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Ukraine war: Putin suggest he will use nukes ‘if necessary’

Ukraine war: Putin suggest he will use nukes 'if necessary' 2

Vladimir Putin has vowed to use nuclear weapons against any country that dares to  ‘interfere’ with Russia’s war in Ukraine in his latest chilling threat to the West.

The despot, addressing legislators in St Petersburg today, said his response to anyone who ‘threatens’ Russia will be ‘lightning-fast’ and deadly.

‘If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside they must know that constitutes an unacceptable strategic threat to Russia. They must know that our response to counter strikes will be lightning fast. Fast,’ he said.

‘We have all the weapons we need for this. No one else can brag about these weapons, and we won’t brag about them. But we will use them.’ 

Though Putin did not mention nuclear weapons directly, he was almost certainly referring to Russia’s new Sarmat 2 nuclear missile which was tested for the first time just days ago and that he boasted is unlike any other weapon in the world.   

Vladimir Putin warned today that any country that interferes in Ukraine will pose a threat to Russia, and that he will not hesitate to use nuke to counter that threat

Vladimir Putin warned today that any country that interferes in Ukraine will pose a threat to Russia, and that he will not hesitate to use nuke to counter that threat

Putin did not mention nukes directly, but spoke of weapons that 'no one else can brag about' - almost certainly a reference to the Sarmat 2 nuke Russia tested last week

Putin did not mention nukes directly, but spoke of weapons that ‘no one else can brag about’ – almost certainly a reference to the Sarmat 2 nuke Russia tested last week

Putin made the threat during an address to lawmakers in which he spoke at length about the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine – promising once again that ‘all objectives will definitely be carried out’ by his ‘heroic’ military. 

He praised Russian troops, who he said were fighting to ‘prevent a large-scale conflict’ of exactly the kind he stands accused of causing.

He again repeated unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine was seeking to possess nuclear weapons itself or develop biological weapons, which he said posed ‘a real threat [to] our motherland.’

‘All that confirms our reaction was timely and correct,’ he said. 

Railing against Western ‘fascists’, he added: ‘For years they turned our neighbouring Ukraine into an anti-Russia. 

‘Let me remind you that Russia was always sympathetic and acted as a friend and as a comrade and as a brother, it viewed the creation of the independent Ukrainian state – at the time we thought this would be a friendly state.

‘We would develop together and strengthen each-other and create the best conditions for our competition and development and of course we didn’t expect they would create anti-Russian on that territory. We cannot allow this.’

He said the West was trying to back the Russian ‘bear’ into a corner but had ‘failed’ in their attempts to divide the country.

It is hardly the first time that Putin has threatened the West with nukes over the war in Ukraine, though the threats have become more frequent as the tide of war has turned against Russia’s military.

On Monday, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Russia is now fighting a proxy-war with the whole of NATO and the risk of it turning nuclear is ‘real’.

Speaking to state TV, Lavrov said the current situation is worse than the Cuban missile crisis at the height of the Cold War because of a complete break-down in relations between the two sides.

Asked directly about the possibility of a nuclear war, he said: ‘The risks are very significant. I do not want the danger to be artificially inflated [but] it is serious, real. It cannot be underestimated.’

A Russian ammunition dump near the village of Staraya Nelidovka, in the Belgorod region, burns after what is widely thought to have been a Ukrainian air strike

A Russian ammunition dump near the village of Staraya Nelidovka, in the Belgorod region, burns after what is widely thought to have been a Ukrainian air strike

Anti-air defences are filmed shooting a target out of the sky over the Belgorod region of Russia as Ukraine continues to target military facilities reinforcing Moscow's troops in the east

Anti-air defences are filmed shooting a target out of the sky over the Belgorod region of Russia as Ukraine continues to target military facilities reinforcing Moscow’s troops in the east 

Maria Zakharova, spokesman for the foreign ministry, then issued a threat to strike NATO countries supplying arms to Ukraine – with the UK among those leading weapons deliveries.

‘Do we understand correctly that for the sake of disrupting the logistics of military supplies, Russia can strike military targets on the territory of those NATO countries that supply arms to the Kyiv regime,’ she asked.

‘After all, this directly leads to deaths and bloodshed on Ukrainian territory. As far as I understand, Britain is one of those countries.’

Earlier today, Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov directly threatened the UK with nukes – saying that ‘one Sarmat missile means minus one Great Britain.’

He appeared to suggest nukes should be used because Britain has become ‘totally boorish’ – evidently a reference to its vocal support for Ukraine.

But UK armed forces minister James Heappey dismissed the comments as ‘bravado’, saying he sees no imminent threat of nuclear escalation.

‘Lavrov’s trademark over the course of 15 years or so that he has been the Russian foreign secretary has been that sort of bravado. I don’t think that right now there is an imminent threat of escalation,’ Heappey told BBC Television.

‘What the West is doing to support its allies in Ukraine is very well calibrated … Everything we do is calibrated to avoid direct confrontation with Russia.’

Never-the-less, 40 nations met in Germany yesterday to agree increased arms supplies to Ukraine after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed to provide Kyiv with everything it needs to ‘win’ the war.

Hammering home the message, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss will today urge the West to supply heavy weapons, tanks and warplanes to Ukraine as she pushes for higher defence spending.

In a speech this evening, the Foreign Secretary will call for arms production to be stepped up saying the battle against Vladimir Putin will be a ‘long haul’.

She is to insist that the NATO target for spending 2 per cent of GDP on military should be a ‘floor not a ceiling’

Off the back of those calls, Russia today cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, two European nations that rely heavily on fossil fuels for energy, in one of its boldest moves yet against Western sanctions.

Moscow said the ‘unfriendly’ countries were cut off after refusing its demands to pay for the gas in rubles, but Poland and Bulgaria said Russia was in breach of contracts it signed which stated the bill should be paid in dollars.

The Kremlin also suggested that other European countries who fail to agree to its demands could also be cut off.

Pictured: A map showing gas pipelines that enter Europe from Russia. Polish state-controlled gas utility company PGNiG today confirmed that Gazprom had 'completely suspended' the supply of gas to Poland via the Yamal pipeline (dark green)

Pictured: A map showing gas pipelines that enter Europe from Russia. Polish state-controlled gas utility company PGNiG today confirmed that Gazprom had ‘completely suspended’ the supply of gas to Poland via the Yamal pipeline (dark green)

Pictured: Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks during a news conference near the gas installation at a Gaz-System gas compressor station in Rembelszczyzna, outside Warsaw, Poland, April 27, 2022. Speaking to the Polish parliament, Morawiecki vowed that Poland would not be cowed by the gas cutoff. He said Poland was safe thanks to years of efforts aimed at securing gas from other countries

Pictured: Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks during a news conference near the gas installation at a Gaz-System gas compressor station in Rembelszczyzna, outside Warsaw, Poland, April 27, 2022. Speaking to the Polish parliament, Morawiecki vowed that Poland would not be cowed by the gas cutoff. He said Poland was safe thanks to years of efforts aimed at securing gas from other countries

EU diplomats said the Kremlin was attempting to ‘blackmail’ Europe away from its support for Ukraine, and vowed not to give in to the threat.

Poland and Bulgaria have both been stockpiling gas since the start of the year in expectation that supplies could dry up, and today sought to reassure their populations that their energy is secure.

The European Union said it could impose a crude oil embargo on Russia, with the two having been locked in a stand-off for weeks .

The market reacted quickly to the decision by state-owned Gazprom. Benchmark European gas prices jumped by up to 24 per cent to €121 (£102) per megawatt-hour today, to hit their highest level this month and almost seven times higher than they were a year ago. The UK equivalent increased by 14 per cent to 180 pence per therm.

Russia is now more than two months into what was supposed to be a days-long ‘special military operation’ to topple the Ukrainian government and install a puppet regime loyal to Moscow.

Ahead of the war, most experts and observers predicted Ukraine’s military would survive only a few days or weeks against the onslaught, but troops have defied the doubters and remain in control of most of the country 62 days later.

Having failed in its aim of taking Kyiv, Russia is now concentrating its forces in the east in the hopes of seizing control of the Donbas region and encircling a large part of Ukraine’s ground forces.

Moscow’s generals have also said their aim is to push out from Kherson – on the Black Sea coast and the only major city to fall to Putin’s forces so far – and capture Mykolaiv and Odesa, cutting Ukraine off from the ocean.

The early stages of that plan seemed to be underway on Tuesday with a series of blasts in Transnistria – a breakaway region of Moldova close to Odesa where Russia has stationed troops – which were blamed on Ukraine.

Transnistria’s government raised the terror alert level and said it would have to consider steps to shore up its security after the attacks, which are widely thought to have been false flags aimed at justifying Russian intervention.

Forced on to the defensive during the early weeks, Ukraine has been increasingly going on the offensive – attacking targets inside Russia with some regularity.

Just this morning, an ammunition depot caught fire in Belgorod, sending flames and smoke rising into the skies over Staraya Nelidovka.

Air defences were active over neighbouring Kursk and Voronezh regions as Russia said it had shot down Ukrainian drones that entered its territory.

Without directly admitting responsibility, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said it was ‘karma’ for Russia and said they deserved to learn about ‘demilitarisation’ in a pointed swipe at Putin’s supposed war aims.

An Ukrainian tank drives through obstacles on a road near Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, today amid the Russian invasion

An Ukrainian tank drives through obstacles on a road near Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, today amid the Russian invasion

‘If you decide to massively attack another country, massively kill everyone there, massively crush peaceful people with tanks, and use warehouses in your regions to enable the killings, then sooner or later the debts will have to be repaid,’ Podolyak said.

He added: ‘Therefore, the disarmament of the Belgorod and Voronezh killers’ warehouses is an absolutely natural process. Karma is a cruel thing.’

Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, said on Telegram: ‘At approximately 3.35am I woke up from a loud bang that sounded like a blast.

‘As I was writing this post, three more blasts were heard. According to preliminary information, an ammunition depot is on fire near the village of Staraya Nelidovka.’

No civilian casualties were reported.

Meanwhile residents of Voronezh, which is more than 100 miles from the Ukraine border, reported two explosions to the south-west of the city overnight.

Video taken in the dawn hours showed what appeared to be the white exhaust trail of an air defence missile crossing the sky, with an impact cloud hanging in the air.

RIA Novosti, Russia’s main state news wire, later claimed that a reconnaissance drone had been shot down.

Explosions were also heard near the city of Kursk, around 60 miles from the border, with video seeming to show flames glowing against a darkened sky.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that more drones had been shot down over the town of Oboyan, to the south of Kursk city.

‘There are no casualties or destruction,’ Kursk governor Roman Starovoyt said.

The strikes come off the back of a series of explosions within Russia targeting military bases and infrastructure that are widely thought to be coming from Kyiv.

Belgorod has been the most heavily targeted, with missile strikes and a helicopter raid targeting fuel and ammunition dumps.

A railway bridge was also targeted in the same region in what is widely suspected to have been a sabotage attack by Ukrainian special forces.

Belgorod is a key staging point for Russian forces heading to join the fight in Ukraine’s Donbas region, where a major offensive to seize the eastern part of Ukraine is currently underway.

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