Putin Responds To NATO Chief's Vow That "Ukraine Will Join NATO" On War's Anniversary

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Feb 26, 2024 - 11:40 PM

In weekend remarks made on the occasion of the Russia-Ukraine war hitting the two-year mark, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued some ultra-provocative predictions regarding Kiev's future with the Western military alliance. 

"Ukraine will join NATO. It is not a question of if, but of when," he said in a video message released Saturday, Feb. 24, which marked an exact two years since Russian forces poured across the Ukrainian border.

"As we prepare you for that day, NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine. For your security, and for ours," Stoltenberg added. This 'vow' of future NATO membership comes at a moment where even Ukraine's staunchest external supporters acknowledge its forces are in retreat.

Stoltenberg acknowledged this "extremely serious" state of battlefield affairs and asserted "there are no indications" President Vladimir Putin is preparing for peace.

Still he praised and sought to spin reports of the latest major losses as Kiev forces are in retreat (especially from Avdiivka), instead emphasizing recent 'positive' naval actions and developments in the Black Sea, such as the sinking of a Russian landing ship this month.

"You have recaptured half of the territory seized by Russia. Pushed Russia back from large parts of the Black Sea. And inflicted heavy losses on the Russian forces," the NATO chief said. 

Referencing billions of dollars of Western defense aid poured into Kiev so far, including "artillery ammunition, air defence, and combat boats ... F-16 equipment and spare parts, drones, and demining equipment" - he pledged that "more support is on the way."

In a response the following day, President Putin warned that European countries will "automatically be pulled into a war with Russia" if Ukraine is allowed to enter NATO.

Putin said the following in televised remarks translated by The Daily Mail:

If Ukraine joins NATO and attempts to bring Crimea back by military, it means the European countries will automatically pulled into a war conflict with Russia.?

NATO and Russia potentials are incomparable. We understand it. But we also understand that Russia is one of the leading nuclear states. And by some modern components, it even outperforms many.

That's when the Russian leader stressed that in such a scenario "There will be no winners" as "you will be pulled into this conflict against your will. You wont even have time to blink your eye when you execute Article 5. I don't want it."

Last week Stoltenberg had also for the first time issued a greenlight on behalf of NATO for Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, or to choose targets "outside Ukraine" - as he put it.

"Ukraine has the right to self-defense," he had told Radio Free Europe on Tuesday. "And that includes also striking legitimate military targets, Russian military targets, outside Ukraine. That is international law and, of course, Ukraine has the right to do so, to protect itself."

While Ukraine has already long been doing this, and is positively boasting about it - including attacks on oil and energy infrastructure and even civilian centers such as Belgorod city - NATO has never issued such blunt statements openly encouraging these attacks. If anything Western leaders have until now officially urged restraint on attacks deep into Russia (publicly anyway). Thus it seems the war is entering a new, darker phase wherein dirtier tactics are authorized and even encouraged by the West.