Putin warns NATO further interference in Ukraine will lead to nuclear war

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday during his annual speech to the nation that the West could face nuclear conflict if it intervened further in the war in Ukraine.

After discussions of the United States and Europe sending troops from NATO countries to fight with Ukraine, Putin said that they “must, in the end, understand” that “all this truly threatens a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons, and therefore the destruction of civilization.”

“We also have weapons that can strike targets on their territory,” he said. “Do they not understand this?”

“We remember the fate of those who once sent their contingents to the territory of our country,” Putin said, which the New York Times reports as an apparent reference to the invasions of Hitler and Napoleon. “But now the consequences for potential interventionists will be much more tragic.”

He said that “Russia is ready for a dialogue with the United States on matters of strategic stability,” a reference to arms-control discussions with the US that had taken place before the war.

While many Western leaders have rejected the idea of involvement, French President Emmanuel Macron's comments this week about the possibility of sending troops from NATO countries to Ukraine fueled the Russian leader's response.

Putin has made repeated nuclear threats over the past few years since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, warning the West to not get involved. After a brief period of lessened hostility, Putin once again amped up his warnings during his annual state-of-the-nation speech.

The highly anticipated Kremlin event, during which the Russian president addresses his priorities to hundreds of officials and Russia's ruling elite, was particularly significant this year. Putin will be running for re-election March 15-17 for another 6-year term.

Turning his attention to Ukraine, Putin declared, "This must, naturally, be done only as a single complex, including all those aspects that affect the security of our country.”

US officials have vehemently stated that they have not and will not negotiate with Russia on behalf of Ukraine.

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