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Russia's former president is calling for a 'maximum reward' bounty to be put on the heads of any NATO troops sent to Ukraine

Matthew Loh   

Russia's former president is calling for a 'maximum reward' bounty to be put on the heads of any NATO troops sent to Ukraine
  • Dmitry Medvedev is calling for a "maximum reward" for whoever kills NATO fighters in Ukraine.
  • In a social-media outburst on Thursday, he painted a scenario in which NATO was sending troops to aid Kyiv.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev launched a scathing verbal attack against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Thursday, calling for a bounty on any Western troops that enter Ukraine.

"There can only be one rule for these overseas lice, who, unlike the unfortunate Ukrainians, were not forced to go to war: no prisoners taken!" Medvedev, who's now the deputy chair of Russia's Security Council, wrote in a post on X.

"And for each NATO fighter killed, blown-up, or burned, there must be a maximum reward," he added.

Medvedev railed against a hypothetical scenario that he posited himself, in which NATO would initially deploy troops and special forces in Western Ukraine for "housekeeping and organizing; training," as he put it.

"Just totally brazen brutes who hold all the world for fools!" Medvedev wrote.

The Russian official said any NATO forces in Ukraine would be considered part of the "regular forces" fighting against Moscow.

"Which is why they can only be treated as enemies; and not just enemies, but as elite detachments, Hitler's SS punishers," he continued.

Medvedev's rhetoric hits various talking points typically used by the Kremlin. Moscow often leans on the nostalgia of the Soviet Union's fight against Nazi Germany in World War II, accusing Ukraine of being a Nazi-ruled state as a justification for its invasion.

Russia has also repeatedly stepped up talk of direct conflict with NATO, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying it would inevitably lead to a third world war and nuclear catastrophe.

Key to that rhetoric has been Russia amplifying the idea that NATO may escalate tensions by sending troops to Ukraine. Putin, after all, has portrayed his invasion as a move to curb NATO aggression.

As for Medvedev, the former Russian president has been staunchly pro-war since the invasion began, broadcasting aggressive suggestions such as firing a hypersonic missile at The Hague over an arrest warrant issued against Putin.

So far, NATO leaders say they haven't officially deployed troops in Ukraine to fight. But some — such as French President Emmanuel Macron — have hinted at such a possibility or even advocated for it.

"We don't have any plans of having any NATO combat troops inside Ukraine," NATO's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, told reporters on Wednesday. "There have been no requests for that."

There are some hints of NATO fielding a small presence in Ukraine. In early 2023, leaked classified documents from the Pentagon said nearly 100 NATO operators were at one point sent to Ukraine, including 14 members of US special forces.

But the same leaks have also been approached with caution by the global intelligence community over concerns that the information inside the documents may be disingenuous or have been tampered with. US officials said no American troops had been involved in combat in Ukraine.

NATO is also teaching Ukrainians to use the arsenal of Western-made weapons sent to Kyiv, and it's unclear whether these special operations forces may have been deployed in Ukraine for training or in advisory roles.

On March 8, Poland's foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, said NATO troops were "already present in Ukraine" but didn't say how many were deployed or for what purpose.

"These countries know who they are, but I can't disclose them. Contrary to other politicians, I will not list those countries," Sikorski said.

Russia jumped on Sikorski's statement, with the spokesperson Maria Zakharova saying there was "no point in denying it any longer" that NATO was fielding troops in Ukraine.

Yet what really set Medvedev off were Macron's recent comments on NATO possibly joining the fight. In the past two months, the French leader has repeated that his allies shouldn't rule out deploying troops in Ukraine.

"What we are doing is giving ourselves red lines," he said.

In response, Medvedev has written multiple social-media posts — some in French — insulting Macron or criticizing him vehemently.

"But what a good thing, on the other hand! With so many coffins arriving in France from a foreign country, it would be impossible to cover up the mass deaths of professional soldiers," Medvedev wrote on March 20.

Medvedev's current tirade-prone posture seems a significant departure from when he was president of Russia from 2008 to 2012, with some observers hoping he'd be pro-West and more liberal.

Experts in Russian politics previously told Business Insider's Sinead Baker that the former leader might be trying to overcompensate with his rhetoric to curry favor with Putin.

Edward Lucas, a senior advisor at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said: "Medvedev is like one of the weaker guys in Tony Soprano's circles, who just has to go and do horrible things to appease the boss."

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