One of Vladimir Putin’s closest cronies claims Russia could destroy all NATO countries ‘in half a hour’.
NATO is waging a war against us,’ said the former deputy premier of the 30-state Western military alliance.
‘They didn’t announce it, but that doesn’t change anything. Now it’s obvious to everyone.’
The hardliner, 58, said: ‘In a nuclear war, NATO countries will be destroyed by us in half an hour.
‘But we must not allow it, because the consequences of the exchange of nuclear strikes will affect the state of our Earth.
‘Therefore, we will have to defeat this economically and militarily more powerful enemy with conventional armed means.’
He hinted that Putin would put Russia on a war footing amid speculation that a mass mobilisation is on the cards to bolster his flagging war effort.
‘Such a victory is possible with the full solidarity of the whole country with the army, the mobilisation of the state economy.’
Industry must be immediately forced to serve military objectives, he said.
‘This must be done immediately and quickly,’ he said.
Rogozin’s statements came as the final dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s Victory Day parade in Moscow saw nuclear weapons wheeled through the Red Square just metres away from the Kremlin.
Using a word that Putin has banned in relation to Ukraine – ‘war’ – he said: ‘This is a war for the truth – and the right of Russia to exist as a single and independent state.’
He insisted: ‘The very existence of a Ukraine separate from Russia will inevitably turn it into anti-Russia and a springboard of the West for aggression against our people.
‘That is why what we call a Special Military Operation goes far beyond its original meaning and geography.’
He did not say which other territory Putin was eyeing beyond Ukraine.
But he claimed NATO was engaged in a proxy war using Ukrainian soldiers to fight without putting their own forces in harm’s way.
‘The armed forces of Ukraine are expendable cannon fodder for NATO,’ he said.
‘They are only operators trained by NATO instructors who push the levers and buttons of NATO weapons.’
However, Rogozin contradicted Putin by saying ‘we are not fighting the Nazis in Ukraine’.
He said: ‘We are liberating Ukraine from NATO occupation and pushing the worst enemy away from our western borders.’
Rogozin’s blast against the West and Ukraine came after he highlighted that British YouTuber Benjamin Rich, who has over 3.5million subscribers, was detained at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan – implying he might have been spying.
Rich was with his Belarusian girlfriend Alina Zelupa.
Rogozin twisted her family name to give it a rude meaning, and claimed the extent of their illegal activities was being established.
‘Basically, I was questioned by Russian police for a few hours for going to see the Buran rocket without the special permission and given a 60-pound administrative fine just like hundreds of foreign adventurers before me.’
Meanwhile, Rogozin’s warning that the world must avoid nuclear war came as thermonuclear weapons were rolled through Moscow’s Red Square as Russia gears up for its Victory Day parade tomorrow to commemorate the former Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
The intercontinental weapon, which weighs 49.6 tonnes, can travel up to 24,500km/hr and is capable of hitting targets up to 12,000km away – meaning it could strike London or New York within minutes.
The weapon of mass destruction was followed closely by several Iskander-M missile launchers, as men and women marched outside the Kremlin dressed in military garb, waving Russian flags and performing salutes.
Eight MiG-29 fighters also flew past in a ‘Z’ formation – the insignia used by Putin’s military as a symbol of its military action in Ukraine, which critics have likened to the swastika used by the Nazis.
The rehearsal unfolded as the Ukraine-based Centre for Defence Strategies said that 500 captured fighters supporting Ukraine could be ‘forced to go through Red Square for cameras’, according to The Times.
Three British fighters could be among the 500 after Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, were captured by Russian forces in Mariupol last month as they fought alongside Ukrainian defenders.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today released a rousing video on the eve of Russia’s ‘Victory Day’ celebrations tomorrow, declaring that ‘no evil will avoid responsibility’ and proclaiming that Ukraine will emerge victorious from the war.
His declaration coincides with Victory in Europe Day (VE Day), when many European countries commemorate the unconditional surrender of Nazi forces on May 8, 1945, marking the Allied victory in WWII.
‘Every year on May 8, along with the entire civilised world, we honour those who defended the planet from Nazism in World War Two… But we have not made it even a century. Our ‘never again’ lasted only 77 years. Evil has been reborn,’ the President declared as he stood in front of a residential tower block building destroyed by Russian shelling.
‘Despite the beast’s new mask, [Ukraine and its allies] have recognised him. Because, unlike some, they understand what our ancestors fought for, and against.’
‘Our ancestors proved that no evil can avoid responsibility. It will not be able to hide in the bunker. There will be no stone left of it.
‘So we will overcome everything, and we know this for sure because our military and all our people are the descendants of those who overcame Nazism.
‘They will win again and there will be peace again.’