Russian President Vladimir Putin lobbed a thinly veiled threat at Western powers Thursday — while reportedly flanked by two aides carrying his country's "nuclear football," which can potentially launch nuclear capabilities throughout the world — by saying he was prepared to use "more than just tanks" against the NATO countries supporting Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.
In his speech in Volgograd commemorating the 80-year anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, Putin hinted at unleashing Russia's entire military arsenal — including nuclear weapons — to counter the West's so-called aggression.
"We don't send our tanks to their borders, but we have the means to respond; and it won't end with the use of armored vehicles. Everyone must understand that," said Putin. "A modern war with Russia will be completely different."
Regarding a potential conflict with the United States, Putin reportedly insisted that Russia "has friends all over the world, including on the American continent," perhaps implying that Cuba and Venezuela remain faithful allies to Russia.
On Thursday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov ramped up the rhetoric, pledging that Russia would "make greater use of its potential," amid the supposed threats of an escalation of war.
Putin's speech in Stalingrad might have served another purpose: During World War II, the Soviet Red Army suffered more than 1 million casualties in 1943 while attempting to fight off Germany's invasion.
"It's unbelievable but true. We are again being threatened by German Leopard tanks," said Putin in his speech. "Unfortunately, we see that the ideology of Nazism in its modern form and manifestation again directly threatens the security of our country."
Putin continued: "Again and again, we have to repel the aggression of the collective West. It's incredible, but it's a fact: we are again being threatened with German Leopard tanks with crosses on them."
From there, Putin noted how Stalingrad's history has become a symbol of the "indestructible nature" of the Russian people.
"Those who draw European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia, and ... expect to win a victory over Russia on the battlefield, apparently don't understand that a modern war with Russia will be quite different for them," said Putin.
He then added: "Readiness to go until the end, to do the impossible for the sake of the motherland, for the sake of truth was and is in the blood, in the character of our multinational people."
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