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Putin threatens nuclear war

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Kremlin/Released)
March 16, 2024

Just one week before Russia’s presidential election, Russian President Vladimir Putin again made the statement that Russia was prepared to deploy nuclear defenses if NATO sends troops to Ukraine.

The statements were made during Putin’s annual State of the Union address, to Russia’s Federal Assembly, according to the Washington Post.

“In (the U.S.), there are enough experts in Russian-American relations and in the field of strategic deterrence. So, I don’t think everything is rushing headlong here, but we are ready for this,” Putin said in response to a question regarding the potential for nuclear war.  

“They must understand that we also have weapons that can hit targets on their territory,” he said, warning of “tragic consequences” if NATO forces were ever deployed to Ukraine. “All this really threatens a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons and the destruction of civilization. Don’t they get that?”

Putin added that Kinzhal and Zircon missiles, advanced hypersonic nuclear-capable weapons, had already been deployed in Russia’s two-year-long war with Ukraine. 

READ MORE: Navalnaya tells world not to recognize Putin as ‘legitimate’ leader

Putin’s warning comes after French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments at the Paris Summit on February 26 seemingly left the potential of sending aid troops to Ukraine open. 

“We should not exclude that there might be a need for security that then justifies some elements of deployment,” Macron said, according to BBC News. “But I’ve told you very clearly what France maintains as its position, which is a strategic ambiguity that I stand by.”

Macron’s statements were met with immediate and unanimous opposition, with the U.S., UK, Germany, and Italy releasing individual statements clarifying that their respective leaders had no intentions or plans to provide support forces. 

Putin has long used the threat of nuclear force in Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine. According to CSIS, in February 2022, as Russian troops crossed the border, Putin released a statement saying, “No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.”

The Nuclear Threat Institute (NTI) lists Russia as a leading holder of the world’s known weapons of mass destruction. Of an estimated 5,580 nuclear warheads owned by Russia, approximately 1,822 are strategically deployed.