, not only for combatants or for participants in combat action, but also for the environment and for people living in that territory," he said.
"I must say that certainly Russia has something to respond. Without exaggeration, we have hundreds of thousands, namely hundreds of thousands of such shells. We are not using them now," the president said.
Ukraine uses nearly 5,000 shells per day, while the United States produces only 14,000-15,000 shells every month, Vladimir Putin said. "NATO’s leading countries, namely the US, according to the sources we have, produce some 14,000-15,000 shells of such caliber every month… Ukraine’s Armed Forces, according to our military data, use up to 5,000 shells per day during the combat actions."
Depleted uranium munitions remain the most dangerous weapons for humans and the natural environment due to radioactive dust, Vladimir Putin said. "This weapon can be classified as the most harmful and hazardous for humans, not only for combatants or for participants in combat action, but also for the environment and for people living in that territory."
Vladimir Putin agrees with the conclusions drawn by American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh that US special services were involved in the Nord Stream pipeline explosions. "The American journalist, who has become rather famous now worldwide, carried out such an investigation and as we know, drew a conclusion that blast on the gas pipelines was organized by the US special services. I fully agree with such conclusions."
Putin is confident that the truth about the explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines will eventually be uncovered. "I believe that it will be hard to attain this (the truth about the Nord Stream incident - TASS), but someday it will probably come out for sure what was done and how."
Western countries appear to have intentionally announced plans to send munitions, including depleted uranium rounds, to Kiev during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow, Vladimir Putin said. "On the same day that President Xi Jinping was telling me, showing me and arguing the positive aspects of China’s plan for the peaceful solution in Ukraine, on the same day we learned about the supply of a million shells to Ukraine by Western countries, by the warmongers of this conflict. The next day, right before the meeting with the press, we learned about that [news] story that the UK plans to send depleted uranium shells. It looks as if the Westerners did it deliberately so as either to derail our talks or to affect them, I do not even know why, but the impression is that they did it on purpose."
According to the Russian president, the talks with the Chinese leader focused on bilateral relations, and the economic area was the focus of attention. "China and Russia complement each other naturally; I mean the high pace of the Chinese economy and the need for energy resources. Of course, China, most importantly, needs the stability of such supplies and, of course, Russia can ensure such stability."
Putin added that the use of national currencies not only for mutual settlements, but also for settlements with third countries was also touched upon at the talks with his Chinese counterpart. "If we use the yuan when selling energy resources, and to third countries, this will be a very serious step. We are not going to rush anywhere in this regard, but we certainly talked a lot about it with our Chinese friend.".
Russia has something to respond to depleted uranium shells, it has hundreds of thousands of such munitions, but is not using them now, Vladimir Putin told Rossiya-24 TV channel. "I must say that certainly Russia has something to respond. Without exaggeration, we have hundreds of thousands, namely hundreds of thousands of such shells. We are not using them now."
Russia does not allow excessive militarization of the economy, President Vladimir Putin said. "We are building our economy in such a way that we do not allow excessive militarization, As for all our plans for [the development of] civil engineering, healthcare, education, infrastructure development, we are not cutting anything. Nothing! And they [the West] will have to cut [spending]."
Putin noted that the West is going to increase the production of weapons. "I think that if the United States is going to switch from 15,000[munitions] this year to 42,000 [munitions] next year, for others it will be even more difficult."
However, he noted that each Western country has its own rules, its own plans for the development of the armed forces, the national economy, infrastructure, education, healthcare, etc. "We will need to [develop] this in any way, but in specific NATO countries - that’s a question. But of course, this is their choice."
Russia, at the request of the Belarusian side, will deploy its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, just as the United States has been doing on the territories of its allies, Vladimir Putin said. "Even out of the context of these events, this statement (about the possible supply of depleted uranium shells by the UK to Ukraine - TASS), Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko has long raised the issue of deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus."
He stressed that "there is nothing unusual about this." "The United States has been doing this for decades. They placed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territories of their allied countries, NATO countries, in Europe a long time ago. In six states - these are the Federal Republic of Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Greece – well, in Greece there aren’t [tactical nuclear weapons] now, but there is a storage facility. And we agreed [with Belarus] that we will do the same. Without violating – I want to emphasize this – our international obligations on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons."
"We have already helped our Belarusian colleagues to reequip their planes. Ten planes are ready to apply this type of weapons. We have handed over to Belarus our well-known and very effective Iskander system that can carry [nuclear weapons]. On April 3, we will start training the crew and on July 1 we will complete the construction of a special storage for tactical nuclear weapons on the Belarusian territory," the President said.
"Thus, everything the President of Belarus asked about, all the issues he raised in this regard, they are being implemented, and all our agreements will be reached in the very near future," the Russian leader went on. But he stressed that Russia does not transfer such weapons to Belarus, just as the United States does not transfer them to its allies.
"We are actually doing everything that they have been doing for decades," Putin explained, noting that the Americans deploy these weapons, prepare carriers and train crews. We are going to do the same, this is exactly what Alexander Grigoryevich asked for." the Russian leader concluded.
"As for our negotiations with Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko… The reason (for the statements of the Belarusian leader - TASS) was the statement by the British Minister of State for Defense [Annabel Goldie] that they were going to supply shells with depleted uranium to Ukraine, which is somehow connected with nuclear technology."
The idea of creating a ‘global NATO’ with the participation of Asia-Pacific countries resembles the military alliance of the Axis powers of World War II times, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. He noted that the North Atlantic Alliance's new strategic concept explicitly says it plans to develop relations with Asia-Pacific countries and plans to create a global NATO.
"What is the United States doing? They are creating more and more alliances. And this gives grounds for Western analysts, Western political analysts to say just that the West is building new ‘axes’. <...> It is Western analysts, not us, who say that the West begins to build a new axis similar to the one that was created in the 1930s by fascist regimes in Germany, Italy and militaristic Japan," the president stressed.
Putin noted that the strategy directly lists concrete Asia-Pacific region countries, that is "New Zealand, Australia, and South Korea." "And, for example, earlier this year - in January, I think - the UK and Japan signed a reciprocal access agreement. That is, to establish contact and develop relations in the military sphere," the president stressed.
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