WW3 fears as Putin warns of possible military response over ‘aggressive’ NATO

Fears of World War Three have escalated as Vladimir Putin has warned of a potential military response in reply to an ever “aggressive” NATO.

During a speech to top commanders on Tuesday afternoon, the Russian President said he will consider a military response if his country feels threatened by NATO.

He argued that the West is to blame for the rising tensions and demanded “security guarantees” from NATO, the Guardian reports.

This came following a build-up of tanks and artillery for what could constitute an invasion force against Ukraine within weeks.

“What the United States is doing in Ukraine is at our doorstep,” he said of Washington’s support for Kiev.

“And they should understand that we have nowhere further to retreat to. Under protection, they are arming and urging on extremists from a neighbouring country at Russia. Against Crimea, for instance. Do they think we’ll just watch idly?”

Putin did not specifically refer to the possibility of an offensive operation in Ukraine and Russian diplomats have previously suggested a response could employ other measures, such as moving intermediate-range missiles within striking distance of European targets.

By massing troops at Ukraine’s borders, however, Russia has made it clear that an attack is on the table.

He said: “If our western counterparts continue a clearly aggressive line, we will undertake proportionate military-technical countermeasures and will respond firmly to unfriendly steps. I’d like to stress that we are fully entitled to do that.”

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Parts of his speech on Tuesday seemed to try and give Russia a justification to launch a new military campaign in Ukraine.

Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said an unnamed private US military company had acquired chemical weapons and was planning to launch a “provocation” in the east Ukrainian cities of Avdeevka and Krasny Liman.

Putin repeated demands that the West make legal guarantees to ensure Russia’s security but said he would have difficulty trusting the US to abide by a treaty as it has withdrawn from treaties before, such as missile defence treaties and the Treaty on Open Skies.

He told commanders: “We need long-term legally binding guarantees. You and I know well that even they, legal guarantees, cannot be trusted because the United States easily withdraws from all international agreements it loses interest in for one reason or another … giving no explanations whatsoever.”

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