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Putin says Russian nuclear weapons 'more advanced' than in US

Moscow, Russia | March 14, 2024, Thursday @ 06:55 in World » GENERAL | By: AFP | Views: 2551
Putin says Russian nuclear weapons 'more advanced' than in US

In this pool photograph distributed by Russia's state agency Sputnik, Russian President Vladimir Putin gives an interview to TV host and Director General of Rossiya Segodnya (RIA Novosti) news agency Dmitry Kiselyov at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 12, 2024. (Photo by Gavriil GRIGOROV / POOL / AFP)

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President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday lauded Moscow's nuclear arsenal and warned that he was ready to deploy the weapons if Russia's sovereignty was threatened.

The Kremlin has touted its nuclear prowess throughout its two-year offensive in Ukraine, last month warning Western countries there was a "real" risk of nuclear catastrophe if they escalated the conflict.

The United States, however, said it had seen no sign Russia was planning to use nuclear weapons anytime soon.

"We have not seen any reasons to adjust our own nuclear posture, nor any indication that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine," White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about Putin's remarks.

"Nevertheless, Russia's nuclear rhetoric has been reckless and irresponsible throughout this conflict," she added.

Putin's latest comments come just days ahead of elections in Russia that are all but guaranteed to hand him another six years in power as his military posts gains in Ukraine.

"Our triad, the nuclear triad, it is more modern than any other triad. Only we and the Americans actually have such triads. And we have advanced much more here," Putin said in a wide-ranging interview with state media.

The "triad" refers to Russia's three-pronged arsenal of weapons launched from land, sea and air.

"We are ready to use weapons, including any weapons -- including the weapons you mentioned -- if it is a question of the existence of the Russian state or damage to our sovereignty and independence," Putin added in the interview, which aired on Wednesday.

- Strike on Russian oil facilities -

The Russian leader also dismissed comments by French leader Emmanuel Macron, who last month declined to rule out putting boots on the ground in Ukraine, a significant shift in rhetoric as Kyiv struggles on the battlefield.

"The fact is that the militaries of Western countries have been present in Ukraine for a long time," the Russian leader said, referring to what the Kremlin says are mercenaries.

"But if we talk about official military contingents of foreign countries, I am sure it will not change the situation on the battlefield," he added.

While Macron has doubled down on his remarks, several of Ukraine's allies, including Washington, have distanced themselves from the idea, which stunned many in Europe.

The EU on Wednesday nonetheless agreed to up its financial support for Ukraine, after months of wrangling, with a new five billion euro arms package.

Brussels said 28 billion euros have been spent from member states and EU coffers to support Ukraine's military since February 2022.

And a meeting of the so-called Weimar Triangle is planned for Friday as Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk are set to travel to Germany for talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Berlin and Warsaw said.

"In my opinion, these three capitals have the task and the power to mobilise all of Europe" to provide Ukraine with fresh aid, Tusk told state broadcaster TVP late Tuesday from Washington, where he met with US President Joe Biden.

Biden on Tuesday announced a $300 million emergency weapons package to prop up Ukraine while a much larger, $60 billion package remains stalled in Congress.

- Strikes in Russia -

Putin's comments Wednesday came hours after Ukrainian drones attacked three oil refineries in Russia, hundreds of kilometres from the frontline in the regions of Ryazan, Nizhny Novgorod and Leningrad, a security source told AFP.

"Our task is to deprive the enemy of resources and reduce the flow of oil money and fuel," the source said.

Several people were injured, according to local authorities.

In the Russian border region of Belgorod, two people were injured when a Ukrainian shell hit a house on Wednesday afternoon, the region's governor said.

Putin said that Ukraine was increasing its attacks on Russian territory to interfere with upcoming presidential elections and because Ukraine "did not achieve any of their goals" for the last year.

Ukraine has ceded ground to Russian forces in recent months as it faces a myriad of shortages, from artillery to air defences, in part because a $60-billion aid package remains held up in the US Congress.

On Tuesday night, a Russian missile strike in President Volodymyr Zelensky's hometown of Kryvyi Rih left five dead and dozens wounded, an attack the Ukrainian leader warned would not go "unpunished".

© Agence France-Presse

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