Putin warns of nuclear war readiness amid Ukraine conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Wednesday that Russia is technically prepared for nuclear war, emphasizing that any U.S. troop deployment to Ukraine would significantly escalate the conflict.

Speaking ahead of the March 15-17 election, which will likely extend his tenure by another six years, Putin mentioned that the scenario of nuclear confrontation is not imminent, and he sees no immediate need for nuclear arms in Ukraine.

“We are, of course, ready from a military-technical standpoint,” Putin, 71, stated in an interview with Rossiya-1 television and the RIA news agency, when asked about Russia’s readiness for nuclear war.

Putin expressed that the U.S. is aware that deploying American forces in Ukraine or on Russian territory would be viewed as an act of intervention by Russia. He noted the U.S. has enough experts in Russian-American relations and strategic restraint to understand the gravity of the situation.

“I don’t think everything is heading towards (nuclear confrontation), but we are prepared for this,” Putin said.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has led to the most severe crisis in Russia-West relations since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Putin has repeatedly cautioned that Western involvement in Ukraine could trigger a nuclear conflict. In February 2022, Russia escalated the eight-year conflict in eastern Ukraine by invading, leading to a full-scale war. Russian forces now control nearly one-fifth of Ukrainian territory.

As Western leaders vow to support Ukraine’s fight, the challenge remains on how to assist Kyiv against Russia, which has significantly increased its military manpower and is rearming at a pace outstripping the West. Ukraine contends it is resisting a war of conquest by Russia, aimed at destroying its national identity, while Russia claims the territories it occupies in Ukraine have been integrated into Russia.