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Russia warns of 'possible consequences' if Ukraine uses Western-supplied weapons on its soil

Putin's warning came as Ukraine secured an agreement with Belgium for 30 F-16 jets, while the Netherlands has committed to providing Kyiv with a Patriot air defence system. Support for Ukraine has been slow from Western countries, leaving it to the mercy of better-equipped Russian forces.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Moscow Published on: May 29, 2024 11:05 IST
Russia, Vladimir Putin
Image Source : REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Moscow: After Ukraine received a second $1 billion promise of military aid on Tuesday during a whirlwind tour of three European Union countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the use of Western-supplied arms on its soil by Kyiv could set a dangerous new path and that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) should be ready for possible consequences. This came after Belgium committed to providing 30 F-16 jets to Ukraine in the next four years, while the Netherlands promised to quickly assemble a Patriot air defence system.

Russia's better-equipped forces have dominated the ongoing conflict that is unfolding in eastern and northeastern Ukraine, which is witnessing its biggest military test since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022. Slow deliveries of support by its Western partners, especially a lengthy delay in US military aid, have left Ukraine's underequipped troops at the mercy of Russia’s bigger army and air force.

Putin has repeatedly warned the West against deeper involvement in the fighting, holding out the possibility of a nuclear conflict and World War III. On Tuesday, the 71-year-old Russian President, who is embarking on a trip to Uzbekistan, said the use of Western-supplied long-range weapons by Kyiv on his territory would mark a dangerous escalation.

What will Kyiv receive from Europe?

Putin, who began his fifth term in office, has previously said that a deeper involvement of NATO in the ongoing Ukraine war would be a "step away from a full-scale World War III'. He told reporters on Tuesday that the use of Western arms would rely on Western intelligence data and imply the involvement of NATO military personnel, warning the alliance of possible consequences.

“Representatives of countries that are NATO members, particularly in Europe, should be aware of what they are playing with,” he said, adding that “countries with small territory and dense populations” should be particularly careful. Meanwhile, Portuguese Prime Minister Luis Montenegro said that his country is sending a further 126 million euros ($137 million) in military and financial aid to Kyiv as part of a broad cooperation plan.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a security agreement with Spain that allocates 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) of military aid to Ukraine in 2024, and 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) by 2027. The bilateral aid is essential since the 27-nation bloc is again struggling to overcome Hungary’s objections to the EU itself providing billions of euros in military aid to Kyiv.

Since Russia launched a spring offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region, Zelenskyy has insisted Ukraine urgently needs seven more U.S.-made Patriot air defence systems. Putin says the Kremlin’s forces are seeking to establish a “buffer zone” in Kharkiv to prevent Ukraine from launching attacks across the border there.

Russia-Ukraine peace talks

While Ukraine faces a shortage of weapons and ammunition as Russian forces continue to advance on the battlefield, Putin is reportedly prepared to halt the over three-year-long war with Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognises the current battlefield lines, according to sources, who said that the Kremlin leader will continue to fight on if Kyiv and Western countries do not respond.

According to three Russian sources familiar with Putin's plans, the 71-year-old leader had expressed frustration to a small group of advisers about what he views as Western-backed attempts to block negotiations and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's decision to rule out talks. Responding to Putin's remarks, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Russian President was trying to derail the Ukrainian-initiated peace summit in Switzerland by using his entourage to send out "phony signals" about his alleged readiness to halt the war.?

Ukraine has opposed any peace talks on Putin's terms, with Zelenskyy pledging to retake lost territory, including Crimea which was annexed in 2014. He signed a decree in 2022 that formally declared any talks with Putin "impossible." Kyiv says Putin, whose team repeatedly denied he was planning a war before invading Ukraine in 2022, cannot be trusted to honour any deal.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ |?India to participate in G-7, Ukraine peace summits, PM Modi confirms but creates suspense over his presence

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