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Putin warns West of 'serious consequences' if Russian soil is hit

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Tuesday of “serious consequences” if Western countries let Ukraine use their weapons to strike Russian soil.

“This constant escalation can lead to serious consequences,” Putin told reporters Tuesday in Uzbekistan, according to multiple news wire services.

His remarks come amid heightened pressure from some NATO members and from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to let the war-torn democracy strike Russian soil directly. The United States has not called for such a move.

“If these serious consequences occur in Europe, how will the United States behave, bearing in mind our parity in the field of strategic weapons?” Putin added, in his remarks to reporters. “It’s hard to say — do they want a global conflict?”

The use of long-range weapons to strike Russia would rely on Western intelligence data, Putin said, and would suggest NATO military personnel would be involved in the attacks. Putin issued a stark warning against such a move.

“Representatives of countries that are NATO members, particularly in Europe, should be aware of what they are playing with,” Putin said.

“Countries with small territory and dense populations” should be particularly careful, Putin warned.

Ukraine’s struggle to fend off Russia’s massive offensive in the Kharkiv region has highlighted the ban on firing U.S. weapons to hit inside Russia as a key issue that Kyiv has sought to reverse.

Some Ukrainian officials have argued that Russia’s attack, launched from the Belgorod region, could have been blunted if they were allowed to hit targets in that Russian province. 

A delegation of five Ukrainian members of parliament traveled to Washington this month to meet with Biden administration officials and congressional lawmakers in a bid to push the U.S. to reverse the ban.

“It’s like if somebody were to attack Washington, D.C., from the Virginia state, and you say we’re not going to hit Virginia for some reason,” David Arakhamia, head of a Ukrainian parliamentary group on U.S. relations and the lawmaker who led the delegation, said earlier this month. “It’s crazy. Military people, like generals, they don’t understand. So they are pushing us as politicians, like stop [the policy], this is insane.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a trip to Kyiv this month, said the U.S. was committed to ensuring Ukraine can win the war against Russia but stressed Kyiv should focus on taking back Ukrainian territory.

“Ukraine has to make decisions for itself about how it’s going to conduct this war, a war it’s conducting in defense of its freedom, of its sovereignty, of its territorial integrity,” Blinken said at a press conference during his trip. “We’ve been clear about our own policy.”

The Associated Press contributed.

Source: The Hill

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