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EU chief diplomat: Must take seriously Putin’s nuclear weapons threat

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine are serious, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

In an interview with the BBC on Saturday, Borrell said the Russian war in Ukraine had reached a “dangerous moment” as the Russian army struggles in the seventh month of its invasion.

“Certainly it’s a dangerous moment because the Russian army has been pushed into a corner, and Putin’s reaction —  threatening using nuclear arms — it’s very bad,” Borrell said.

The Russian military has faced serious setbacks in recent weeks as Ukrainian forces mounted a counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region. The U.K. Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that Russian commanders have become “increasingly concerned” about difficulties on the battlefield.

Moscow has called for the mobilization of 300,000 reservists and Putin raised the specter of using nuclear weapons during an address on state TV on Wednesday.

“To defend Russia and our people, we doubtlessly will use all weapons resources at our disposal,” Putin said. “This is not a bluff.”

“When people say it is not a bluff, you have to take them seriously,” Borrell told the BBC on Saturday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Moscow knows there will be “severe consequences” if nuclear weapons are used in Ukraine.

“The likelihood of any use of nuclear weapons is still low, but the potential consequences are so big, so therefore we have to take this seriously,” Stoltenberg said on CNN. 

Russia is estimated to have nearly 5,977 nuclear warheads — the most in the world after the U.S. — according to the Federation of American Scientists.

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