Putin's nuclear threat is 'deplorable', foreign minister says after Russian leader's Ukraine threats

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his state-of-the-nation address in Moscow. Credit: AP

Nuclear war threats made by Russian President Vladimir Putin are "irresponsible and deplorable", a UK foreign minister said.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon condemned the remarks after Putin warned the risk of nuclear war would increase if the West was to send its own troops to fight for Ukraine.

Responding at Westminster, Lord Ahmad told peers: “Nothing surprises us or shocks us in terms of what Mr Putin articulates.

“Whether he is using it with intent or as shock tactic I can’t speculate on that.

“But what I can say, and I am sure I speak for everyone in the House, is that the last thing anyone wants to hear right now is the use of threatening to use such weapons.”

In his annual state of the nation address on Thursday, Putin repeated his claims that Russia did not start the war in Ukraine, accused Western countries of trying to weaken Russia and again warned the West’s response could trigger a nuclear conflict.

He added that Moscow had the weapons to strike Western targets.

Putin also referenced an idea floated by French President Emmanuel Macron, who on Monday said the possibility of sending Western troops to Ukraine “cannot be ruled out.”

The Russian president said: “Everything that they are coming up with now, with which they threaten the entire world – all this really threatens a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons, and therefore the destruction of civilisation – don’t they understand this, or what?”

“They must ultimately understand that we also have weapons – and they know about it, just as I now said – we also have weapons that can hit targets on their territory,” he claimed.

Putin noted that while accusing Russia of plans to attack NATO allies in Europe, Western allies were “selecting targets for striking our territory and selecting the most efficient as they think striking assets and talking about the possibility of sending a NATO contingent to Ukraine.”

“We remember the fate of those who sent their troop contingents to the territory of our country,” the Russian leader said. “Now the consequences for the potential invaders will be far more tragic.”

Putin’s address comes ahead of the presidential elections which will take place next month, where he will undoubtedly enter his fifth term in office.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…