Putin accuses the West of nuclear blackmail
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of nuclear blackmail against Russia to force allies to turn away from Moscow.
Putin made the accusation in a wide-ranging speech to the annual Valdai forum on Thursday, where he sought to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a move that has left his country internationally isolated.
“We’ve never proactively said anything about Russia’s possible use of nuclear weapons. We’ve only responded with hints to comments voiced by the leaders of Western countries,” Putin told his audience.
President Putin singled out former UK prime minister Liz Truss for suggesting during an August campaign event that she would be ready to press the nuclear button if circumstances required her to do so.
He said he was surprised the UK’s allies did not object: “What were we supposed to do? Keep silent? Pretend that we didn’t hear it?”
However, he has himself repeatedly warned that Russia would use “all available means” to protect itself, from what has been widely seen as a clear nuclear threat.
The West has denounced recent veiled nuclear threats by the Kremlin.
The day before his address in Moscow, Putin had overseen routine nuclear exercises that involved a supposed nuclear strike in retaliation for an enemy’s massive nuclear attack.
He repeated his recent attacks on the West, and what he called its “dangerous, bloody, and dirty game” of denying countries their sovereignty and uniqueness.
The West’s “undivided dominance” over world affairs was now coming to an end, he asserted.
“We’re at a historical frontier. Ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable, and at the same time important decade since the end of World War Two.” Putin said.
He said a “future world order is being formed before our eyes”, and accused the West, led by the US, of trying to destroy Russia.
Earlier this week, the NATO military alliance condemned unsubstantiated claims by Russia that Ukraine might use a “dirty bomb” – conventional explosives laced with radioactive material.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said alliance members “reject this allegation” and “Russia must not use it as a pretext for escalation”.