Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fueling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
‘The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fueling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,’ Putin said in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow via video link.
‘The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilize and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world,’ he added.
The Russian tyrant – who ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 – was delivering the welcome address at the Moscow international security conference.
He said Pelosi’s visit was a ‘brazen demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its (Washington’s) international obligations’.
‘We see this as a carefully planned provocation,’ Putin said.
As it enters its sixth month, Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine has killed thousands, forced millions to flee their homes and exacerbated food shortages across the world.
Speaking at the security conference, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow does not plan to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
‘From a military point of view, there is no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve the set goals,’ Shoigu said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fueling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. Pictured: Putin delivers an address from Moscow today
Pictured: US military personnel stand by a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in Saudi Arabia in March. The US has supplied Ukraine with several HIMARS
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been in tatters since Putin launched his military intervention in pro-Western Ukraine, with Russia warning it may sever ties with the United States entirely.
Meanwhile, the US and other Western allies have supplied Ukraine with billions of dollars of support and weapons to fight against the brutal invasion. One such weapons system is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which has proven highly effective against Putin’s forces.
Russia calls its invasion of Ukraine a ‘special military operation’ to demilitarize its smaller neighbor and protect Russian-speaking communities.
Ukraine and Western backers accuse Moscow of waging an imperial-style war of conquest, with frequent evidence of Russian atrocities coming out of the country.
Pummelled by a barrage of unprecedented Western sanctions, Putin has instead sought to bolster ties with countries in Africa and Asia, especially with China.
Moscow was in full solidarity with key ally Beijing during Pelosi’s August visit to self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which China considers its territory.
Putin’s comments came as China imposed visa bans and other sanctions on Taiwanese political figures as it raises pressure on the self-governing island and the U.S. in response to the congressional visits.
The sanctions come a day after China set more military exercises in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan in response to what it called ‘collusion and provocation between the U.S. and Taiwan.’
There’s been no word on the timing and scale of the Chinese exercises.
They were announced the same day a U.S. congressional delegation met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, and after a similar visit by Pelosi, the highest-level member of the U.S. government to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
The Chinese government objects to Taiwan having any official contact with foreign governments because it considers Taiwan its own territory, and its recent saber rattling has emphasized its threat to take the island by military force.
Pelosi’s visit was followed by nearly two weeks of threatening Chinese military exercises that included the firing of missiles over the island and incursions by navy ships and warplanes across the midline of the Taiwan Strait that has long been a buffer between the sides.
Pictured: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (center) posing for a group photo next to US Senator Ed Markey (C-L) during a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, 15 August 2022
Taiwan Presidential Office shows Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (right) posing for a photo with US Senator Ed Markey (left) during a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, 15 August 2022
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that China had overreacted with its ‘provocative and totally unnecessary response to the congressional delegation that visited Taiwan earlier this month.’
And on Tuesday, a top US military commander said China’s recent decision to fire missiles over Taiwan is a ‘gorilla in the room’ that has to be contested.
Those exercises included firing multiple ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan – some of the world’s busiest shipping routes – and it was the first time China has taken such a step since the mid-1990s.
‘It’s very important that we contest this type of thing. I know that the gorilla in the room is launching missiles over Taiwan,’ Seventh Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas told reporters in Singapore.
‘If we just allow that to happen, and we don’t contest that, that’ll be the next norm,’ he added. ‘It’s irresponsible to launch missiles over Taiwan into international waters, where the shipping lanes, where free shipping operates.’
The Seventh Fleet is based in Japan and is a core part of Washington’s navy presence in the Pacific.
During this month’s drills Chinese state media reported that some of the ballistic missiles fired by the People’s Liberation Army followed a trajectory directly over Taiwan’s capital Taipei, a new escalation that Beijing stopped short of confirming.
Thomas compared the threats against Taiwan to the South China Sea where Beijing has spent years constructing military bases and facilities on a series of contested atolls, while denying it was doing just that.
‘If you don’t challenge it… all of a sudden it can become just like the islands in the South China Sea (that) have now become military outposts,’ he said.
‘They now are full functioning military outposts that have missiles on them, large runways, hangers, radars, listening posts.’
Pictured: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi walks next to Legislative Yuan Vice President Tsai Chi-chang as she leaves the parliament in Taipei, Taiwan August 3, 2022
An Air Force pilot navigates an aircraft next to a fighter jet under the Eastern Theatre Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during military exercises in the waters and airspace around Taiwan, at an undisclosed location August 9, 2022
The targets of China’s latest sanctions include Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the U.S., Bi-khim Hsiao and legislators Ker Chien-ming, Koo Li-hsiung, Tsai Chi-chang, Chen Jiau-hua and Wang Ting-yu, along with activist Lin Fei-fan.
They will be barred from traveling to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, and from having any financial or personal connections with people and entities in those areas, according to the ruling Communist Party’s Taiwan Work Office.
The measures were designed to ‘resolutely punish’ those considered ‘diehard elements’ supporting Taiwan’s independence, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Premier Su Tseng-chang, leader of the Legislature You Si-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu were already on China’s sanctions list and will face more restrictions, Xinhua said.
China exercises no legal authority over Taiwan and it’s unclear what effect the sanctions would have. China has refused all contact with Taiwan’s government since shortly after the 2016 election of Tsai, who was overwhelmingly reelected in 2020.
Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party also controls the legislature, and the vast majority of Taiwanese favor maintaining the status-quo of de facto independence amid strong economic and social connections between the sides.
China accuses the U.S. of encouraging the island’s independence through the sale of weapons and engagement between U.S. politicians and the island’s government.
Washington says it does not support independence, has no formal diplomatic ties with the island and maintains that the two sides should settle their dispute peacefully – but it is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself against any attack.
Taiwan has put its military on alert, but has taken no major countermeasures against the Chinese measures. That has been reflected in the overriding calm and large spread ambivalence among the public, who have lived under threat of Chinese attack from more than seven decades.
Taiwan announced air force and ground-to-air missile drills for Thursday and Friday.