Cape Times

‘Russia ready for nuclear war’ – Putin

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PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin warned the West yesterday that Russia was technicall­y ready for nuclear war and that if the US sent troops to Ukraine, it would be considered a significan­t escalation of the conflict.

Putin, speaking just days before a March 15-17 election which is certain to give him another six years in power, said the nuclear war scenario was not “rushing” up and he saw no need for the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

“From a military-technical point of view, we are, of course, ready,” said Putin, 71, in response to a question on whether the country was really ready for a nuclear war.

Putin said the US understood that if it deployed American troops on Russian territory, or to Ukraine, Russia would treat the move as an interventi­on. “(In the US) there are enough specialist­s in the field of Russian-American relations and in the field of strategic restraint,” said Putin, the ultimate decision maker in the world’s biggest nuclear power. “Therefore, I don’t think that here everything is rushing to it (nuclear confrontat­ion), but we are ready for this.”

Putin’s nuclear warning came alongside another offer for talks on Ukraine as part of a new post-Cold War demarcatio­n of European security. The US says Putin is not ready for serious talks over Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has triggered the deepest crisis in Russia’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and Putin has warned

several times the West risks provoking a nuclear war if it sends troops to fight in Ukraine.

Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, triggering full-scale war after eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces on one side and pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian proxies on the other.

In a US election year, the West is grappling with how to support Kyiv against Russia, which now controls almost one-fifth of Ukrainian territory and is rearming much faster than the West and Ukraine.

Kyiv says it is defending itself against an imperial-style war of conquest designed to erase its national identity. Russia says the areas it controls in Ukraine are now Russia.

Putin has sent a series of public nuclear warnings to the US aimed at discouragi­ng greater involvemen­t in Ukraine – a move the Kremlin says would mark a slide into world war.

Washington says it has seen no major changes to Russia’s nuclear posture but Putin’s public nuclear warnings – which break with the extreme

caution of the Soviet leadership over such remarks – have sown concern in Washington.

Putin reiterated the use of nuclear weapons was spelled out in the Kremlin’s nuclear doctrine, which sets out the conditions under which it would use such a weapon: broadly a response to an attack using nuclear or other weapons of mass destructio­n, or the use of convention­al weapons against Russia “when the very existence of the state is put under threat”.

The administra­tion of US President Joe Biden was reportedly specifical­ly concerned in 2022 that Russia might use a tactical or battlefiel­d nuclear weapon in Ukraine. Putin said he had never felt the need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Putin said Russia was ready for serious talks on Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine struck Russian oil refineries in a second day of heavy drone attacks yesterday, causing a fire at Rosneft’s biggest refinery in what Putin said was an attempt to disrupt his country’s presidenti­al election.

Russia and Ukraine have both used drones to strike critical infrastruc­ture and military installati­ons.

 ?? | Reuters ?? RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin during an interview in Moscow this week.
| Reuters RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin during an interview in Moscow this week.

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