Secretary of State Gillian Keegan has described Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons in the conflict in Ukraine as a “worrying escalation”.
In a speech broadcast to the Russian people this morning, Putin ordered a partial mobilization of Russian reserves to join the conflict and reminded Western nations supporting Ukraine that Russia possesses modern weapons of destruction.
“I’m not bluffing,” he said, accusing the West of “nuclear blackmail.”
Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News, Ms Keegan, the MP for Chichester, said Putin’s speech was “worrying” and accused him of “rewriting history” after he claimed he was trying to conquer occupied Ukrainian territory by “neo-Nazis”. to free.
She said: “Let me get this straight – these are Putin’s lies that continue to completely misrepresent what happened in Ukraine.”
Ms Keegan said the speech must be taken “seriously” but said the West would remain unwavering in its support for Ukraine.
In a message to Ukrainians, she said: “We are there, we are by your side – we will help as best we can.”
Putin’s speech comes just a day after four regions of Ukraine at least partially occupied by Russian forces announced they would hold referenda on joining Russia later this week.
Referendums in Luhansk, Cherson, Zaporizhia and Donetsk are scheduled to begin on Friday.
Western nations have already condemned plans to hold referendums in the occupied territories, with French President Emmanuel Macron calling the planned polls a “parody”.
“If the idea of the Donbas referendum wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny,” he told reporters in New York.
In his speech, the Russian president threatened to use any means Russia had to defend “our people” in Ukraine’s Donbass region and to take “steps” to protect Russian territory.
He said: “I would like to remind you that our country has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of NATO countries, and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal.”
The speech, Putin’s first since the war began seven months ago, follows recent Ukrainian battlefield successes in the north-east of the country earlier this month.
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/22381246.foreign-minister-accuses-russia-worrying-escalation-ukraine/?ref=rss Foreign Minister accuses Russia of “worrying escalation” in Ukraine