Vladimir Putin has threatened the West and Ukraine time and time again since the start of the war, whether through nuclear intimidation or warnings about Finland and Sweden joining NATO. But the Russian president’s latest comments are his strongest yet.
On Thursday, during a meeting with the heads of the State Duma party factions that was aired on state media television Russia-24, he warned of a long war, saying it will drag on until the “last Ukrainian is left standing.”
“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. Let them try,” Putin added, before concluding with the ominous statement that “everyone should know that we haven’t started anything serious yet.”
The Russian president has also been known to be hard to communicate with, often refusing dialogue with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In his recent speech, he issued a warning about peace talks, saying that “at the same time, we do not refuse peace talks either, but those who refuse should know that the further it goes, the more difficult it will be for them to come to an agreement with us."
Putin also blamed the West for “encouraging and justifying genocide against people in Donbas.” The eastern Donbas region has become the key area of Putin’s military ambition in Ukraine after his troops failed to take over the capital Kyiv.
Key Takeaways From A Ukraine-Dominated G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi
Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS
With the two-day summit of G20 foreign ministers currently underway in Bali, Indonesia’s foreign Retno Marsudi is urging her counterparts to find ways to end the war in Ukraine. Here’s the latest on the summit:
• U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed his Russian counterpart, demanding that Moscow allow grain shipments out of Ukraine.
• Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was absent when his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, spoke online Friday to the G20 diplomatic chiefs meeting.
• Lavrov also said on Friday that he “will not run” after Washington for talks with Antony Blinken, as he refused to meet with him on the sidelines of a G20 meeting. "It is not us who have abandoned contacts, it is the United States," Lavrov told reporters.
• Russia’s foreign minister has been strongly critical of the approach of Western countries to the G20 meeting in Indonesia, accusing them of derailing talks on the global economy and instead concentrating on calling Russia “aggressors”, “invaders” and “occupiers.”
•Russia-China relations seem to be getting stronger as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Russian counterpart in Bali on Thursday ahead of the G20 ministerial meeting.
• Prior to the G20 officially starting, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Beijing and Moscow "have eliminated interference, maintained normal exchanges." It said cooperation between the two sides has “demonstrated strong resilience and strategic determination."
• As they also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine, Wang said China will keep a fair position in order to focus on promoting peace and talks as well as support all efforts that are underway to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Ukrainian Troops Fight Back, More Shelling In Kharkiv
Russian shelling in the city of Mykolaiv
Ukrainian forces continue to target Russian military supplies and warehouses in the southern region of Kherson, according to regional officials. The pro-Russian authorities, which are now in control of Kherson, say that Ukrainian saboteurs have been detained. In recent days, Ukraine has increased attacks in both Donetsk and Kherson against Russian supply lines and storage spaces, trying to target Russian operations.
Meanwhile, more than 40 towns and villages in the Donbas region have received attacks in the last 24 hours, reported the Ukrainian military. They also acknowledged a “partial success” of a Russian attempt to advance on the fronts. The General Staff said the Russians were using artillery, mortars, multiple launch rocket systems and air strikes as they tried to eliminate Ukrainian defenses.
At least three people were killed and five others injured in a shelling of Kharkiv’s districts in northeastern Ukraine, according to a National Police official. A missile struck the center of Kramatorsk in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region on Thursday, according to a regional official. A Russian aircraft attacked Snake Island on Thursday, according to both the Russian Defense Ministry and the Ukrainian armed forces, shortly after Ukrainian troops raised the national flag there.
NASA Condemns Use Of The ISS As A Tool For Russian Propaganda
U.S. daily The Washington Post reports that NASA issued a rare statement in which it condemns the Russian space agency’s “use of the International Space Station (ISS) for political purposes, to support ‘Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.’”
This comes after Russian cosmonauts held the Luhansk flag in the ISS, celebrating Russia’s win in the eastern Ukrainian region. According to the Russian news agency TASS, the U.S. space agency believes that Russians are using the ISS as a tool for its war propaganda and that this “fundamentally contradicts the main purpose of the station, which is to promote science and develop technologies for peaceful purposes with the participation of 15 countries.”
Finland Votes To Strengthen Barriers On Russian Border
\u201cFinland Planning to Build Barriers Along Border with Russia for First Time\nThe forest-covered border zone currently is marked only with signs and plastic lines for most of the 810-mile length.\u201d— SW (@SW) 1654790012
Finland’s parliament voted in favor of amending its laws to build stronger barriers along the 1,300-kilometer border the country shares with Russia, as the Nordic nation continues the process of joining NATO. The bill will also enable the closure of the EU’s longest land border with Russia from asylum seekers, in case of exceptional circumstances.
“The war in Ukraine has contributed to the urgency of the issue,” said Anne Ihanus, an adviser in Finland's interior ministry. The border between the two countries is currently only secured by light wooden fences.
Donetsk And Luhansk Militias To Receive Same Benefits As Russian Military
Ukrainian Militia guard Kyiv
As part of his address to the State Duma, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke in favor of equating the status of militia in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) with that of the Russian military.
If implemented, the move would grant members of the militias in the two separatist regions the same social protection and combat veteran status as Russian soldiers. TASS notes that there are also plans to extend the benefits to border guards serving in the Belgorod, Kursk, Bryansk, Voronezh regions, to thank them for their participation in the “special operation.”
Earlier this week, both Putin and the Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement praising Russian forces and the Luhansk People’s Militia for their role in taking control of the city of Lysychansk and of the Luhansk area.
Zelensky Wants To See Biden In Ukraine
U.S. president Joe Biden on a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would like to see U.S. President Joe Biden in Ukraine, but understands that there are security issues that stand in the way, according to an interview with CNN. Zelensky said that Ukrainians trust and support the U.S., and that a visit from Biden “would help the Ukrainians.”
Zelensky has also said that he considers world leaders who have visited Ukraine to be friends, not just partners, in the face of Russia’s invasion. Because of this, Zelensky believes that Biden visiting Ukraine would send a message to Russia — and the world — that the U.S. believes in Ukrainian victory and is not afraid of Russia.
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