Photo: ALEXEY DANICHEV/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images
Any country that tries to intervene in the Ukraine war will face a “lightning” response, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned.
“We have all the tools that no one can boast of… we will use them if necessary,” he said, in what is seen as a reference to ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, explains BBC journalist Yaroslav Lukov.
Ukraine’s allies have increased arms supplies to the country, and the United States has vowed to make sure Ukraine defeats Russia.
Western officials say Russia is encountering difficulties in its campaign in eastern Ukraine.
Last week, Russia launched a major offensive to seize the Donbas region after withdrawing from areas around the Ukrainian capital, kyiv.
But, according to one official, Russian forces “are having a hard time overcoming staunch Ukrainian resistance and are taking losses.”
Putin made his comments while speaking to Russian lawmakers in the northern city of St. Petersburg on Wednesday.
The Russian leader added that all decisions have already been made about what that response would include, without providing further details.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and, a few days later, President Putin ordered his army to put on high alert nuclear deterrence forces From Russia.
Analysts suggest that such threats are an attempt by Putin to warn Ukraine’s allies not to intervene further in the conflict.
President Putin spoke a day after Western nations held a summit in Germany, where they promised to increase military support for Ukraine.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has vowed to move “heaven and earth” to make sure Ukraine wins the war.
Recently there have been a growing number of promises to increase military support for Ukraine, including Germany’s announcement that it will send 50 anti-aircraft tanks, in a sea change in policy.
Analysis by Paul Adams, diplomatic correspondent
Western officials have been reporting the latest in the war and say Russia has continued to build up forces in and around Donbas and is making minor gains.
“But when confronted with genuine military targets, they find it difficult to overcome staunch Ukrainian resistance and suffer losses,” an official said.
Heavy rains are also hampering the Russian advance. “The Russians don’t like to fight in the rain,” one official said, adding that the Russians have little tactical awareness and continue to suffer from logistical difficulties.
They have the ability to operate off-road, but officials say it’s surprising they still choose not to.
Even in places where Ukrainian forces have been encircled, they have managed to resupply their forces “over an astonishing length of time.” (Mariúpol being the most obvious example).
The officials noted that even in places where Russia has gained ground, Ukrainian forces have shown a “remarkable” ability to fight back, sometimes doing so so quickly that the Russians quickly find themselves at a disadvantage.
Ukrainian special forces, operating behind Russian lines, are exploiting the vulnerability of long supply lines, helping to buy Ukraine time.
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