“These weapons (unique state-of-the-art weapons such as the Avangard missile system, Sarmat missile, Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile, Peresvet combat laser weapons, etc.) will multiply the potential of our army and navy, thus reliably and absolutely ensuring Russia’s security for decades ahead. These weapons are consolidating the balance of forces and, thus, international stability. I hope our new systems will provide food for thought to those who are used to militaristic and aggressive rhetoric.”
In geopolitical terms, Putin drew the bottom line that Moscow will not blink and Russian military prowess is indomitable. Quite obviously, the stern Russian warning comes at a time when the US is pushing the European allies to impose more sanctions against Russia and is threatening to increase its military presence in the Black Sea following the Kerch Strait incident last month. Tensions are rising over Ukraine, which lies historically in the First Circle of Russian national defence. Russia has reportedly deployed Sukhoi Su-27 and SU-30 fighter jets to the Belbek air base in Crimea. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday, presumably on the basis of intelligence inputs available with Moscow, that Ukraine may stage provocative moves militarily on the border of Crimea later this month and that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have amassed around 12,000 troops and a great amount of equipment on the contact line with the insurgent region of Donbass.
Lavrov disclosed that instructors from the US, Britain and other countries are actively helping the Ukrainian build-up, while a US drone is constantly flying over the region. (Xinhua) With a near-certainty that the chances of pro-American Petro Poroshenko winning a renewed mandate in the March presidential elections being virtually zero, a casus belli would suit the US to prepare the ground for Ukraine’s post-haste induction into the NATO and the EU. Putin only briefly touched on Ukraine, saying the conflict in the southeastern region “continued unabated.”
Significantly, in his address on Wednesday, Putin made a pointed reference to China while commending the Vostok-2018 military exercises. He said the maneuvers contributed to the “substantial upgrades” in the level of operational and combat training of Russian armed forces and in displaying their ability to “promptly move forces and equipment” over 7000 kms “and to quickly reinforce units in major strategic areas wherever necessary.” Putin then added that it was “important” to note that units from China “also acted under the general plan, in single formation with our troops.” He came close to taking note of what western analysts call the “functional military alliance” between Russia and China.
The United States will provide an additional $10 million in military financing to Ukraine to bolster its navy after Russia captured three Ukrainian vessels at sea last month, in a "dangerous escalation," the State Department said on Friday.
The move comes after Lithuania and the United Kingdom increased their security assistance to Ukraine, the department said, following the Nov. 25 attack near the Kerch Strait.
"The United States calls on Russia to immediately return to Ukraine the seized vessels and detained Ukrainian crews, to keep the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov open to ships transiting to and from Ukrainian ports, and to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the State Department added.