Strategic nuclear strikes may be used to defend territories seized by Russia, its former Prime Minister and President Dmitry Medvedev has said.
The threat was made on Thursday ahead of referendums due to be held in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, about being incorporated into the Kremlin’s reach.
This comes after Vladimir Putin suggested upwards of 250,000 men between the ages of 18-65 may be mobilised. Russia banned airlines from selling tickets to men of that age, to prevent them fleeing an impending draft.
On Wednesday, five Brits were released and returned to the UK as part of a prisoner exchange.
The votes have been widely branded a ‘sham’ and will not be internationally recognised, but Russia’s former president instead once they vote for the change, as they are expected to do, “there is no going back”.
“The Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk) republics and other territories will be accepted into Russia.”
Medvedev, who is now Moscow’s deputy chairman of its Security Council, said: “Russia has announced that not only mobilisation capabilities, but also any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used for such protection.”
UK Ambassador Neil Bush called planned elections in Ukraine a charade, and part mobilisation admission that the “invasion is failing.”
He said Britain “will never recognise any Russian attempts to purportedly annex part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory” as he condemned both Putin and Medvedev’s “sabre-rattling”.