Putin was quick to up the ante on the potential nuclear element to the Ukraine war within days of the invasion beginning in February. Speaking to Russian lawmakers, Putin described the Kremlin’s response as “immediate” to any country which would attempt to “hinder” the invasion.
He added: “And it will lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
He described Russia as “one of the most powerful nuclear states”, with the “advantage in several cutting-edge weapons”.
Putin continued: “In this context, there should be no doubt for anyone that any potential aggressor will face defeat and ominous consequences should it directly attack our country.”
He then placed Moscow’s nuclear arsenal on high alert.
The period since the outbreak of the Ukraine war has been described as the highest point in international tensions since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Russia places the blame at the West’s door, saying NATO – a nuclear alliance – “is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy”.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said the once “unthinkable” idea of nuclear war was “back within the realm of possibility”.
However, the Russian leader appeared to rein in the nuclear talk, saying nuclear war “should never be unleashed”.
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“There’s no need to go further.
“Further lies the abyss of nuclear war.”
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has previously called the risk of nuclear war “serious” and “real”.
He said Russia was doing everything it could to prevent nuclear war.
He told Russian state TV: “This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable.”
He added: “I would not want to elevate those risks artificially.
“Many would like that. The danger is serious, real.
“And we must not underestimate it.”