"The cost of being presented as a 'responsible and serious candidate' by the media [is] usually to show fundamental agreement with the existing distribution of wealth and power." -- Michael Lerner, from the book The Politics of Meaning, 1997, p99

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Western officials indulging in escalatory rhetoric should realize that they are effectively invoking the specter of an all-out nuclear war, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned in a speech to legislators in Moscow on Thursday. He also once again accused the West of instigating the Ukraine conflict.

Putin addressed the topic in the opening minutes of his annual state-of-the-nation speech, a key event in which the president declares his plans and priorities in a televised address to both houses of the Federal Assembly of Russia, the national legislature.

"If Ukraine joins NATO, you won’t even have time to blink your eye when you execute Article 5," Putin said, which suggests that possibly a nuclear response could be on the table.

In the wake of French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments about Western countries not ruling out sending troops to Ukraine, a European official speaking to Financial Times pointed out that Western special operations forces are already in the country.

“Everyone knows there are Western special forces in Ukraine — they’ve just not acknowledged it officially,” a senior European defense official said.

Washington must prevent foreign courts and activists from vetoing U.S. national security and military decisions, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote to Lloyd Austin, the U.S. defense secretary.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that EU nations have only managed to deliver 30 per cent of their pledged artillery shells, once again underscoring the hapless state of Europe’s military capabilities.

Italy is “not at war with Russia” and has no plans to send troops to Ukraine, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani clarified on Tuesday.

The remarks were part of a wave of denial from NATO nations about harboring any plans to deploy troops on behalf of Kiev in its fight against Moscow. Italy’s continuing support for Ukraine does not include such an option, Tajani insisted.

“When we talk about sending troops, we must be very cautious because we must not make people think we are at war with Russia,” he explained.

Across the European Union, farmers are rising up against the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which subsidizes them. Governments are responding with adjustment measures, bureaucratic simplifications and a few words of comfort. In reality, they are powerless in the face of a structure designed to apply an ideology that is proving to be insane.

French President Emmanuel Macron's statement on the possibility of sending troops from European NATO member states to Ukraine may lead to an increased outflow of capital from Europe, primarily to the US, a source in financial circles of Brussels told TASS.

"This is a signal about the increased risk of long-term investments in the European economy, and it will contribute to further capital outflow from Europe. First of all to the US," the source said.