Lavrov responds to Macron: “Western troops are already in Ukraine”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, quoted by Tass, responds to French President Macron about the possible sending of NATO troops to Ukraine: His words are “a confirmation of the West's intention to send troops to Ukraine. Even if this is done unofficially, they are already there.”

“Without these Western trainers, Ukraine would not be able to use so-called long-range weapons against Russian cities,” Lavrov told a diplomatic forum in Antalya, Turkey. “We all completely understand that. There is ample evidence,” he added, arguing that “some Ukrainian attacks on Russia’s strategic airfields would not have happened without American specialists.”

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, meanwhile, says providing funding to Ukraine is crucial and stresses that NATO nations would have to fight Russia if Kiev loses the war. “We know that if Putin succeeds, he will not stop. He will continue to act more aggressively in the region. And other leaders around the world, other autocrats will be looking at this. And they are encouraged by the fact that this happened anyway.” “We are capable of supporting a democratic state,” Austin said in a speech to the US House of Representatives, quoted by Ukrainian media. “If you are a Baltic country, you are very worried about whether you will be next: you know Putin, you know what he is capable of. And frankly, I really believe that if Ukraine falls, NATO will go to war against Russia,” added the Pentagon chief.

Vladimir Putin is once again raising the specter of a nuclear conflict: a “real” threat, he said, due to the actions of NATO countries in the conflict in Ukraine. But Western countries, he warned, must remember that Moscow also has “weapons capable of reaching their territory.” The warning was issued by the Russian president in his annual State of the Union address to the assembled Houses, an event in which Putin showed confidence due to recent successes achieved by his troops on the ground, unlike just 12 months ago when fate seemed to be in his favour to turn Kiev.

However, Putin sought to reiterate that Russia has no intention of attacking countries in the Atlantic Alliance, calling the alarms coming from Europe “nonsense.” Just as he rejected Washington's accusations of wanting to station nuclear weapons in space as “false”. “This is just a ploy to drag us into negotiations on their terms, which only benefits the US,” he said. But in front of the elite of Russian power – from the government to the military leaders to the governor of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina – the Kremlin chief wanted to personally respond to French President Emmanuel Macron, who had spoken in recent days about the possibility of sending Western troops into the to send to Ukraine. “We remember – said Putin – the fate of those who sent their contingents to the territory of our country in the past. Now the consequences will be much more tragic for all interventionists.”

“Everything the West is planning actually leads to the danger of a conflict with nuclear weapons and thus the destruction of civilization,” Putin commented. The Russian leader then accused the West of wanting to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia. But one topic was conspicuous by its complete absence in the more than two hours of his speech, which was punctuated by 80 rounds of applause: Transnistria, the secessionist entity in Moldovan territory whose authorities yesterday asked for Moscow's help against those they denounced as economic leaders . Pressure” from Chisinau. Apparently not a “priority” for the president, contrary to what the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Putin praised his forces' successes in Ukraine and said they would not back down (“They will not back down, they will not fail, they will not betray,” were his words). However, most of his speech was devoted to interventions in the economic sector, as part of a six-year strategic development program that envisages profound changes in the industrial and social spheres. He announced that Russia must set itself the goal of becoming “one of the four largest economies in the world.” The means to achieve this goal include doubling investment in scientific research to 2% of GDP, increasing investment in key industries by 70%, strengthening the production of consumer goods and increasing two-thirds of exports other than energy resources and raw materials .

Two weeks before elections in which he will run for a fifth term, Putin has his eye on the population, promising to double the minimum wage by 2030 (the equivalent of $390) and provide tax breaks. Finally, the president announced a comprehensive health care plan with the goal of increasing average life expectancy from the current 73 to 78 years and then bringing it to “over 80.” Other projects presented deal with reducing the economic gap between different regions of Russia and environmental protection measures.

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