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Monday, January 16, 2023, 14:58
Putin aide: Russia fighting NATO in Ukraine
By Ren Qi in Moscow
Monday, January 16, 2023, 14:58 By Ren Qi in Moscow

Conflict is not just between Moscow and Kviv, US-led Western bloc also involved, official says

Residents remove debris and carry belongings out of a shop destroyed in recent shelling in the Donetsk region on Tuesday. (ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO / REUTERS)

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest aides said on Jan 10 that Moscow is now fighting the US-led NATO military alliance in Ukraine and that the West is trying to wipe Russia from the political map of the world.

“The events in Ukraine are not a clash between Moscow and Kyiv — this is a military confrontation between Russia and NATO, and above all the United States and Britain,” Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev told the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper.

“The Westerners’ plans are to continue to pull Russia apart, and eventually just erase it from the political map of the world.”

The US had sown chaos in Afghanistan, Vietnam and the Middle East, and has been trying for years to undermine Russia’s “unique” culture and language, Patrushev said.

“There is no place for our country in the West,” he said.

In response, he said Russia would achieve economic sovereignty and financial independence, while also building up its armed forces and special services to deter any potential aggressor.

When asked about Patrushev’s remarks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said NATO and the US were part of the Ukraine conflict.

“They have de facto already become an indirect party to this conflict, pumping Ukraine with weapons, technologies, intelligence information and so on,” Peskov told a regular news conference.

Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine has triggered one of the deadliest European conflicts since World War II and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Meanwhile, about 100 Ukrainian troops will head to the Fort Sill military base in Oklahoma in the US as soon as next week to begin training on the Patriot missile defense system, getting Kyiv closer to obtaining the long-sought protection against Russia’s missile attacks, The Associated Press reported.

The number of Ukrainians coming to Fort Sill is approximately the number it takes to operate one battery, and they will focus on learning to operate and also maintain the Patriot, Pentagon spokesman Air Force General Pat Ryder said on Jan 10.

The US pledged one Patriot battery in December as part of several large military assistance packages it has provided to Ukraine in recent weeks. Last week, Germany pledged an additional Patriot battery.

Each Patriot battery consists of a truck-mounted launching system with eight launchers that can hold up to four missile interceptors each, a ground radar, a control station and a generator. 

On the battlefield in Ukraine, fighting for salt mining town Soledar raged in subzero temperatures on Jan 11 as Russia’s paramilitary group Wagner claimed it had taken control, with its fighters training their fire on a pocket of resistance in the town center.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov has been appointed the new commander of Russia’s integrated group of forces in Ukraine. 

Gerasimov will succeed Sergei Surovikin, commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, who was appointed commander of Russia’s integrated group of forces in the special military operation in Ukraine in October last year.

The decision was made due to the fact that a wider range of tasks will be implemented within the scope of the special military operation, the ministry said, adding that closer interaction will be required between branches of the forces, and the troops will need stronger support as well as more effective command and control.

Xinhua contributed to this report.

renqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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