Vladimir Putin has upped the ante in Ukraine by warning any foreign interference in would be met with “lightning fast” retaliation with the “tools” needed. The nuclear threat follows the West’s pledge to support Ukraine with additional weaponry deliveries aimed at stalling Russian troops’ advances. While some military commanders have dismissed the nuclear threat as unlikely, former KGB member Sergueï Jirnov warned the risk is real. Speaking to French broadcaster LCI, Mr Jirnov said: “Putin is the most dangerous man in the world today.”
“Because he takes himself seriously. Because in fact, he plagiarises. He plagiarises from Trump.”
“You remember Trump saying the same thing to North Korea.”
Former American President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un engaged in a war of words in 2017 over North Korea’s missile tests in what was seen as the most dangerous standoff involving nuclear weapons since the Cuban missile crisis.
Trump notoriously threatened “little rocket man” Kim Jong-un, saying: “My nuclear button is bigger and more powerful.”
Mr Jirnov continued: “If the rocket man wants to get him, he’ll get a lightning (nuclear) response. And he (Putin) says exactly the same thing.”
“Except that he (Putin) added: ‘We don’t threaten, we will use it.”
READ MORE: Rhetoric intensifying’ Putin ‘preparing his people’ to war extension
The Russian foreign ministry warned Ukraine’s strikes at an oil storage facility in a city at the Ukraine-Russia border “will be met with a harsh response.”
Whether the “outside interference” Putin mentioned in his speech also refers to foreign military deliveries remains unclear. In a major policy U-turn, the German parliament has approved a petition to deliver heavy arms to Ukraine, challenging a long-standing policy of not exporting arms to war zones.