Russian President said, in a speech to the nation, that Western countries are trying to “drag” Russia into an arms race

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, warned this Thursday (Feb 29, 2024) of the risk of a nuclear conflict with the West if NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) sends troops to Ukraine.

[O Ocidente] You must understand that we also have weapons that can hit targets on your territory. All this really threatens a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons and the destruction of civilization. Don’t they understand that?” he questioned.

The Russian leader’s statements were made during his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly and the nation. The event was held in Moscow.

During the speech, Putin stated that the West would try “drag” Moscow for an arms race, and that is why the country must develop a defense industrial complex to increase “its scientific, technological and industrial potential”.

“It is seriously necessary to strengthen the groups [das Forças Armadas russas] in the western strategic direction to neutralize threats associated with NATO’s upcoming expansion,” he stated, referring to Finland and Sweden’s accessions to the military alliance.

Putin also said that Western countries provoked conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East and other regions of the world. He further stated that the West continues to “to lie” by saying that Russia intends to attack Europe. “They are simply talking nonsense”, declared.

The Russian president also spoke about the country’s internal issues. He said that Russia must achieve, in the next 6 years, growth “sustainable” birth rate, in addition to defining clear objectives to reduce the level of poverty by 2030.

Putin also called for reform of the country’s tax system and suggested that higher taxes be levied on richer people and companies. “I propose to think about approaches to modernize our tax system, for a fairer distribution of the tax burden for those with higher personal and corporate income”, he stated.

This year’s address to the nation has greater significance because it was made two weeks before the presidential election in Russia, scheduled for March 15-17.

Putin is running for his 5th term. He has been in power for more than 20 years. He took over the Russian government in 1999 as interim president after Boris Yeltsin’s resignation and was elected to the position for the first time in 2000. He also won other races in 2004, 2012 and 2018.

This year, 3 other candidates are expected to run for the Kremlin. The election, however, is criticized by international observers for its lack of transparency and restrictions on opposition candidates, such as the veto on the registration of candidacies.


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