Putin threatens to increase the warfare to Western strategic targets – however can he ship? | EUROtoday

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President Vladimir Putin mentioned this week that he reserves the best to produce long-range weapons to Russian allies for potential use in opposition to Western strategic pursuits – a response to Ukraine getting the inexperienced mild to make use of NATO-supplied weapons for restricted assaults inside Russia. But some navy consultants say Putin’s newest menace may be restricted on the bottom.

As US President Joe Biden arrived in France for a four-day go to geared toward commemorating 80 years since D-Day and deepening transatlantic ties, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a brand new menace.

At an financial summit in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Putin warned that Russia may present long-range weapons to nations which may use them to strike Western strategic amenities.

Putin introduced his newest menace as a response to NATO members – notably the United States and Germany – reversing course to permit Ukraine to make use of Western weapons for restricted strikes inside Russia.

“If they think it’s possible to deliver such weapons to a combat zone to launch strikes on our territory and create problems for us, why don’t we have the right to supply weapons of the same type to some regions of the world, where they can be used to launch strikes on their sensitive facilities?” Putin requested.

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed France’s National Assembly on Friday after collaborating in marking D-Day, Russia escalated its warnings that the West was taking part in with fireplace with its assist to Kyiv.

A Russian overseas ministry spokesperson mentioned Friday that US-supplied HIMARS (rocket launchers) had “murdered” a girl and youngster in Russia’s southern Belgorod area. It was the primary time that Moscow has held the United States liable for Russian civilian deaths.

The Kremlin additionally accused French President Emmanuel Macron of “inflaming tensions” following his promise to switch French Mirage 2000-5s fighter jets to Ukraine.

“Macron demonstrates absolute support for the Kyiv regime and declares readiness for France’s direct participation in the military conflict,” mentioned Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “We consider these statements to be very, very provocative, inflaming tensions on the continent and not conducive to anything positive.”

Vague threats

Putin’s warning about arming enemies of the West got here as Moscow tries to mission its naval energy world wide, in keeping with US officers.

Moscow is planning naval drills within the Caribbean this summer season, in keeping with media reviews, citing US officers. The workout routines will doubtless embody port calls in Cuba and Venezuela, two Latin American nations which have unequivocally supported Moscow’s warfare in Ukraine.

“Russia wants to scare the West with weapons proliferation and seems to be trying to expand the confrontation region with the West,” mentioned Jeff Hawn, a Russia specialist on the London School of Economics.

But Putin’s rhetoric “remains very vague”, with no particulars of the arms deployment supplied, famous Joseph Moses, navy technique knowledgeable on the International Team for the Study of Security (ITSS) Verona.

The goal stays “to scare Western leaders and to provide ammunition to people sympathetic with Putin’s worldview, and to those who want a quick peace in Ukraine whatever the cost”, explained Hawn. Putin remains deliberately vague in the hope of swaying public opinion in the West, allowing listeners to interpret his threats according to their own fears.

Extending Russia’s foothold in Africa

But some experts note that Russia’s choice of friendly countries willing to sign up for this latest plan is limited.

Putin’s threats “could mean expanding its military equipment signature in Belarus”, mentioned Moses. “The different path of least resistance are the African nations, the place we’re seeing a pivot away from Europe and America.”

There are growing indicators of Russia searching for nearer navy cooperation with a number of African nations. Moses famous that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s whirlwind tour of sub-Saharan Africa this week included visits to Burkina Faso and Chad for the primary time.

“In terms of providing military and kinetic aid to other countries, my assessment is that we can expect an intensifying of Russia’s foothold in central Africa,” mentioned Moses. Russia and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a navy cooperation settlement in March in Moscow’s bid to rebrand the Wagner Group’s operations in Africa.

While this a part of Africa just isn’t residence to many strategic Western websites, the inflow of recent Russian weapons could possibly be a further destabilising issue within the area.

The ‘dominant power’ within the Americas

Sub-Saharan Africa will not be the one vacation spot for Russian weapons concentrating on Western pursuits. “The most likely candidates are Iran and North Korea. Russia is already kind of doing it anyway, but no one wants to see these countries with even more weapons to threaten the West,” said Veronika Poniscjakova, a specialist in international security issues and the Ukraine war at the University of Portsmouth.

On the other hand, Russia’s ability to deliver more weapons with impunity to its Latin American allies are limited. These countries would also have to agree to strike at Western strategic interests, which is far from certain.

Venezuela and Cuba “recognise that the US is “by far the dominant power in the region” of Latin America, Hawn said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko represents a textbook case of an “ally” unwilling to venture too far down the path of war against the West, he noted. “In Belarus, Lukashenko is trying hard to not go to deep into the war even though he is claiming that he is a hundred percent on Putin’s side.”

In addition, Russia can ill afford to flood the world with weapons in an attempt to export its war in Ukraine.

“They can, of course, send military advisers and – more importantly – battlefield data on the performance of drones and weapons platforms, and how they have fared against Western systems. This intelligence is very important,” said Moses. “Since Russia has a high rate of production [for] cruise missiles, it is possible that they could [export them] – as well as drones ranging from large platforms to smaller, copter hand-held drones. It could also provide these countries with ‘dumber’ options like artillery shells, which Russia has in large quantities.”

But given Russia’s weapons wants in Ukraine, Poniscjakova mentioned Moscow could be very unlikely to ship any of its “good” weapons to different nations.

Hawn added that Western strategic websites are additionally “well protected against even the most modern weapons”.

‘A bear that cannot bite’

While Putin clearly felt compelled to react to the US and Germany agreeing to let Ukraine use Western missiles to strike targets on Russian territory, Moscow’s threats of retaliation are “essentially meaningless”, mentioned Poniscjakova.

“At this point, it’s just complaining. It’s like a bear that cannot bite.”

The upcoming naval workout routines within the Caribbean are a traditional instance of this “Made in Moscow” communications warfare.

“It would be very surprising, given the state of the Russian fleet, if there were more than three or four ships sent to the Caribbean,” mentioned Hawn. “Most of the bluewater (open sea) hulls were built during the Cold War and are in bad shape. They can try to project power in the Caribbean, but I would be very surprised if they send more than three or four ships.”

Russian naval workout routines within the Caribbean are additionally not unprecedented, Poniscjakova famous. Moscow participated in naval drills within the area in 2008 which had been adopted by naval coaching workout routines with Iran and China within the Gulf of Oman.

These high-seas sorties, in keeping with Poniscjakova, are merely alternatives for Moscow “to try and convince its allies that, despite two years of war in Ukraine, Russia is still capable of projecting its military power anywhere in the world”.

(This article is a translation of the unique in French.)