During discussions with top defence officials, the President affirms that Moscow’s strategic forces are being maintained at the utmost level of preparedness.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Moscow is enhancing its nuclear arsenal and maintaining its strategic forces at the highest level of preparedness, attributing these measures to what he perceives as the West conducting a “hybrid war” against Russia. During a conference with senior defence officials on Tuesday, Putin asserted that Moscow would persist in what it terms its “special military operation” in Ukraine, emphasising the failure of any attempts to impose a strategic defeat on Russia.
Accusing the United States of exploiting Europe for its own interests, Putin clarified that Russia does not have intentions of waging war on Europe. While expressing a willingness to engage in discussions regarding the future of Ukraine with Ukraine, the U.S., and Europe, Putin asserted that such dialogues would be conducted in alignment with the Russian national interests, steadfastly refusing to relinquish what he deems as rightful possessions of Russia.
Putin emphasised that Russia would shape its approach to Ukraine based on its own interests, disregarding any attempts by Kyiv to forge agreements. Last week, he reiterated that the objectives of Russia in Ukraine remain unchanged, and peace will not be achieved until they are realised. Categorically stating that Ukraine’s membership in the NATO military alliance is unacceptable for Russia in the next 10 to 20 years, Putin underscored the insistence of Russia on the “denazification, demilitarisation, and a neutral status” of Ukraine, a demand reiterated since the invasion in February 2022.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu disclosed at the same meeting that Russia has significantly increased tank production by 5.6 times since the commencement of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Additionally, Russia has laid 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 square miles) of minefields along the 2,000 km (1,250-mile) front line. Moscow continues to assert its demand for the “denazification, demilitarisation, and a neutral status” of Ukraine, consistently maintaining that the Ukrainian government is influenced by “radical nationalist” and neo-Nazi groups, a claim disputed by Kyiv and the West.
In the context of the upcoming March 2024 presidential election, Putin declared his candidacy, virtually ensuring a fifth term for the 71-year-old leader. Having been in power for 24 years, including a prime ministerial stint, a victory in the upcoming election would extend the presidency of Putn until 2030.
By Sara Hamrani