Putin says Ukraine crisis threatens nuclear war

According to a documentary aired Sunday on Russian public television, featuring interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia prepared for nuclear war after last year’s pro-Western putsch on February 21-22 in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

After an all-night meeting with Russian security officials, Putin decided at dawn on February 23 to prepare the return of Crimea to Russia. Fearing that far-right Ukrainian nationalist militias would attack the largely ethnic Russian population of Crimea and the strategic Russian naval base at Sevastopol, Russia mobilized forces it stationed in Crimea, under the terms of Russia’s lease of the Sevastopol base.

The Crimean population ultimately voted to rejoin Russia, and pro-Kiev forces in Crimea did not resist and were allowed to escape Crimea unharmed. “We monitored the situation and had to bring in our equipment,” Putin said. “They would have been wiped out after the first salvo.”

According to Putin, however, as the Kremlin and the Russian military began their planning, they did not know whether NATO would react by going to war: “This could not be understood immediately, therefore at the first stage of work, I was accordingly forced to provide guidance to our Armed Forces. And not just provide guidance, but issue direct instructions, orders regarding the possible conduct of Russia and our armed forces given any development of events.”

Putin said he was ready for “the most adverse development of events.” As the interview makes clear, this referred to all-out nuclear war with NATO. The Kremlin prepared to arm its nuclear forces, Putin said: “We were prepared to do this. I was talking with Western colleagues and saying to them that [Crimea] is our historical territory, that Russian people live there, that they were in danger, and that we could not abandon them.” …


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The U.S. State Department hinted on Monday that sanctions against Russia have no end in sight.

A year after Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea on March 17, State spokesman Jen Psaki said there are no plans on lifting the sanctions that began because of the Kremlin land grab.

“We reaffirm that sanctions related to Crimea will remain in place as long as the occupation continues,” she said. “The United States continues to support Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and right to self-determination.” …




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