The Russian leader blamed the West for fueling recent nuclear tensions, citing comments by former British Prime Minister Liz Truss about her willingness to use London’s nuclear deterrent if circumstances called for it.
He reiterated a claim that Ukraine could detonate a “dirty bomb” containing radioactive material to frame Moscow – a claim dismissed by Kiev and the West as false and without evidence.
A suggestion by Kiev that the Russian attack could mean Moscow plans to detonate such a device itself was incorrect, he said.
“We don’t have to do that. It wouldn’t make any sense to do that,” Putin said, adding that the Kremlin had responded to what he believed to be nuclear blackmail by the West.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to the biggest confrontation with the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 in the depths of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union and the US came closest to nuclear war.
Asked about a possible nuclear escalation around Ukraine, Putin said the danger of nuclear weapons would exist as long as nuclear weapons existed.
But he said Russian military doctrine was defensive and, when asked about the Cuban missile crisis, joked that he didn’t want to replace Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader who, along with John F. Kennedy, brought the world to the brink. nuclear war before the situation is defused.
“No way. No, I can’t imagine myself in the role of Khrushchev,” Putin said.
Putin quoted a 1978 Harvard lecture by Russian dissident and novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who launched a frontal attack on Western civilization, decrying the West’s hollow materialism and “blindness of superiority”.
“Power over the world is what the so-called West has put on the line in its game — but the game is dangerous, bloody and I’d say dirty,” Putin said. “The sower of the wind, as they say, will reap the storm.”
“I have always believed and believed in common sense, so I am convinced that sooner or later the new centers of the multipolar world order and the West will have to start an equal conversation about the future we share – and the sooner the better,” said Putin. said.
He described the conflict in Ukraine as a battle between the West and Russia for the fate of the second largest East Slavic country, which he said had ended in tragedy for Kiev.
Putin said he constantly thought of Russian casualties in Ukraine but avoided going into detail about what the West believes to be huge losses. But only Russia can guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity, he said.
Ultimately, Putin said, the West should talk to Russia and other superpowers about the future of the world.
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