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IN BRIEF: Zelensky ‘a disgrace to the Jewish people,’ future of F-16s: Putin’s SPIEF Q&A

The President emphasized that Russia would not hold talks on nuclear arms reduction with the West

ST. PETERSBURG, June 16. /TASS/. Russia is capable of destroying any building in downtown Kiev but sees no reason to do that, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday in the question and answer portion of the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

The head of state noted that his Jewish friends viewed Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky as "a disgrace to the Jewish people." He pointed to the failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive and predicted that F-16 aircraft would end up burning like Leopard tanks.

TASS has put together Putin’s key answers.

On Ukrainian counteroffensive

The losses that Kiev is facing during its so-called counteroffensive are ten times greater than Moscow’s. The Ukrainian armed forces have already lost 186 tanks and 418 armored vehicles.

"The main thing is that [Kiev has achieved] no success in any area."

On future of F-16 jets

The F-16 fighter jets that the West may send to Ukraine will face the same fate as the tanks that were provided to the country. "The tanks are burning, <...> including Leopards. <...> F-16s will burn in the same way, there is no doubt about it."

"If they are deployed to air bases beyond Ukraine but get involved in military activities, we will have to figure out where and how we can hit the equipment that is being used against us in combat. This creates a serious risk of NATO being dragged further into the armed conflict."

On "buffer zone'

By trying to attack the Kremlin and the Belgorod Region, Kiev is provoking Russia to take "serious and strong retaliatory measures."

Russia can destroy any target in Kiev but sees no need to do so: "We destroyed five Patriot systems outside Kiev, so we would not have any problem wiping out any building in downtown Kiev. <...> We have the opportunity <...> but don’t have the need to do so."

If attacks on Russia’s border regions continue, Moscow would consider the possibility of creating "a buffer zone" in Ukraine.

On West’s role in Ukraine

The West seeks "to shift the responsibility" by accusing Russia of unleashing the conflict in Ukraine. "However, we are well aware of how it all began."

Moscow was forced to use the army to help Donbass "in a bid to end this armed conflict." Today, Western countries are doing "their best" to make Russia suffer a strategic defeat on the battlefield, while NATO "is being dragged into the war in Ukraine."

On nuclear weapons

Russia will not hold talks on nuclear arms reduction with the West: "No way!"

Russia has no need to use nuclear weapons but "in theory, it’s definitely possible" to use them: "It would be possible if there is a threat to our territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty, as well as to the existence of the Russian state."

The first batch of tactical nuclear warheads has already been delivered to Belarus. "We will fully complete this work by the end of the year."

On "margin of safety"

Unlike Ukraine, which will soon run out of military equipment, Russia is only increasing defense industry production. "Our defense industry is gaining momentum day by day." "This suggests that we have a great margin of safety."

On communication with US

"There is almost no communication" between Russia and the US but Moscow does not reject communication: "If anyone wishes to build dialogue with us, they are welcome."

"[US] President Biden is a grown man and an experienced politician. Who am I to teach him? Let him do as he sees fit. As for us, we will do what we believe is in line with the interests of Russia and the Russian people. Everyone will have to reckon with this."

On situation on oil market

OPEC+ decisions on reducing oil output aren’t politically motivated and have nothing to do with Russia’s special military operation: "They stem from economic feasibility both for producers and consumers. All in all, we have been able to balance the market through joint efforts."

The Russian oil price cap has negative consequences, particularly for Moscow, but on the whole, Russia is satisfied with the current oil prices, while discounts are minimal on certain markets.

On Zelensky

"Since I was a child, I have always had many Jewish friends. They say that Zelensky is not Jewish, but a disgrace to the Jewish people."