Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech on Wednesday was a worrying escalation and the threats he made must be taken seriously, British foreign office minister Gillian Keegan, told Sky News.
Putin ordered Russia’s first military mobilisation since World War Two, warning the West that if it continued what he called its “nuclear blackmail” that Moscow would respond with the might of all its vast arsenal.
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“Clearly it’s something that we should take very seriously because, you know, we’re not in control – I’m not sure he’s in control either, really.
“This is obviously an escalation,” Keegan said.
“It is chilling … It’s a serious threat, but one that has been made before,” she told the BBC in a separate interview.
Putin restated his objective was to “liberate” eastern Ukraine’s Donbas industrial heartland and that most people in the region did not want to return to what he called the “yoke” of Ukraine.
“The overall address clearly was more of Putin’s lies, it was a rewriting of history,” Keegan said.
Putin had said that Russia will use all available means to protect its territory, accusing the West of seeking to “weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country”.
“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff,” Putin said.
“Those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the wind can also turn in their direction,” Putin added.