West on edge as Putin cracks jokes about nuclear attack

Putin: Russia 'will never make peace' with an 'aggressive' West

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President Putin has heightened tensions between Russia and the West after reaffirming the threat of nuclear attack during an interview at a foreign policy conference. Vladimir Putin appeared at the event hosted by the Kremlin-aligned think tank the Valdai Discussion Club. During an interview, one of the conference hosts questioned the Russian President on his hints at nuclear war. Rather than address the serious prospect of global conflict, President Putin seized the opportunity to joke about nuclear annihilation.

Speaking from the main stage at the Valdai conference, host Fyodor Lukyanov addressed Vladimir Putin: “We became a little nervous recalling your comments at this very event four years ago that ‘we’ll all end up in paradise’. We’re not in a hurry are we?”

President Putin did not reply to the question, instead staring distantly straight ahead at the nervous-looking audience gathered below.

The host urged: “You’re thinking. That in itself is somehow alarming.”

Putin let out a muffled laugh and replied: “I did that on purpose to alarm you – the effect has been achieved.” 

His decision to humour the concept of nuclear war comes after the Russian President made clear threats of attack against Western nations in retaliation for their support of Ukraine.

In a national address, during which President Putin announced plans to launch a partial mobilisation of reserve Russian forces, he declared: “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us.”

He added that his threat was “not a bluff” as he boasted that Moscow held “more modern” weapons systems than NATO countries.

In response, global leaders, many speaking from the United Nations summit in New York, condemned the threat. Then prime minister Liz Truss described the statement as “sabre-rattling”.

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During his time at the Valdai annual conference, the Russian President gave a speech in which he blamed the West for fueling a global crisis of security.

Vladimir Putin proclaimed: “The so-called West which is, of course, a theoretical construct since it is not united and clearly is a highly complex conglomerate.

“I will still say that the West has taken a number of steps in recent years and especially in recent months that are designed to escalate the situation.”

He claimed the West was “decaying” and, as a result, Western power strived to “restrain and block the free development of other civilisations”.

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President Putin argued the West had “no right” to interfere in the interests of Kremlin policy.

He declared: “Russia does not interfere in such matters and has no intention of doing so. Unlike the West, we mind our own business.”

His speech follows a series of long-awaited phone calls between Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his global counterparts, including representatives of the UK and the US.

Shoigu accused Ukraine of plotting to launch a “dirty bomb”, a claim that has been refuted by global defence authorities. 

NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said: “Allies reject this allegation. Russia must not use it as a pretext for escalation. We remain steadfast in our support for Ukraine.”

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