A senior Russian official said Tuesday that Russia is “strong enough” to defeat NATO countries who are assisting Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing military invasion. The official also reaffirmed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s commitment to conquerer Eastern Ukrainian territories.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation directly under Putin, accused NATO of “openly fighting” against Russia and vowed enemies of Russia would be “vanquished” in a post on Telegram Tuesday.
“The entire NATO system is almost openly fighting against us. We are strong enough to achieve all of the goals of the special military operation,” Putin’s deputy wrote according to a translation. He also compared the current occupation of Ukraine to Moscow’s invasion of neighboring Georgia in 2008.
He added, “Just like in August 2008, our enemies will be vanquished and Russia will secure peace on its own terms. Victory will be ours!”
NATO has 31 member countries, with Finland being added earlier this year. Some NATO members include the U.S., U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland and Portugal.
Ukraine is seeking to join NATO and received a pathway to membership. Still, world leaders said the country would only be added after its war with Russia ends, as membership requires NATO countries to also declare war on Russia.
Medvedev’s comments come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced early Tuesday that he had a phone call with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of Netherlands, also a NATO member.
“I am grateful for the accession of the Netherlands to the G7 Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine. We discussed future bilateral security guarantees in the framework of this declaration, which should be based on the key role of the Netherlands in the coalition of fighter jets,” Zelenskyy said.
He added, “I spoke about the situation on the battlefield and outlined the current defense needs, including artillery, armored vehicles, and air defense systems to protect the infrastructure of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”
The comments also come as Russia launched a “double tap” missile strike into the downtown area of the Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk Monday evening, leaving at least seven dead. The deceased included five civilians, one rescue worker and one soldier.
At least 39 victims were left injured in the attack.
The “double tap” attack — or striking an area twice within a short period — specifically targeted rescue workers in the war, Ukrainian officials said.
Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said a barrage of Iskander missiles struck the city. About 40 minutes later, another barrage struck as rescue workers were tending to the victims of the first attack.
“All of (the police) were there because they were needed, putting their efforts into rescuing people after the first strike,” Ivan Vyhivskyi, chief of Ukraine’s National Police, said Tuesday. “They knew that under the rubble were the injured — they needed to react, to dig, to retrieve, to save. And the enemy deliberately struck the second time.”
Russia’s military has used “double tap” attacks with missiles, drones or artillery throughout its invasion of Ukraine. It used the same tactic when fighting in Syria’s civil war.
The head of the Pokrovsk City Administration, Serhii Dobriak, described the attacks on Pokrovsk as “a typical Russian scenario: 30-40 minutes between missiles.”
“When rescuers come to save people’s lives, another rocket arrives. And the number of casualties increases,” he said in a video comment to local media.
Ukraine’s presidential office said Russia launched separate attacks overnight on the town of Kruhliakivka, leaving three civilians dead, and on a village near Kupiansk, killing two civilians.
Russia first invaded its neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The invasion crossed 530 days earlier this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.