Putin warns of 'lightning quick' retaliation in chilling nuclear warning to West
VLADIMIR PUTIN has issued a chilling warning to the West that there will be a "lightning-quick" response if any country threatens Russia or interferes in its invasion of Ukraine.
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The Russian President said any countries attempting to “meddle” in the Ukraine conflict would face a swift response from Russia.
Addressing Russian lawmakers in St Petersburg in a televised address, he said: “If anyone decides to meddle in ongoing events and create unacceptable strategic threats for Russia, they must know our response will be lightning-quick."
The Russian leader said that Moscow would not hesitate to use the most modern weaponry in its arsenal.
He said: “We have all the instruments for this, ones nobody else can boast of. And we will use them, if we have to.”
He added: "We have already taken all the decisions on this."
His speech has been taken as another hint at a possible nuclear attack, after Russia recently tested hypersonic and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear payloads.
Putin also accused the West of pushing Ukraine into conflict and using Ukrainian civilians as “expendable materials”.
The despot also said the West’s plan to tighten economic sanctions on his country had failed and promised retaliation against efforts to isolate Russia.
He insisted that the rouble, banking system, transport sector and economy as a whole had weathered sanctions imposed by the West since the start of the invasion on February 24.
However, Russia's economy ministry expects gross domestic product to shrink by 8.8 percent in 2022 in its base case scenario, or by 12.4 percent under a more conservative scenario, a document seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday, suggesting that sanctions against Moscow are taking a toll.
Putin earlier told Russian lawmakers that Moscow's so-called “special operation” in Ukraine had been going to plan despite reports that Kremlin troops have been struggling to make gains on the battlefield in recent weeks.
He added: “Our soldiers and officers have prevented a real threat which was hanging over our motherland.
“Their courage and heroism prevented as large scale conflict which would have spread on our territory.”
Putin told Russia’s parliament that the goals of the country’s invasion of Ukraine would be “unconditionally fulfilled”.
He said: “I want to emphasize again that all the tasks of the special military operation we are conducting in the Donbas and Ukraine, launched on February 24 will be unconditionally fulfilled.”
He claimed this would “guarantee the security of the residents” of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine that Russia recognized as independent shortly before launching its military action in Ukraine.
The Russian leader accused the West of trying to engineer the break up of Russia. He claimed western countries were using Ukraine as a platform to attack Moscow through the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, and the separatist-held Donbas border region.
He said: “The countries that have historically tried to contain Russia don’t need a self-sufficient, massive country such as ours.
“They think that it is dangerous to them just by means of its existence. But that’s far from the truth. They are the ones threatening the whole world.”
President Putin was speaking shortly after the Russian government announced sanctions against 287 current and former British MPs, accusing them of fuelling “unwarranted Russophobic hysteria” after the invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the sanctions were in response to restrictions imposed on 386 members of the Duma on March 11.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the sanctions as a “badge of honour” for the politicians, which includes a number of former MPs such as Rory Stewart and Justine Greening.
The news came after the United States hosted a meeting of 40 allies in Germany on Tuesday to coordinate long-term military aid for Ukraine as Russia steps up attacks on the east of the country.