Putin resumes ‘sabre-rattling’ with warning Russia ready for nuclear war

Ahead of weekend elections, Russian president boasts his country’s nuclear capabilities are superior to the West’s.

President Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia is “ready” to use nuclear weapons if there is a threat to its statehood.

In a recorded interview broadcast by Russian media on Wednesday, the Kremlin chief said his country is ready for a nuclear war from a “military-technical” point of view. His comments signal a resumption of nuclear “sabre-rattling“, as it was branded a year ago, just ahead of this weekend’s presidential election.

Two weeks ago, Putin claimed during an annual address to the nation of a “real” risk of nuclear war if Western countries sent troops to fight in Ukraine. On Wednesday, he insisted that Russia’s nuclear arsenal and troops hold the advantage over the West.

“From a military-technical point of view, we are, of course, ready. They [Russian forces] are constantly in a state of combat readiness,” Putin said during an interview with the Rossiya-1 state TV channel.

“Our triad, the nuclear triad, it is more modern than any other triad,” he continued. “Only we and the Americans actually have such triads. And we have advanced much more here.”

Putin and other Russian officials have regularly referenced the country’s nuclear capabilities since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the West’s response in supporting Kyiv. However, Moscow denies that the reminders are meant to be threatening.

Putin was careful to note in his latest comments that the US had sufficient expertise “in the field of Russian-American relations and in the field of strategic restraint” to understand the risks. There was no “rushing” to the nuclear scenario, he said.


The Russian president also addressed recent Ukrainian attacks on targets inside Russia, which have surged in recent weeks as Moscow’s forces have made gains on the largely frozen front line in eastern Ukraine.

Members of the pro-Ukrainian Russian ethnic Siberian Battalion practice at a military training close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023
Members of the pro-Ukrainian Russian ethnic Siberian Battalion practice at a military training close to Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 13, 2023. The battalion is made up entirely of Russian citizens who want to fight against Russia’s invasion [Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

“The main goal, I have no doubt about it, is to – if not to disrupt the presidential elections in Russia – then at least somehow interfere with the normal process of expressing the will of citizens,” he asserted, referring to the vote scheduled for March 15-17.

The election is expected to hand Putin, who has ruled the country since the turn of the century, another six-year term.

Ukraine’s military has been reaching deeper into Russian territory, hitting several oil refineries in waves of drone attacks, while anti-Putin Russian volunteer militias claim to have pulled off cross-border incursions into Kursk and Belgorod.

On Tuesday, Ukraine launched a sweeping, overnight drone attack on several Russian regions for the second night in a row.  Oil refineries in Ryazan, Kstovo and Kirishi, a Russian airbase in Buturlinovka, and a military airfield in Voronezh region, were all hit, according to a Ukrainian source quoted by Reuters.

The attack set Rosneft’s biggest oil refinery in Ryazan, just 180km (112 miles) from Moscow, alight. “Judging by the videos online, the consequences were fairly significant,” the source said.

Putin also repeated in his interview that Russia is ready for serious talks on Ukraine, although that claim was accompanied by a crude demand that any peace would have to be on his terms.

“Russia is ready for negotiations on Ukraine, but they should be based on reality – and not on cravings after the use of psychotropic drugs,” he said.

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