Experts from the US-led bloc helped equip Ukrainian combat drones that struck deep across the border, the president says.
NATO helped Ukraine conduct drone attacks on Russian airfields that house long-distance nuclear-capable bombers, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. He made the statement during the annual address to the Federal Assembly, which comprises both chambers of the country’s parliament, as well as to senior Russian officials.
“We know that the West was directly involved in the attempts by the Kiev regime to strike the bases that house our strategic aircraft,” Putin said.
“The drones used [in the raids] were equipped and upgraded with help from NATO experts.”
On December 5, UAVs attacked Dyagilevo and Engels military airfields located 500km (310.6 miles) and 700km (435 miles) from Ukrainian-held territory respectively. Three servicemen were killed and two aircraft received minor damage, the Russian Ministry of Defense said at the time. A similar drone raid on Engels Air Force Base in Saratov Region occurred on December 26, when three people were killed and no planes were damaged, according to the MOD.
Speaking on Tuesday, Putin said Moscow will temporarily withdraw from the 2010 New START Treaty with the US, which caps the number of nuclear warheads and the means of delivery, and allows for inspections of each other’s nuclear arsenal.
I want to emphasize: The US and NATO are saying outright that their goal is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. And, after this, they are going to tour our defense sites as if nothing is happening?
The 2010 treaty replaced the first START agreement signed by the US and the Soviet Union in 1991. Last month, the US accused Moscow of refusing to “facilitate inspection activities.” Putin also said that Russia’s requests for inspections have either been ignored or rejected.