Putin's mouthpiece threatens western world with nuclear strikes
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With his troops bogged down in a bloody conflict in Ukraine, initiated by his decision to invade on February 24, Putin’s bellicose rhetoric is being monitored carefully by the international community. Russia’s apparent preparedness to step outside the rules of war with the use of cluster bombs and the deliberate targeting of civilians have prompted speculation Putin could sanction the previously unthinkable.
Speaking today, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivan Nechaev downplayed the risks – while conspicuously refusing to rule out the possibility altogether.
He insisted nuclear weapons would only be used as a “response” measure – although he did not specify what circumstances would merit such a response.
He explained: “Russian military doctrine allows a nuclear response only in response to the threat of mass destruction, or when the very existence of the state is threatened.
“That is, the use of a nuclear arsenal is possible only as part of a response to an attack in self-defence and only in emergencies.”
At a previous briefing on Tuesday, Mr Nechaev described suggestions Russia would deploy nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine as “absolute lies”, insisting his country had “no need” to do so.
In an illustration of spiking tensions, Russia’s Defence Ministry today confirmed three MiG-31E warplanes equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles had been relocated to its Kaliningrad enclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania.
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State media outlet RIA quoted the ministry as saying the MiG jets would be on round-the-clock duty.
Earlier today, Finland’s Defence Ministry claimed two Russian MiG-31 jets had violated its airspace close to the city of Porvoo, on the Gulf of Finland, a mere 90 miles from Russia.
Both Finland and Sweden are on the verge of joining NATO in a move regarded with fear and anger in Moscow.
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Speaking to Express.co.uk in April, Tobias Ellwood MP, the Tory chairman of Parliament’s defence committee, warned the risk of nuclear conflict should not be “underestimated”.
He said: “There’s no doubt about it, that things are escalating, but we need to control the escalatory ladder.
“We need to make sure that we can lean into this in recognising the possible off-ramps to de-escalate but also have the self-confidence that we can step forward without events ratcheting out of control.
“The noise from the Kremlin is designed to spook us, and to make us think otherwise and effectively encourage us to do nothing, to be scared and for the first month or so, it succeeded.
“We were very timid in our initial response.”
Asked what the West’s long-term strategy should be, Mr Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, added: “Asked what the strategy should be more than two months since Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Mr Ellwood said: “It’s a really, really good question.
“Because my worry is that we’re piling military hardware into the country, increasing the quantity and the quality, but to what end?
“What are our objectives? That is the fundamental question that we need to ask.
“We have the NATO Summit coming up in June, and we need to confirm collectively what success looks like. Is it the removal of Russia completely from Ukraine, going back to pre 2014 levels? Or are we in the mindset to allow part of Donbas to remain in Russian hands?
“For me, absolutely it must be that Putin must lose and be seen to lose in Ukraine.”
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