For Russia’s part, Putin has said that NATO countries who deploy weapons or soldiers to Ukraine would cross a “red line” for Moscow, and could trigger a strong response.
Putin was asked about Russia’s “red lines” when it came to Ukraine as he spoke at VTB Capital’s investment conference Tuesday.
He responded by saying that red lines would “probably be threats emanating from that territory [Ukraine] … if they station and deploy attack systems on Ukrainian soil the flight time to Moscow would be five to seven minutes …. and we would have to respond with something similar, against those who are menacing us and we can do that, we’re capable.”
Putin said Russia was concerned about military exercises he claimed were being carried out near Russian borders, saying these posed a threat to Moscow.
“The Russian Federation is concerned to an extent over major military exercises carried out near its borders, including in the Black Sea just recently, when strategic bombers were flying just 20 kilometers away from our border, armed with precision weapons and potentially even nuclear weapons, definitely we would regard that as a threat to us,” Putin said. He then complained about the expansion of NATO and military infrastructure, missile defense systems, that are positioned in Poland and Romania.
Russia said Wednesday it had started regular winter military drills in its southern military district, parts of which border Ukraine, and that 10,000 troops had relocated to training grounds across the area, Reuters reported.
Speaking to CNBC on Wednesday, Andrey Kostin, president and chairman of VTB Bank, responded to reports of the troop buildup on the Ukrainian border.
“Whatever movements we are making within the country, it’s within our territory, while, for example, we have NATO ships, including American ships, roaming the Black Sea which is only 20 or 30 kilometers away from the Russian border. … We are living under conditions where a NATO missile could reach our territory in seven minutes, so we’re under a much bigger threat, we believe, than NATO countries or America,” he told “Squawk Box Europe.”