Watch: Vladimir Putin accuses west of 'nuclear blackmail' in rare national address
Vladimir Putin delivered his warning on Russian TV (Photo: Sky News)
Vladimir Putin has said he is prepared to use nuclear weapons as he warned the west: “I’m not bluffing.”
The Russian president issued the chilling statement in a rambling TV address in which he also confirmed plans to call up reservists “to defend our motherland”.
In a series of bizarre claims, he accused the west of threatening to use nuclear weapons against Moscow.
But he insisted Russia’s weapons were more advanced than Nato’s and he was not afraid to use them.
Putin claimed there were “plans in Washington and Brussels to move the military action onto the Russian territory”.
He added: “They are not just talking about Russia being completely destroyed - a battlefield. [They are] talking about political, cultural and all the typed of sovereignty with complete pillage.
“Now they are talking about nuclear blackmail. The Zaparozye nuclear power plant was shelled and also some high position representatives of leading Nato states were saying that there might be possibility and permissibility to use nuclear weapons against Russia.
“Those that allow such statements shall be reminded that our country also has various weapons of destruction, and ... they are even more modern than the Nato ones and if there is a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and for protecting our people, we will certainly use all the means available to us and I’m not bluffing.
He said: “If there is a threat to the territorial integrity of our country, and in protecting our people we will certainly use all means to us - and I’m not bluffing.”
Putin went on: “Those trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the tables can turn on them.”
Responding to Putin’s statement, Foreign Office minister Gillian Keegan accused Putin of telling ’lies”.
“He is continuing to completely misrepresent what is happening in Ukraine,” she said.
“It is Russia’s illegal war and of course we will still stand by Ukraine, as will all of our Nato allies.”
On Putin’s nuclear threat, she said: “It’s something that we should take very seriously because, you know, we’re not in control.
“I’m not sure he’s in control either really. I mean, this is obviously an escalation and, of course, for the Russian people now they will be conscripted into this war.”
Asked to deliver a message to the people of Ukraine, Keegan said: “We’re by your side, we will help as much as we possibly can.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.