The Russian government is shouting from every rooftop that their strategic red lines are about to be crossed, and that they will respond unless the U.S. and NATO start negotiating seriously. Yesterday’s expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board served as the forum for extensive comments about this by both President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Putin also spoke by phone on Dec. 21 with India’s Narendra Modi, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, and France’s Emmanuel Macron, and hammered on the same point with each of them. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also had blunt comments on the matter.
These developments are being widely covered by live Russian TV broadcasts, while they are by and large blacked out in the West, whose population continues to live in the Valley of the Clueless as the world careens towards another Cuban Missile Crisis.
TASS reported that, after listening to Shoigu’s report to the Defense Ministry Board, Putin stated: “They [the U.S.] simply do what they want [in other parts of the world]. But what they are doing on the territory of Ukraine now, or trying to do and going to do — this is not thousands of kilometers away from our national border. This is at the doorstep of our home. They must understand that we simply have nowhere to retreat further.”
Putin went on: “The United States does not possess hypersonic weapons yet, but we know when they will have them…. They will put hypersonic weapons in Ukraine, and then, under their cover—that does not mean that they will start using them tomorrow, because we already have Zircon [hypersonic missiles] and they do not—they will arm and push extremists from the neighboring state against Russia, including into certain regions of the Russian Federation, for example, Crimea, when they think circumstances are favorable…. Do they think we don’t see these threats? Or do they think that we are so weak-willed to simply look blankly at the threats posed to Russia? That is the problem: we simply have nowhere to move further, that’s the question,” Putin said.
Sputnik further quoted Putin: “As I have already noted, in the event of the continuation of the obviously aggressive line of our Western colleagues, we will take adequate retaliatory military-technical measures, and react toughly to unfriendly steps. And, I want to emphasize, we have every right to do so, we have every right to take actions designed to ensure the security and sovereignty of Russia…. We are extremely concerned about the deployment of elements of the U.S. global missile defense system near Russia.”
Putin then carefully explained: "We already see that some of our detractors are interpreting them [Russia’s draft treaty documents] as Russia’s ultimatum. Is it an ultimatum or not? Of course not…. Armed conflicts and bloodshed are absolutely not our choice. We do not want to see events go that way. We want to use political and diplomatic means to resolve problems but we want to at least have clearly formulated legal guarantees. This is what our proposals are all about. We set them down on paper and sent them to Brussels and Washington, and we hope to receive a clear and comprehensive response to these proposals.
“There are certain signals that our partners appear to be willing to work on that. However, there is also a danger that they will attempt to drown our proposals in words, or in a swamp, in order to take advantage of this pause and do whatever they want to do.”