Putin claims Ukraine will ‘deploy weapons’ if it enters NATO

Vladimir Putin has claimed that Ukraine will “use weapons” against Russia if admitted into NATO’s military alliance.

For the first time since his conversation with Joe Biden, Putin declined to say whether he would invade Ukraine, but he warned that simply allowing Kiev to stack more troops and weapons at the border would amount to “criminal inaction.”

“We cannot help but be concerned at the prospect of Ukraine’s possible admission to NATO, as this will undoubtedly be followed by the deployment of appropriate military contingents, bases and weapons that threaten us,” he said.

Russia’s foreign ministry followed up on the comments by delivering a letter of protest to the US embassy in Moscow over “dangerous” maneuvers by US and NATO warplanes and ships near its borders.

Putin has sent nearly 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border in what Moscow says is merely a response to the Western-backed nation’s own build-up of military equipment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen Tuesday at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi

Biden meets with Putin at virtual summit on Tuesday to address tensions over Ukraine

Biden meets with Putin at virtual summit on Tuesday to address tensions over Ukraine

Ukrainian troops stand at the border in the Donetsk region on Tuesday.  Ukrainian troops have been fighting in the area against Russian-backed separatists for eight years.

Ukrainian troops stand at the border in the Donetsk region on Tuesday. Ukrainian troops have been fighting in the area against Russian-backed separatists for eight years.

Russia now has 50 battalions consisting of 94,000 troops stationed on the Ukrainian border with another 80,000 - 100,000 in reserve and will be ready to invade in weeks, US has warned

Russia now has 50 battalions consisting of 94,000 troops stationed on the Ukrainian border with another 80,000 – 100,000 in reserve and will be ready to invade in weeks, US has warned

Biden held a virtual summit with the Russian president on Tuesday to warn that US troops would support Ukraine in combat and that a repeat of the 2014 annexation of Crimea should not take place.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy today welcomed Biden’s “personal role” in easing tensions.

Zelenskiy told a news conference that he hoped Ukraine and Russia could agree on a new ceasefire and prisoner exchange as their representatives held talks over the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.

Ukrainian troops have been fighting in the area against Russian-backed separatists for eight years.

“In general, I think it is positive that the President of the United States has spoken with the President of the Russian Federation,” Zelenskiy said.

“The most important thing we see now is that there is a personal real response and personal role from President Biden in resolving this conflict, the war in the east of our state.”

US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan claimed last night that Biden “looked President Putin in the eye and told him today that we want to do things we didn’t do in 2014.”

A White House statement after the call said Biden had expressed “deep concern” from both US and European allies over the build-up of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.

The president ‘made it clear that the US and our allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of a military escalation.”

The Kremlin quashed Sullivan’s version of the event, claiming Biden succumbed to Putin’s demands and denying that the US president had warned the Russian leader not to invade.

Foreign Affairs Yuri Ushakov said Biden agreed to “detail consultations” with Putin about military aid being given to Ukraine and NATO’s efforts to “conquer” the territory for itself.

Ushakov, 74, a former ambassador to the US, taunted Americans by denying that even a Russian invasion had been brought up in the online conversations.

“This wasn’t even mentioned,” he said. ‘Sending troops to Ukraine – how, what is that? Like some kind of invasion or something? It wasn’t even mentioned!’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits frontline positions with pro-Russian militants in the Donetsk region on Monday

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits frontline positions with pro-Russian militants in the Donetsk region on Monday

Ukraine's official Twitter account posted this meme on Tuesday with a dark joke about the

Ukraine’s official Twitter account posted this meme on Tuesday with a dark joke about the “headache” it got from “living next door to Russia”

Ukrainian soldiers walk on the dividing line of pro-Russian rebels near Katerinivka, Ukraine's Donetsk region, Tuesday

Ukrainian soldiers walk on the dividing line of pro-Russian rebels near Katerinivka, Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Tuesday

And Ushakov downplayed the West’s ability to bend Moscow with sanctions. “Sanctions are not new, they have been around for quite a long time, but unfortunately they have no positive effect on the US or Russia,” he added.

The economic sanctions, which could hit Russia’s largest banks and Moscow’s ability to convert the national currency’s rubles into dollars and other currencies, are designed to deter the Russian president from using tens of thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border to attack its southern neighbor.

During the White House press conference, Sullivan was asked what the reaction would be if Russia came to Ukraine through a “military escalation.”

He said the US expected that Baltic allies, including Romania, Poland and others, are increasingly concerned for their own security.

“They will, we expect, be looking for additional capabilities and possibly additional deployments and the United States will try to respond positively to those things in case there is a further incursion into Ukraine,” Sullivan replied.

Reservists of the Russian Combat Army Reserve conduct target practice as part of a training camp at the Prudboy firing range near Volgograd, a city in southwestern Russia

Reservists of the Russian Combat Army Reserve conduct target practice as part of a training camp at the Prudboy firing range near Volgograd, a city in southwestern Russia

He also said sanctions would likely include the cessation of Russia’s lucrative gas exports through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

As Biden and Putin spoke, Ukrainian officials grew more concerned about the tens of thousands of Russian troops deployed at the border.

Hours before the call began, Ukrainian officials claimed that Russia had further escalated the smoldering crisis by sending tanks and snipers into war-torn eastern Ukraine to “provoke return fire” and create a pretext for the possible invasion.

Ukraine has warned of a ‘massacre’ and of five million Ukrainian refugees fleeing into Europe if Russia decides to invade Kiev.

Satellite images have revealed massive new camps of Russian troops, tanks and artillery along the border as Putin continues to rally his forces on Europe’s doorstep.

Tensions along Europe’s eastern border have been simmering since Putin annexed Crimea in 2014, and have been looming since Moscow began pooling forces in the region in April this year.

Reservists from the country's Combat Army Reserve conduct target practice as part of a training camp at the Prudboy firing range near Volgograd

Reservists from the country’s Combat Army Reserve conduct target practice as part of a training camp at the Prudboy firing range near Volgograd

The aviation regiment near Chelyabinsk held fighter aircraft training In the sky over the airbase Shagol

The aviation regiment near Chelyabinsk held fighter aircraft training In the sky over the airbase Shagol

Reservists from the country's Combat Army Reserve conduct target practice as part of a training camp at the Prudboy firing range near Volgograd

Reservists from the country’s Combat Army Reserve conduct target practice as part of a training camp at the Prudboy firing range near Volgograd

The UK has joined Western leaders in pledging to form a ‘united front’ over Russia’s hostility to Ukraine, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson promising to use all ‘economic and diplomatic tools at the UK’s disposal’.

British Foreign Secretary Vicky Ford said the cost of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be “catastrophically high” and the UK is considering extending “purely defensive” aid to Kiev.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said Russia will be hit with tougher EU sanctions if its army threatens Ukraine.

The Kremlin, which said before the meeting it did not expect any breakthroughs, has denied having plans to invade Ukraine.

But Moscow has expressed growing resentment over Western military aid to Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that has tilted west since a popular uprising in 2014 overthrew a pro-Russian president, and what it calls a creeping NATO expansion.

Moscow has also questioned Ukraine’s intentions, saying it wants guarantees that Kiev will not use force to try to recapture territory lost to Russia-backed separatists in 2014, a scenario Ukraine has ruled out.

.