Russia will use its largest and most powerful nuclear weapons to defend territory it occupies in Ukraine, a staunch ally of Vladimir Putin has stressed today.
Dmitry Medvedev, who served as Putin’s deputy from 2008 to 2012, promised that if referendums are held this week, the territories will become part of Russia – after which “all Russian weapons” will be used in their defense.
These include “strategic nuclear weapons” like Putin’s giant new Sarmat missile, Medvedev said, and “weapons based on new principles” — likely a reference to hypersonic technology that the Kremlin claims is invulnerable to air defense.
“The Western Establishment [and] All NATO citizens must understand that Russia has chosen its own path. There is no going back,” he added.
Russia will use its biggest nuclear weapons to defend its new territories in Ukraine, a staunch Putin ally has said (pictured: Sarmat nuclear missile).
Dmitry Medvedev, head of Russia’s Security Council, said Russia’s hypersonic weapons could hit the West as he issued a new threat today
Medvedev made the comments a day after Putin delivered a fire-and-brimstone speech in which he launched a new nuclear threat against the West and told world leaders, “I’m not bluffing.”
But Liz Truss, Britain’s Prime Minister, hit back in a speech at the UN last night, telling Putin the West would not be “intimidated” by nuclear blackmail.
She pledged billions more to help Ukraine and said Britain would not stop arming the country until Russia was defeated.
US President Joe Biden was similarly defiant, promising the West would “stand in solidarity against Russia’s aggression, period”.
He added: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
Putin also announced yesterday the “partial mobilization” of Russia’s military reserves, including those with combat experience and “special skills” that the army needs.
It is the first time since World War II that Russia has enlisted its people in the army, and this after another humiliating defeat.
Ukraine won a major victory last week by leading the Russian army east of Kharkiv, leaving troops fighting for control of the Donbass vulnerable.
Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, said 300,000 Russian men are now being drafted and sent to the front lines – twice the size of the initial invasion force – in hopes of stopping the rot and conquering the entire Donbass region.
Putin was forced to call up his military reserves as his war in Ukraine failed, prompting young Russian men to attempt to flee the country last night
Hours after Putin announced the mobilization, lines of cars were forming at the country’s border with Georgia trying to get out of Russia
Videos have shown what appear to be the first busloads of men heading to the front lines from some of Russia’s most remote regions today.
But pundits and analysts have said the reinforcements are unlikely to turn the tide of the war in Putin’s favor, and could even hurt him by angering the populace.
Anti-war protests broke out overnight in around 30 Russian cities, and hundreds of people were arrested.
Thousands more tried to flee the country to avoid conscription, with plane tickets to visa-free countries selling out in hours.
Huge traffic jams and queues also formed at border crossings overnight, while social media was flooded with messages – including wives threatening to break their husbands’ bones to disable them.
Russia is now almost seven months into what should become a days-long war to overthrow the Ukrainian government and install a loyal puppet in its place.
Instead, Putin is bogged down in a grueling war of attrition against a stubborn enemy backed by Western arms and money.
Its military has made some gains – seizing areas in the south and east the size of Belgium – and now appears to be trying to consolidate.
Putin yesterday announced referendums to be held in the occupied territories of Ukraine on whether or not they should become part of the mainland.
A man is carried away by security guards in Moscow tonight as thousands took to the streets to protest against the war and the mobilization of reservists
A woman is being taken away by Russian police this evening in Moscow during a demonstration against the Russian president’s recent escalation in the Ukraine conflict
A man is dragged away by Russian security forces during a protest in Moscow tonight against Vladimir Putin’s order to mobilize reservists
If – and not if – the sham votes come about, he promised us “every means” to defend them.
That spooked nuclear experts, given Russia’s long-standing policy that it can use nuclear weapons to defend itself in the event of an “existential threat” to the country.
Putin suggested that attacks on the “new territories” could be seen as such a threat, underscored by Medvedev today.
He wrote on Telegram: “Results of the decisions of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of 09/21/22
‘1. Referendums will be held and the Donbass republics and other territories will be included in Russia.
‘2. The protection of all acceding territories will be significantly strengthened by the Russian armed forces.
‘3. Russia announced that not only mobilization capabilities, but all Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used for such protection.
“So there’s no need for some retired idiots with general’s stripes to startle us with talk of a NATO attack on Crimea.
“Hypersonic is guaranteed to be able to reach destinations in Europe and the United States much faster.
“But the Western establishment in general, all NATO citizens must understand that Russia has chosen its own path. There is no going back.”