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Putin recognizes a “long” conflict and relativizes the use of nuclear weapons

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Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged on Wednesday that the conflict in Ukraine was “long” and downplayed the risk of resorting to nuclear weapons. “We have not gone mad, we know what nuclear weapons are,” said Vladimir Putin, speaking by videoconference before his Human Rights Council, an organization entirely subject to the Kremlin.

After several threats to use them having emanated from Russian officials in recent months, he stressed that these weapons were “a means of defense”, that they were intended for a “retaliatory strike”. In other words, “if we are hit, we hit in response”, hammered the Russian head of state.

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Nevertheless, “the threat of a nuclear war is growing”, in view of the Russian-Western confrontation around Ukraine, he noted, blaming this situation on the Americans and the Europeans. “Any talk lightly about nuclear weapons is absolutely irresponsible,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price a few hours later.

For German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the international community “has drawn a red line” for Russia and has helped to reduce the risk of Moscow resorting to nuclear weapons in Ukraine. “One thing has changed for now: Russia has stopped threatening to use nuclear weapons,” the chancellor said in an interview with German media group Funke and French regional daily Ouest-France to be published on Thursday.

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The main information:

– After several threats to use nuclear weapons, Russian President Vladimir Putin qualified his speech: “We have not gone mad, we know what nuclear weapons are”, he declared during a meeting before its Human Rights Council, an organization entirely subject to the Kremlin.

– The Russian president judged that “the appearance of new territories” was a “significant result for Russia”. “The Sea of ​​Azov has become an inland sea, it’s a serious thing,” he proclaimed, referring to this maritime area which borders part of southwestern Russia and southeastern Ukraine, of which Moscow now controls the entire shore.

– On the front, the bombardments continued on Wednesday with in particular ten people killed, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a Russian strike on the city of Kurakhové, near Donetsk, in the East, where the essential is currently concentrated fights.

“A long process”

Vladimir Putin, on this occasion, once again justified the offensive he launched more than nine months ago. Although, “of course, it’s a long process,” he acknowledged. The “special military operation” launched on February 24 was supposed to end in a flash Russian victory, but the Ukrainian military forced Russia to give up kyiv in the spring, then in the fall to withdraw from several other regions.

Responding to one of his interlocutors on Wednesday, the Russian president however judged that “the appearance of new territories” was a “significant result for Russia”. “The Sea of ​​Azov has become an inland sea, it’s a serious thing,” he proclaimed, referring to this maritime area which borders part of southwestern Russia and southeastern Ukraine, of which Moscow now controls the entire shore.

In addition, Vladimir Putin claimed in September the annexation of four Ukrainian regions although Russian control there is only partial and the fighting is daily. In November, Russian troops had to retreat from Kherson, the capital of the eponymous southern region that Russia considers its own. A humiliating withdrawal which followed that in September of the north-east of Ukraine.

The Kremlin had always denied that its offensive against Ukraine was intended to conquer new territories, claiming to want to defend the Russian-speaking populations and put an end to the alliance between kyiv and the West, considered threatening by Russia.

“Every meter counts”

Vladimir Putin also returned to the mobilization of 300,000 reservists, civilians therefore, noting that only half of them were immediately deployed in Ukraine. The announcement of this mobilization had provoked an exodus of Russians abroad and highlighted the army’s serious equipment problems.

On the front, the bombardments continued on Wednesday with in particular ten people killed, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a Russian strike on the city of Kurakhové, near Donetsk, in the East, where most of the fights.

“Today the Russian army carried out a strike in Kurakhové, a very brutal strike, absolutely calculated. Having precisely targeted (…) ordinary people. (…) The list of dead counts ten people and many injured,” Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday evening.

In this region, “it’s a very tough confrontation, every meter counts”, he underlined. “The occupiers are concentrating their main efforts (…) in the directions (of the cities) of Bakhmout (which the Russian forces have been trying for months to seize, Editor’s note) and Avdiivka”, also in the East, has reported in the evening the staff of the Ukrainian army.

Missiles and drones targeted civilian buildings in Korosten, in the vicinity of Zhitomyr (center-west), as well as localities in the region of Zaporizhya (south), he continued. Zelensky, “we have already managed to liberate 1,888 localities from occupation”, “almost as many Ukrainian towns and villages remain under Russian occupation”.

The fauna of Ukraine has also paid a heavy price with the death of thousands of dolphins in the Black Sea in recent months, an “ecocide” denounced Wednesday by Volodymyr Zelensky. According to him, the Ukrainians “collect the evidence of these crimes and intend to hold Russia responsible for them”.

Source: Europe1

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