Putin promises 'immediate' reaction if Russia threatened

Vladimir Putin has hinted about using nuclear weapons against any country that dares to "interfere" with Russia's war in Ukraine.

Speaking to legislators in St Petersburg yesterday, the Russian leader warned his response to counter strikes "will be lightning fast"

"If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside they must know that constitutes an unacceptable strategic threat to Russia. They must know that our response to counter strikes will be lightning fast. Fast," he said.

"We have all the weapons we need for this. No one else can brag about these weapons, and we won’t brag about them. But we will use them."

Though Putin did not mention nuclear weapons directly, Russia has made a new Sarmat 2 nuclear missile which was tested for the first time just days ago and that he boasted is unlike any other weapon in the world.

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Meanwhile, Russia has made other nuclear threats recently. On Monday, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Russia is now fighting a proxy-war with the whole of NATO.

Asked directly about the possibility of a nuclear war, he said: "The risks are very significant. I do not want the danger to be artificially inflated [but] it is serious, real. It cannot be underestimated."

But UK armed forces minister James Heappey dismissed the comments as "bravado", saying he sees no imminent threat of nuclear escalation.

It comes on day 64 of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian president Zelensky has said the total l losses inflicted upon Ukraine from the war have reached $600bn with more than 32m square metres of living space, more than 1,500 educational facilities and more than 350 medical facilities destroyed or damaged.

Russia’s foreign ministry announced sanctions on 287 MPs and halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

In a speech last night, foreign secretary Liz Truss described Putin, as a “desperate rogue operator with no interest in international norms” and called upon the west to “dig deep” into its weapons inventories. “We’ve got to double down on our support for Ukraine,” she said.

Elsewhere in Putin's speech, he praised "heroic" Russian troops, who he said were fighting to "prevent a large-scale conflict", repeating claims he was just conducting a special military operation.

He also repeated unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine is trying to get nuclear weapons and railed against Western "fascists".

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