President Vladimir Putin Photo: MGN Online

President Vladimir Putin has warned the U.S.-led Western camp against the world-spanning consequence of a conflict between Russia and NATO. “It is clear to everyone that this will be one step away from a full-scale World War Three. I think hardly anyone is interested in this,” Putin said.

The Russian leader was talking to reporters on March 17 evening, after his re-election for a new term of six years as president.

“Everything is possible in the modern world,” Putin said when asked about French President Emmanuel Macron’s remarks in February about sending troops to Ukraine and the risks of a conflict between Russia and NATO.

The Russian leader said he wished Macron would stop seeking to aggravate the war in Ukraine but to play a role in finding peace. “It seems that France could play a role. All is not lost yet.”


Putin said NATO military personnel were presently active in Ukraine, and that Russian forces had picked up transmissions both in English and French on the warfront. “There is nothing good in this, first of all for them, because they are dying there and in large numbers.”

Putin was asked if he considered it necessary to take over Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. He said if the attacks continued, Russia would create a buffer zone out of more Ukrainian territory to defend the Russian territory.

“I do not exclude that, bearing in mind the tragic events taking place today; we will be forced at some point, when we deem it appropriate, to create a certain ‘sanitary zone’ in the territories today under the Kiev regime.”

‘Russia is for peace talks’

Putin also reiterated Russia’s view on peace and stability in the region.

“I’ve been saying it over and over again and I’ll say it again. We are for peace talks, but not just because the enemy is running out of bullets.” 

The Russian president said Moscow’s willingness to establish peace rested on one condition: “If they really, seriously, want to build peaceful, good-neighborly relations between the two states in the long term, and not simply take a break for rearmament for 1.5-2 years.”

On the election in Russia, Putin dismissed allegations of vote rigging. He censured the United States and certain other Western countries for labeling the Russian presidential race not free and fair.

The Russian leader underscored the geopolitical fault lines that have gaped wider since Moscow launched its special military operation in Donbas in 2022. Putin said it was the deepest crisis in diplomatic relations with the West since the end of the Cold War.

‘No democracy’

Putin commented on the election process in the United States, criticizing the misappropriation of state power over the course of elections. “The whole world is laughing at what is happening there.”

“It is just a catastrophe—it is not democracy—what on earth is it?”

Speaking in front of his supporters on the night of March 17, Putin said the “only source of power in the country is the Russian people,” adding that the vote of every citizen counts when it comes to charting the nation’s course.

“No matter who and how they would try to intimidate and suppress us, our will, our consciousness … nobody in our history has ever succeeded, won’t succeed now or in the future. Never.”

Putin thanked Russian citizens for the trust they placed in him. “I will do my best to solve the tasks set before the country and achieve the goals we all consider to be of the highest priority.”

The 2024 Russia election was marked by a record-high turnout. (