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Putin warns West, says Russia is ready for nuclear war if US sends troops to Ukraine

Putin said the nuclear war scenario was not "rushing up" as of now and there was no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. He said that if the US sent troops to Ukraine, Moscow would consider it as an intervention, and reiterated that Russia is ready for negotiations.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Moscow Published on: March 13, 2024 11:25 IST
Russia, Vladimir Putin, nuclear war, West, US, Ukraine
Image Source : AP Russian President Vladimir Putin

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned Western countries that Russia is technically ready for nuclear war and it would be considered a significant escalation of the war if the United States decides to send troops to Ukraine. However, the Kremlin leader said the nuclear war scenario was not "rushing" up and there was no need for the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Speaking days before the presidential election he is all but certain to win, Putin told Russian media, "From a military-technical point of view, we are, of course, ready". The Russian President underscored that the US understood if it deployed American troops on Russian territory or to Ukraine, Moscow would view it as an intervention.

"(In the United States) there are enough specialists in the field of Russian-American relations and in the field of strategic restraint. Therefore, I don't think that here everything is rushing to it (nuclear confrontation), but we are ready for this," Putin said.

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 that the West risks provoking a nuclear war if it sends troops to fight in Ukraine. Western leaders have promised to defeat Russia in Ukraine, but after two years of war, Russian forces control a little under one fifth of Ukrainian territory.

Troubles are rife for Western countries as they have struggled to shore up support for Ukraine against a resurgent Russia in a US election year that can significantly alter the American stance depending on who comes to power in November. Kyiv says it is defending itself against an imperial-style war of conquest designed to erase its national identity.

Threats of nuclear war

Putin reiterated that the use of nuclear weapons was spelled out in the Kremlin's nuclear doctrine, its policy setting out the circumstances in which Russia might use its weapons. "Weapons exist in order to use them," he said. "We have our own principles."

Last month, Putin claimed during his annual address to the Russian Parliament that Western countries are trying to destroy Russia from within and said that his government would not allow anyone to interfere in the country's internal affairs. He also said that most Russian citizens supported his decision to invade Ukraine in 2022, which Moscow calls a "special military operation".

In a staunch warning, Putin also warned Western countries that they are at risk of nuclear war if they sent their own troops to fight in Ukraine, adding that Russia had the weapons to strike targets in the West. This came after an idea was floated by French President Emmanuel Macron of European NATO members sending their ground troops to Ukraine, which was quickly rejected by other countries.

Russia and the United States are by far the largest nuclear powers, controlling more than 90 per cent of the world's nuclear weapons. "Russia is ready for negotiations on Ukraine, but they should be based on reality - and not on cravings after the use of psychotropic drugs," Putin said.

PM Modi's contribution in averting nuclear war

A CNN report last week claimed that the administration of US President Joe Biden was specifically concerned in 2022 that Russia might use a tactical or battlefield nuclear weapon in Ukraine.Putin said Russia had never faced a need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, where the conflict has raged since February 2022.

The report stated that outreach from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other countries also played an important role in averting the crisis. The US sought to enlist the help of non-allies including India, to discourage Russia from such an attack and US officials say that outreach and public statements from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others helped avert a crisis.

"I think the fact that we know, India weighed in, China weighed in, others weighed in, may have had some effect on their thinking," a senior administration official said. "I can't demonstrate this positively, but I think that's our assessment."

Regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India has always condemned civilian killings and called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In a major statement, PM Modi told President Putin that "this is not the era of war" on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Uzbekistan last year. The statement was even made to the G20 communique under the presidency of India.

(with inputs from agencies)

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