Vladimir Putin has issued one of his most ominous warnings yet, claiming Moscow has barely started its campaign in Ukraine and daring the west to try to defeat it on the battlefield.
Speaking at a meeting with parliamentary leaders on Thursday, the Russian president said the prospects for any negotiation would grow dimmer the longer the conflict dragged on.
“Everyone should know that by and large we haven’t started anything yet in earnest,” he said. “At the same time, we don’t reject peace talks. But those who reject them should know that the further it goes, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with us.”
Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov doubled down on the threats on Friday, saying that only “a small part” of Russia’s “great” military potential was currently being used in Ukraine.
Putin in his meeting with parliamentary leaders accused Ukraine’s western allies of fuelling hostilities, charging that “the west wants to fight us until the last Ukrainian” and that they were welcome to try but it would only bring tragedy for Ukraine.
“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say – let them try,” he said. “The goals of the special military operation will be achieved. There are no doubts about that.”