June 13th, 2024

Putin warns Germany that use of its weapons by Ukraine to strike Russia will mark ‘dangerous step’

By James Jordan And Harriet Morris, The Associated Press on June 5, 2024.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Lakhta Center skyscraper, the headquarters of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Alexander Zholobov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Germany on Wednesday that the use of its weapons by Ukraine to strike targets in Russia would mark a “dangerous step” and ruin relations between Berlin and Moscow.

Germany joined the United States recently in authorizing Ukraine to hit some targets on Russian soil with the long-range weapons they are supplying to Kyiv.

The deliveries of German tanks to Ukraine came as a shock to many in Russia, he said.

“Now if they use missiles to strike facilities on the Russian territory it will completely ruin Russian-German relations,” he said.

Taking questions from international journalists for the first time since his inauguration last month to a fifth term, Putin also said nothing will change in terms of Russia-U.S. relations regardless of whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump wins the American presidential election in November.

“We will work with any president the American people elect,” Putin said, speaking on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

“I say absolutely sincerely, I wouldn’t say that we believe that after the election something will change on the Russian track in the American politics,” he added. “We don’t think so. We think nothing that serious will happen.”

Putin also said Trump’s felony conviction at his hush money trial last week was the result of “the use of the court system as part of the internal political struggle.”

The Russian leader faced questions from senior news leaders of international news agencies, including The Associated Press.

Putin has used the annual forum as a showcase for touting Russia’s development and seeking investors. While meetings with journalists were part of previous sessions, he has not taken questions from Western journalists at the St. Petersburg event since sending troops to Ukraine.

Last year, journalists from countries that Russia regards as unfriendly – including the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union – were not invited, and Western officials and investors also steered clear of the session after wide-ranging sanctions were imposed on Moscow over Ukraine.

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