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.
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.
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
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.’
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.’
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