It comes as the Russian president today sent a chilling warning to the West, threatening to use “all the means at our disposal” to protect itself.
He also said, “it’s not a bluff” when he vowed that Russia would use its weapons of mass destruction if its territory was threatened.
He continued to accuse the West of “nuclear blackmail” and claimed “high-ranking representatives of the leading Nato states” had talked about the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia.
“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction,” Mr Putin said.
Following Putin’s warning, retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges said the US could destroy Russia’s Black Fleet or its bases in Crimea “in a devastating strike”.
“He [Putin] knows the US will have to respond if Russia uses a nuclear weapon,” Gen Hodges told MailOnline, though adding that America’s retaliation “may not be nuclear”.
Moscow-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine are set to hold referendums on becoming parts of Russia, which could give the Kremlin the pretext for a wider war because Mr Putin would be able to claim parts of his state were being attacked.
The UK’s defence secretary Ben Wallace said Mr Putin‘s actions were “an admission that his invasion is failing”.
“No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community are united and Russia is becoming a global pariah.”
Foreign office minister Gillian Keegan questioned whether Mr Putin was “in control”.
She told Sky News: “Some of the language there was quite concerning at the end and obviously we would urge for calm.”