Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday outlined what he said would justify “retaliatory strikes” against NATO members or other countries that intervened in Ukraine.
In an address to lawmakers, Putin said his forces would respond to any country that posed “a strategic threat” to Russia and its operations in Ukraine.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with state media that “NATO is essentially going to war with Russia through a proxy and arming that proxy.”
Before that, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said during an April 13 interview that Russia will consider U.S. and NATO vehicles transporting weapons on Ukrainian territory as “legitimate military targets.“
Putin’s latest comments made his stance even more clear.
“But I would also like to note something I spoke about at the beginning of the special military operation. Let me emphasize once again: If anyone intends to intervene from the outside and create a strategic threat to Russia that is unacceptable to us, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast,” Putin said.
He added, “We have the tools we need for this, the likes of which no one else can claim at this point. We will not just brag; we will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know this; we have made all the decisions on this matter.”
The Financial Times noted that Putin’s words about having “the tools we need for this, the likes of which no one else can claim at this point” could have been a reference to an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear payloads that Russia recently tested.
Putin also claimed Western entities had influenced Ukrainians into developing a state of “Russophobia.” He said this alleged anti-Russian sentiment, along with the influence of what he said were Neo-Nazis, had been passed onto “historical Russian territory” in Crimea and Donbas, which he said necessitated the Kremlin to take action.
The Russian president also claimed sanctions that were placed on Russia by other countries had failed to decimate the country’s economy. He said measures that were taken by his government had “repelled, blocked the very first crushing blow—as the West believed it to be—of the illegitimate sanctions against our country.”
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.