Truss rages at Putins nuclear blackmail and vows to send more weapons

Putin's advisor Sergei Markov warns Russia is ready to 'nuke' UK

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The Prime Minister accused the Russian tyrant of “doubling down” on his “catastrophic failures” by drafting 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine. And US President Joe Biden condemned Putin’s “reckless” threats, insisting a “nuclear war cannot be won – and must never be fought”.

The Kremlin wants to swallow Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia into Russia by holding sham referenda after a devastating counter-offensive by Ukraine in the country’s north-east in the past weeks, which saw Ukraine reclaim hundreds of towns and villages that had been controlled by Russia for months.

And the Russian leader, in a direct challenge to the West, vowed the pariah state would use “all available means” to protect its territory.

He said: “Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the wind can also turn in their direction”.

But Prime Minister Truss said, as more UK weapons arrived in Ukraine: “We won’t rest until Ukraine prevails.

“I pledge that we will sustain or increase our military support to Ukraine, for as long as it takes.

“New UK weapons are arriving in Ukraine as I speak – including more MLRS rockets.

“The story of 2022 could have been that of an authoritarian state rolling its tanks over the border of a peaceful neighbour and subjugating its people.

“Instead, it is the story of freedom fighting back.”

She said new UK weapons arrived in Ukraine today – including more MLRS rockets which have been used to devastating effect by Kyiv’s troops.

Ukrainian soldiers have used American HIMARS and British ML270 MLRS to destroy supply lines, ammunition depots and bridges to cut off reinforcements.

The Prime Minister said Russian forces are using “barbarous weapons” to “kill and maim people”, adding: “Rape is being used as an instrument of war.”

She told the UN General Assembly: “This morning we have seen Putin desperately trying to justify his catastrophic failures.

“He is doubling down by sending even more reservists to a terrible fate.

“He is desperately trying to claim the mantle of democracy for a regime without human rights or freedoms.

“And he is making yet more bogus claims and sabre-rattling threats.

Ukraine’s President Zelensky warned if the West does not unite behind Ukraine today, Putin may tomorrow use nuclear blackmail to demand “part of Poland”.

He said: “I don’t believe that he will use these weapons.

“Tomorrow, Putin can say — as well as Ukraine, we want part of Poland, otherwise we will use atomic weapons. We cannot make these compromises,” he said.

Mr Zelensky said the Russian tyrant needs an “army of millions”, adding “he sees that a large part of those who come to us, just run away.”

Putin “wants to drown Ukraine in blood, also the blood of his own soldiers”, Mr Zelensky said.

A senior diplomatic source said last night: “We take this threat very seriously in terms of pure defence, but also as another example of Putin flouting international agreements.

“The threat either of using tactical nuclear weapons, which would be tragic, or using bigger nuclear weapons is very real. We’ve seen Putin lie and bluff his way throughout this war.

“But we’ve also seen him in some ways make some sensible decisions – so it’s hard to know … we take it very seriously.

“But I think the main point is we’re not going to engage in a battle of words about a nuclear threat from a man who postponed his speech last night, was shaking when he delivered it, and is now attempting to mobilise reservists who are attempting to get to airports across Russia. “His lies are catching up with him I think.”

President Joe Biden said America is firmly behind Ukraine despite Putin’s reckless threats.

He said: “Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened. No-one threatened Russia. No-one other than Russia sought conflict.

“If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we put at risk everything this very institution stands for.

“You cannot seize a nation’s territory by force… we will stand in solidarity with Ukraine.

“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, and Ukrainians’ right to exist as a people.

“That should make your blood run cold.”

Russian Defence Secretary Sergei Shoigu said 300,000 people would be mobilised out of a pool of 25 million.

The contracts of professional soldiers would be extended indefinitely.

The Russian president, who has for months assured Russians that only professional soldiers would fight in Ukraine, told the nation the war now threatens the very existence of Russia.

He said: “The goal of the West is to weaken, tear apart and destroy our country in the end,” he said as he insisted partial mobilisation was necessary to “protect sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia.”

And the Russian leader accused the West of “nuclear blackmail” and claimed “high-ranking representatives of the leading Nato states” had talked about the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction against Russia.

“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction,” Mr Putin said.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “President Putin’s breaking of his own promises not to mobilise parts of his population and the illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine, are an admission that his invasion is failing.

“He and his Defence Minister have sent tens of thousands of their own citizens to their deaths, ill equipped and badly led.

“No amount of threats and propaganda can hide the fact that Ukraine is winning this war, the international community are united and Russia is becoming a global pariah.”

“I don’t believe that he will use these weapons. I don’t think the world will allow him to use these weapons,” Mr Zelensky said.

The Prime Minister of Estonia, which has a land border with Russia, insisted “Europe will not tire”.

Kaja Kallas said: “President Putin’s speech was meant to scare the international community. As for nuclear threats, the aim is the

same as it has been so far – it is to fuel fear and terrorize the wider public.

“The Kremlin is blackmailing international community and wants to scare us and deter us from helping Ukraine.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will face down Sergey Lavrov at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York tomorrow. 

He will detail how Russian forces continue to commit atrocities across Ukraine and expose how Moscow plans to fix the results of sham referendums in parts of the country under its control.

Addressing foreign ministers, Mr Cleverly will pledge full and unwavering support to Ukrainian sovereignty.

The Foreign Secretary will say: “Ukrainians’ resilience and spirit of defiance, in defence of their country, continues to inspire all free people and nations.

“But every day, the devastating consequences of Russia’s invasion become more clear and evidence of Russian atrocities continues to mount…

“We can and must make clear to President Putin that his attacks on the sovereign will of the Ukrainian people – so clearly expressed as they fight for their homes – must stop. His assaults on the UN charter and international norms that protect us will not be tolerated and that he must withdraw from Ukraine to enable a return to regional and global stability.”

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