WORLD NEWS

Putin warns again that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty is threatened

Mar 13, 2024, 8:14 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with Rossiya Segodnya International Med...

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with Rossiya Segodnya International Media Group Director General Dmitry Kiselev, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 12, 2024. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

(Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty or independence is threatened, issuing another blunt warning to the West just days ahead of an election in which he’s all but certain to secure another six-year term.

The Russian leader has repeatedly talked about his readiness to use nuclear weapons since invading Ukraine in February 2022. The most recent such threat came in his state-of-the-nation address last month, when he warned the West that deepening its involvement in the fighting in Ukraine would risk a nuclear war.

Asked in an interview with Russian state television released early Wednesday if he has ever considered using battlefield nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Putin responded that there has been no need for that. He also noted that he doesn’t think that the world is heading for a nuclear war, describing U.S. President Joe Biden as a veteran politician who fully understands possible dangers of escalation.

Still, the remarks appeared to be a message to the West that he is prepared to use all means to protect his gains in Ukraine.

Putin said that in line with the country’s security doctrine, Moscow is ready to use nuclear weapons in case of a threat to “the existence of the Russian state, our sovereignty and independence.”

“All that is written in our strategy, we haven’t changed it,” he said.

In an apparent reference to NATO allies that support Kyiv, he also declared that “the nations that say they have no red lines regarding Russia should realize that Russia won’t have any red lines regarding them either.”

Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, recently lamented that the West too often constrains itself with self-imposed “red lines” regarding Russia. He also welcomed a comment by French President Emmanuel Macron that the possibility of Western troops being sent to Ukraine could not be ruled out.

In the wake of recent battlefield gains, Putin argued that Kyiv and its Western allies will eventually have to accept a deal to end the war on Russian terms.

“It shouldn’t be a break for the enemy to rearm but a serious talk involving the guarantees of security for the Russian Federation,” he said.

Putin said that a recent spike in Ukrainian drone attacks deep inside Russia is part of efforts to derail the country’s three-day presidential election, which starts Friday and which he is set to win by a landslide, given his near total crackdown on dissent and tight control over Russia’s political system.

Russian authorities reported another major attack by Ukrainian drones early Wednesday. The Defense Ministry said air defenses downed 58 drones over six regions. One of the drones hit an oil refinery in the Ryazan region, injuring at least two people and sparking a fire. Another was downed as it was approaching a refinery near St. Petersburg.

Ukraine, meanwhile, reported more Russian attacks early Wednesday.

A Russian strike killed two people and wounded another five in the town of Myrnohrad in the eastern region of Donetsk, about 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) from the front line, according to Gov. Vadym Filashkin. Local rescuers managed to pull a 13-year-old girl out of the rubble of an apartment building.

A five-story building in the northern city of Sumy was struck by a drone launched from Russia overnight and 10 people were rescued from the rubble, including eight who sustained injuries, according to the regional administration.

In President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown, the death toll from a Russian missile attack the previous night rose to four, said Gov. Serhii Lysak. He said that 43 people were wounded in of Kryvyi Rih, including 12 children, the youngest of them two and eleven-month-old.

“Every day our cities and villages suffer similar attacks. Every day Ukraine loses people because of Russian evil,” Zelenskyy said.

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Putin warns again that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty is threatened