Putin's Nuclear Weapons Warnings Are "Chilling", UK Foreign Minister Says
Vladimir Putin’s threats to the West are “chilling” a foreign office minister has said (Alamy)
Vladimir Putin’s threats to the West that he holds “lots of weapons” and is not bluffing about using them in his invasion of Ukraine are “chilling”, Foreign Office minister Gillian Keegan has said.
Keegan reiterated the UK's “unwavering” support for Ukraine after the Russian president used a televised address this morning to announce a partial mobilisation of forces calling in reservists, and accused the West of engaging in nuclear blackmail against Russia.
“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to defend Russia and our people, we will use all means we have, this is not a bluff," Putin said, according to the BBC.
"The territorial integrity of our motherland, our independence and freedom will be secured, I repeat with all the means we have.
"Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.”
His comments come as Ukrainian forces appear to have made significant advances in recent weeks. A number of Russia-occupied regions of Ukraine will hold so-called "referendums" in the coming days on whether or not they should officially join Russia.
Keegan descrived the threats as “chilling”, but added that while it was certainly a "serious threat," it was not one Putin had not made before.
“Over the last couple of weeks, the Russian military have lost significant ground to the Ukrainians and I guess that's caused, perhaps this speech today," she told BBC Breakfast.
“But yes, it's a serious threat but one that's been made before but let us be clear, it doesn't change our stance," she continued. “We're still unwavering in our support for Ukraine.”
Keegan had earlier urged for “calm” but said that some of the language used by Putin was “quite concerning”.
"It's something that we should take very seriously because we're not in control. I'm not sure he's in control either, really," she told Sky News.
“This is obviously an escalation and of course for the Russian people now they will be conscripted into this war.”
In June, the former head of the Navy accused the government of a repeated failure to spend enough on defence, and believes this has increased the chances of nuclear war with Russia.
Lord West of Spithead, the former First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, told PoliticsHome that increases to defence spending were essential "should things turn nasty" with Russia across Europe following Putin's brutal invasion of Ukraine.
"Should there suddenly be a world war, if you haven't got the conventional forces available to fight properly you go pretty quickly to nuclear, and I don't think that helps any of us," he added.
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