‘It’s not a bluff’: Putin threatens to use ‘weapons of destruction’ and accuses West of ‘nuclear blackmail’
Vladimir Putin has threatened to use weapons of mass destruction against the West as he announced a partial military mobilization in the escalating war against Ukraine.
In a speech to his country, the Russian president warned that he would use “all means” at his disposal to “protect” his country from what he claimed was “nuclear blackmail”.
“This is not bluff,” he added.
Russia has been facing battlefield setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine, and the partial mobilization announced on Wednesday means military reservists will now be called up to fight.
Mr Putin claimed the move was “fully sufficient to meet the threats we face, namely to protect our homeland, sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
In his address to the nation, he warned that he would prepare to turn to weapons of mass destruction as he accused Western leaders of threatening his country.
Putin said that “some high-level representatives of major NATO countries have issued statements on the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia”.
“For those who allow themselves to speak out about Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has all kinds of sabotage and is independent and more modern than that of NATO countries,” he said.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, in order to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all means at our disposal,” the Russian president added.
When asked about the threats on Wednesday, a British foreign minister said the comments were “quite worrying”.
“It’s something we should take very seriously, because you know, we can’t control it. I’m also not sure if he can really control it,” Gillian Keegan said.
“I mean, it’s obviously an escalation, and of course for the Russian people, they’re going to be drafted into this war now.”
The Russian leader’s televised address to the nation came a day after the Russian-controlled eastern and southern regions of Ukraine announced plans to vote on becoming an integral part of Russia.
A Kremlin-backed effort to annex four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war after its success in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Russia’s plans to hold a referendum in the occupied region as “noise” and thanked Ukrainian allies for condemning the vote scheduled to begin on Friday.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press