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Russia ready to use nukes if sovereignty threatened, Putin warns ahead of near-certain election victory

RUSSIA is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty or independence is threatened, President Vladimir Putin said today, issuing another blunt warning just days ahead of an election in which he’s all but certain to secure another six-year term.

The Russian leader has repeatedly talked about his readiness to use nuclear weapons since invading Ukraine in February 2022.

The most recent such threat came in his state-of-the-nation address last month, when he warned the West that deepening its involvement in the fighting in Ukraine would risk a nuclear war.

Asked in an interview with Russian state television released today if he has ever considered using battlefield nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Mr Putin responded that there has been no need for that.

He also noted that he doesn’t think that the world is heading for a nuclear war, describing US President Joe Biden as a veteran politician who fully understands possible dangers of escalation.

Mr Putin said that in line with the country’s security doctrine, Moscow is ready to use nuclear weapons in case of a threat to “the existence of the Russian state, our sovereignty and independence.”

“All that is written in our strategy, we haven’t changed it,” he said.

In the wake of recent battlefield gains, Mr Putin argued that Kyiv and its Western allies will eventually have to accept a deal to end the war on Russian terms.

Mr Putin said that a recent spike in Ukrainian drone attacks deep inside Russia is part of efforts to derail the country’s three-day presidential election, which starts tomorrow and which he is set to win by a landslide, given his near total crackdown on dissent and tight control over Russia’s political system.

Russian authorities reported another major attack by Ukrainian drones this morning.

The Defence Ministry said air defences downed 58 drones over six regions. One of the drones hit an oil refinery in the Ryazan region, injuring at least two people and sparking a fire. Another was downed as it was approaching a refinery near St Petersburg.

Ukraine, meanwhile, reported more Russian attacks early on Wednesday.

A Russian strike killed two people and wounded another five in the town of Myrnohrad in the eastern region of Donetsk, about 20 miles from the front line, according to Governor Vadym Filashkin.

Local rescuers managed to pull a 13-year-old girl out of the rubble of block of flats.

A five-storey building in the northern city of Sumy was struck by a drone launched from Russia overnight and 10 people were rescued from the rubble, including eight who sustained injuries, according to the regional administration.

In President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown, the death toll from a Russian missile attack the previous night rose to four, said Governor Serhii Lysak.

He said that 43 people were wounded in the city of Kryvyi Rih, including 12 children, the youngest of them two and 11 months old.

“Every day our cities and villages suffer similar attacks. Every day Ukraine loses people because of Russian evil,” Mr Zelensky said.

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