‘There will be no winners, and you will be pulled into this conflict against your will,’
By – James Hockaday METRO NEWS
Vladimir Putin gave a chilling warning of nuclear war if Ukraine joins Nato and seeks to regain control of Crimea.
Russia remains in a diplomatic standoff with the West after amassing more than 100,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian border while ramping up military exercises.
The Kremlin continues to deny any plans to launch an invasion, instead pointing the finger at Nato for its expansion further east through Europe.
But Western leaders including Boris Johnsonhave said Ukraine has every right to form its own alliances without interference from Moscow.
New footage appears to show the deployment of ‘unstoppable’ new Kinzhal nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles in Kaliningrad – a Russian exclave bordering Poland and Lithuania
While Putin claimed his talks in Moscow with French President Emmanuel Macron were constructive, he used a joint press conference to warn of nuclear conflict if Ukraine joins Nato and then tries to regain Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
He said: ‘I want to stress it one more time. I’ve been saying it, but I’d very much want you to finally hear me, and to deliver it to your audience in print, TV and online.
Do you understand it or not, that if Ukraine joins Nato and attempts to bring Crimea back by military means, the European countries will be automatically pulled into a war conflict with Russia?’
Putin recognised Moscow’s military power is ‘incomparable’ with that of Nato, but warned his country is still ‘one of the leading nuclear states’.
‘There will be no winners, and you will be pulled into this conflict against your will,’ he added.
‘You won’t even have time to blink your eye when you execute Article 5 (collective defence of Nato members).
‘Mr President (Macron), of course, doesn’t want this, and I don’t want it, which is why he is here, torturing me for six straight hours.’
Putin said that for 30 years Russia had tried to persuade the West against a Nato eastward move. He claimed there was ‘just a complete disregard for our concerns, demands, and proposals’.
Putin used the familiar ‘ty’ form of ‘you’ to address Macron, seen as a sign of a good rapport between the leaders.
Meanwhile a new video shows one of two MiG-31K supersonic aircraft deployed in Russia’s westernmost territory of Kaliningrad.
The land is on the Baltic Sea coast, is less than 800 miles from the UK and is striking distance from Ukraine.
The warplane is reported to be deployed with the new ultra high speed Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles.
The 24-foot-long, one-ton Kinzhal – or Dagger – can carry conventional or nuclear warheads. It has a range of 1,250 miles and could pummel Ukrainian troops and defences without flying close to the country.
It appears that the MiG-31Ks capable of carrying the thousand-pound warheads were redeployed from Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow, to Chernyakhovsk air base in Kaliningrad region in recent days.
Russia is believed to have around 20 Kinzhal-compatible MiG-31Ks in total.
In the Black Sea, Russia’s hi-tech Ivan Khurs intelligence ship was seen just 20 nautical miles from Ukrainian naval port Odessa.
Russia has rejected the deployment of UN peacekeepers on the borders of rebel-held Donbas.
Senior diplomat and head of the Russian foreign ministry’s international organisations department, Pyotr Ilyichev, said: ‘No, there is no need. Peacekeepers will not resolve anything in the intra-Ukrainian conflict.
‘The Ukrainians need to talk to the LPR and DPR [the people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk].’
Russia has said that upcoming trips to Moscow by UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace are unlikely to improve relations.
Russian ambassador to London Andrei Klein said: ‘So far I am not at all under the impression that this could be a step towards a better relationship, and I am basing this on the statements being made by both Liz Truss and Ben Wallace.’