Russia ‘to consider’ providing weapons to strike Western targets, Putin says — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Russia ‘to consider’ providing weapons to strike Western targets, Putin says

Russian policemen guard in front of Russian missile S-400 Triumf weapons standing on Tverskaya street in Moscow, Russia, 27 April 2023. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Russian policemen guard in front of Russian missile S-400 Triumf weapons standing on Tverskaya street in Moscow, Russia, 27 April 2023. Photo: EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Russia is “to consider” supplying weapons to its allies in response to NATO leaders giving Ukraine the go-ahead to use Western-supplied weapons to attack targets within Russia, Vladimir Putin told foreign journalists at a press conference marking the opening of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Wednesday.

Speaking at his first international press conference since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Putin excoriated NATO member states for approving Ukrainian strikes on military targets within Russia, saying it represented their “direct participation” in the war and that Russia would “reserve the right to act the same way”.

“If they consider it possible to deliver such weapons to the combat zone to strike our territory and create problems for us, then why don’t we have the right to supply our weapons of the same class to regions of the world from which strikes can be launched on sensitive targets in countries that are attacking Russia?” Putin asked.

At the same time, Putin dismissed claims that Russia planned to attack NATO as “complete nonsense”, saying that Russia had “no imperial ambitions” and accusing Western leaders of using such claims to “fool their population and maintain their own imperial status and grandeur”.

When pressed on why Russia had not provided official figures for its losses in Ukraine, Putin declined to give a precise number for Russian military casualties, but did claim that around 50,000 Ukrainian troops were being killed or wounded every month and that approximately “five times” more Ukrainian soldiers had been killed than Russian soldiers since the start of the invasion.

Putin added that Russia was currently holding some 6,465 Ukrainian prisoners of war, compared to 1,348 Russian soldiers being held prisoner in Ukraine, following the latest UAE-brokered prisoner exchange between the two countries on Friday.

Estimates of the number of troops killed and wounded on both sides vary greatly, with neither Russia nor Ukraine providing regular death tolls or injury figures. Ukraine claims that over 515,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded since the start of the full-scale invasion, while Russia’s Defence Ministry alleged in April that the number of Ukraine’s dead and wounded over the same period totalled almost “half a million” troops.

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