Putin vows to press attack on Ukraine; courts India, China

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed on Friday to press ahead with his attack on Ukraine despite Ukraine’s latest counter-offensive and warned that Moscow could increase its attacks on the country’s vital infrastructure if Ukrainian forces target the facilities in Russia

Speaking to reporters on Friday after attending a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan, Putin said the “liberation” of the entire eastern Donbass region from Ukraine remains Russia’s main military objective and that he does not see the need to revise it.

“We are in no rush,” the Russian leader said, adding that Moscow has only deployed volunteer soldiers to fight in Ukraine. Some hard-line politicians and military bloggers have urged the Kremlin to follow Ukraine’s lead and order a broad mobilization to bolster the ranks, lamenting Russia’s labor shortage.

Russia was forced to withdraw its forces from large swathes of northeastern Ukraine last week after a swift Ukrainian counter-offensive. Ukraine’s decision to regain control of several cities and towns occupied by Russia was the biggest military setback for Moscow since its forces were forced to withdraw from areas near the capital at the start of the war.

In his first comment on the Ukrainian counteroffensive, Putin said: “Let’s see how it develops and how it ends.”

He noted that Ukraine has tried to attack civilian infrastructure in Russia and “so far we have responded with restraint, but still.”

“If the situation develops in this way, our response will be more serious,” Putin said.

“Recently, the Russian armed forces have launched a couple of shocking attacks,” he said in an apparent reference to Russian attacks earlier this week on power plants in northern Ukraine and a dam in the south. “Let’s consider them warning strikes.”

He alleged, without providing details, that Ukraine has tried to launch attacks “close to our nuclear facilities, nuclear power plants,” adding that “we will retaliate if they do not understand that these methods are unacceptable.”

Russia has reported numerous explosions and fires at civilian infrastructure in areas near Ukraine, as well as ammunition depots and other facilities. Ukraine has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks and declined to comment on others.

Putin also sought to calm India’s concerns over the conflict in Ukraine on Friday, telling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Moscow wants to see a quick end to the fighting and claiming that Ukrainian officials will not negotiate.

“I know your position on the conflict in Ukraine and the concerns you have repeatedly expressed,” the Russian leader told Modi. “We will do everything we can to end this as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the other side, the leadership of Ukraine, has rejected the negotiation process and has stated that it wants to achieve its goals by military means, on the battlefield “.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says it is Russia that allegedly does not want to negotiate seriously. He has also insisted on the withdrawal of Russian troops from occupied areas of Ukraine as a precondition for talks.

Putin’s remarks during talks with Modi echoed comments the Russian leader made during Thursday’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping when Putin thanked him for his government’s “balanced position” on the war Ukraine, while adding that it was ready to discuss China’s unspecified “concerns.” about Ukraine

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Putin said he and Xi “discussed what we need to do under the current conditions to efficiently counter the illegal restrictions” imposed by the West. The European Union, the United States and other Western nations have placed sanctions on Russian energy because of the war in Ukraine.

Xi, in a statement released by his government, expressed his support for Russia’s “core interests” but also an interest in working together to “inject stability” into world affairs. China’s relations with Washington, Europe, Japan and India have been strained by disputes over technology, security, human rights and territory.

Zhang Lihua, an international relations expert at Tsinghua University, said the reference to stability “is mainly related to China-US relations,” adding that “the United States has used all means to suppress China, which forced China to seek cooperation with Russia. .”

China and India have refused to join Western sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine while increasing their purchases of Russian oil and gas, helping Moscow offset financial restrictions imposed by the US and its allies

Putin also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday to discuss strengthening economic cooperation and regional issues, including a July agreement brokered by Turkey and the United Nations that allowed Ukrainian grain exports from ports to resume of the country’s Black Sea.

Speaking at the Uzbekistan summit on Friday, Xi warned his Central Asian neighbors not to allow foreigners to destabilize them. The warning reflects Beijing’s anxiety that Western support for democracy and human rights activists is a plot to undermine Xi’s Communist Party and other authoritarian governments.

“We must prevent external forces from instigating a color revolution,” Xi said in a speech to leaders of Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries, referring to protests that toppled unpopular regimes in the past Soviet Union and the Middle East.

Xi offered to train 2,000 police officers, establish a regional counter-terrorism training center and “strengthen the development of law enforcement capacity.” He did not elaborate.

His comments echoed long-standing Russian complaints about color-coded democratic uprisings in various ex-Soviet nations that the Kremlin saw as instigated by the US and its allies.

Xi is promoting a “Global Security Initiative” announced in April following the formation of the Quad by the US, Japan, Australia and India in response to Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy. US officials complain that it echoes Russian arguments in support of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Central Asia is part of China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to expand trade by building ports, railways and other infrastructure across an arc of dozens of countries from the South Pacific through Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was formed by Russia and China as a counterweight to the influence of the United States. The group also includes India, Pakistan and the four former Soviet nations of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran is on track to receive full membership.

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