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Putin ‘should be taken seriously’ over nuclear threats, EU says

Vladimir Putin’s dramatic new threat to deploy nuclear weapons must be taken seriously, the European Union’s foreign policy chief warned.

The world is at a “dangerous moment”, with the Russian president being “pushed into a corner” as a result of his failing war in Ukraine, Josep Borrell said.

After a massive counter-attack in northeastern Ukraine, leaving the fleeing Russian army thousands of miles of hard-fought gains, Mr Putin took the drastic step of announcing a partial mobilization of civilians in his first speech to the nation since the launch of his invasion seven months. past.

The Russian leader fueled fears of a descent into an apocalyptic nuclear war, accusing the West of “nuclear blackmail” and saying Moscow was ready to “use every means at our disposal,” adding, “I’m not bluffing. “

Speaking to the UKTN as a week of intense discussion about the war at the United Nations General Assembly in New York came to an end, the EU’s foreign policy chief warned on Saturday: “When people say it’s not bluff, you should take them seriously.”

Borrell added: “It is certainly a dangerous moment because the Russian military has been pushed into a corner and Putin’s response – threatening with nuclear weapons – is very bad.”

The bloc’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy said a “diplomatic solution” to the war must be reached with Mr Putin, one who “preserves Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Mr Borrell called on Putin to play his part in reaching a negotiated solution, saying that “to dance the tango you need two”, while lamenting the Kremlin’s relentless response to diplomatic efforts.

“Everyone who went to Moscow, to the Kremlin to talk to Putin, came back with the same answer: ‘I [Putin] have military targets, and if I don’t get them, I’ll fight on.” This is certainly a worrying direction, but we must continue to support Ukraine,” Borrell said.

Speaking to the UN this week via video link, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky stated that Russia’s attack on Kiev had led to “a war for life” as he outlined five terms for a peace deal with Russia, including that Moscow would be stripped of his position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Full speech: Zelensky tells UN Ukraine is ready for ‘real, fair and just peace’

After the speech, Borrell announced that the EU would prepare to impose new sanctions on Russia and heed Zelensky’s new call for increased military support to Ukraine.

Borrell denounced Putin’s “cynical” threat to use nuclear weapons as “a real danger to the entire world,” Borrell said that out of “panic and desperation” the Russian president appeared to be doubling down on a “failing strategy”.

This month’s highly effective Ukrainian counterattack appears to have seriously shocked Mr Putin. Kiev’s forces recaptured large parts of the Kharkov region and re-entered Luhansk in a symbolic victory that overturned Mr Putin’s declared war goal of seizing control of the Donbas region.

In an apparent effort to bolster Moscow’s existing gains in the face of the rapidly advancing Ukrainian counter-attack, Mr Putin announced this week that referendums on accession to Russia would be held in four regions held by Moscow-backed forces.

When voting began on Friday in Luhansk, Kherson and the partially Russian-controlled regions of Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk, journalists and officials reported that armed groups had been sent to search houses and force people to go outside and participate in the referendum.

The results of the votes — widely labeled a sham — will be announced Tuesday, in a move that will significantly escalate the war. Putin’s nuclear threats have come as Moscow has repeatedly warned that any attack on the newly annexed regions would be considered an attack on Russian territory.

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