Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains Ukraine could be a nuclear threat to Russia.
Putin made his remarks Wednesday during a meeting about socioeconomic support for Russian citizens, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Putin, who claimed Russia has no desire to occupy Ukraine, said the former Soviet state is ruled by a neo-Nazi regime and could pose a nuclear threat to his nation, the news outlet reported.
He also repeated discredited theories that U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine could release pathogens on Russian citizens. In another debunked accusation, Putin said Ukraine has backed a genocidal campaign against ethnic Russians in an eastern region known as Donbas.
“We simply weren’t left with any options to peacefully solve the problems arising through no fault of ours,” Putin said, according to a translation of his remarks. And employing the term he has insisted his countrymen use in place of “war,” he added, “We were simply forced to launch a special military operation.”
Appearing to address challenges to his policies at home, Putin spoke of the need for “cleansing of the nation” against those who do not support his policies.
The Associated Press reported that Putin also appeared on television to blast those who fail to support him.
Russians “will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths,” he said. “I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country.”
Putin claimed a “fifth column” of traitorous Russians is being used by the West to spark civil unrest.
“And there is only one goal, I have already spoken about it — the destruction of Russia,” he said.
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