Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Western countries that his country’s nuclear threats are “not a bluff” on Wednesday.
Putin issued the warning after accusing Western countries of resorting to “nuclear blackmail,” despite no NATO countries threatening to use nuclear weapons. The threat comes as Russia’s prospects in Ukraine are grim, with Putin’s military losing thousands of square miles of territory to a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also 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,” Putin said in a Wednesday address.
“It’s not a bluff,” he added.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive has pushed Putin toward drastic measures, with Russia announcing a partial military mobilization late Tuesday. The policy will see the Russian military conscripting reservist civilians.
Fear of a wider mobilization has reportedly caused a mass exodus of young men fleeing Russia since the announcement. Flights from Russia to countries that do not require visas were completely booked Wednesday, according to The Telegraph.
Putin argues conscription is necessary to “protect our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to ensure the security of our people and people in the liberated territories.”
Putin’s threats come less than a day before President Biden is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly. The White House says Biden will condemn Putin’s “naked aggression” and make the case that Russia has violated the U.N.’s core tenets.
“He’ll offer a firm rebuke of Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we’ve seen these past several months,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday.
“He will underscore the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirm core tenets of its charter at a time when a permanent member of the Security Council has struck at the very heart of the charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty,” he added.