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‘We have more nuclear weapons’ – Putin warns NATO over being drawn into Ukraine war

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned there is a “serious danger” of NATO being drawn further into the Ukraine war if members of the alliance continue to supply military weaponry to Kyiv.

 

The comment appeared to be a reference to the F-16 fighter jets some members of the NATO alliance are making plans to supply Ukraine with.

 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was formed in the aftermath of World War II to defend Western nations from the Soviet Union and the alliance contains a mutual defense clause where an attack on any one member is considered an attack on all.

Although, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, some NATO members have been supplying Kyiv with tanks, armored vehicles and other weaponry – prompting threats of retaliation from Russia.

In late April, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO allies and partners had delivered more than 1,500 vehicles and 230 tanks to the country.

“NATO, of course, is being drawn into the war in Ukraine, what are we talking here,” Putin said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday, June 16.

“The supplies of heavy military weaponry to Ukraine are ongoing, they are now looking into giving Ukraine the jets.”

During his speech in St. Petersburg, Putin said Russia had destroyed tanks “including Leopards” at the front lines.

“And if they are based abroad, but used in fighting we’ll see how to hit them, and where we can hit those means that are used against us in fighting,” Putin said.

“This is a serious danger of further drawing NATO into this military conflict,” he added.

During his speech to the forum, Putin also suggested Russia’s large number of nuclear weapons would “guarantee” its security as Russia had more such weapons than NATO countries.

Russia has a total stockpile of around 6,250 nuclear warheads as of January 2021, according to the Arms Control Association. The US has more than 5,500 while two other NATO member states, Britain and France, have about 220 and 290 nuclear warheads, respectively.

“Nuclear weapons are created to guarantee our security in the broader sense and the existence of the Russian state,” Putin said.

“But first of all, there is no need and secondly the very fact of talking about it reduces the possibility of the threshold for using these weapons being reduced.”

“Also, we have more weapons like this than the NATO countries. They know it and they keep driving towards negotiation on reduction.”

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3 teens arrested in Germany for allegedly plotting terror attack

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German authorities have arrested three teenagers aged 15 and 16 on suspicion of plotting a deadly Islamist terrorist attack in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, prosecutors said on Friday.

 

The state’s Central Office for the Prosecution of Terrorism (ZenTer NRW) sought an arrest warrant for the teenagers over the Easter holiday.

 

They were suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in accordance with the aims and ideology of (extremist militia organisation) Islamic State.

The detained suspects are a 15-year-old girl from Dusseldorf, a 16-year-old girl from the Märkischer Kreis district and a 15-year-old boy from the Soest district, located about 100 kilometres to the east of Dusseldorf.

A fourth suspect has reportedly been identified in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and the local court there has issued an arrest warrant.

According to the investigators, the teenagers are accused of having agreed to commit murder and manslaughter.

This is in conjunction with the preparation of a serious act of violence endangering the state.

The presumption of innocence applied in all stages of the proceedings.

Security sources told newsmen that the young people had formed a chat group, but had not drawn up a concrete attack plan for a particular time and place.

However, sources said the cities of Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Cologne were discussed as targets, and attacks with knives and Molotov cocktails on people in churches or police officers in police stations had been considered.

The sources said authorities had also conducted searches as part of the investigation.

A machete and a dagger were seized in Dusseldorf, but no evidence of the construction of incendiary devices was discovered.

Sources said the father of the Dusseldorf suspect had already attracted attention from authorities in the past because he had allegedly collected donations for the Islamic State.

The investigators declined to reveal how the suspected terrorists were tracked down, but said that foreign intelligence agencies “did not play a role.”

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Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election

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Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

 

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

 

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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