UK warns Russia that use of nuclear weapons ‘will not begin without a response’

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley has warned Russia that any use of nuclear weapons will have consequences.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in a speech that all weapons in Russia’s arsenal could be used if its territory was threatened.

Putin did not specifically call for the use of nuclear weapons, but other Russian officials have made it more explicit, including former President Dmitry Medvedev and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

At a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday, Cleverley said:

He refused to discuss “natures and limits.”

“We need to make it clear that his string of strategic errors must be stopped,” he said. “We will continue to support Ukrainians in defending their homeland and uphold international rules and norms.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow on September 30, 2022 to formally annex four regions of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces. (Grigory Sysoyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

“Nuclear Rhetoric”

In a speech a few weeks ago, Putin said: “If our territorial integrity is threatened, we will definitely use all necessary means to protect Russia and its people. Not a bluff.”

Russia subsequently annexed four occupied regions of Ukraine following a so-called “referendum” whose legality was denied by Ukraine and Western governments.

The Times of London reported Monday that the NATO military alliance has warned member states that President Putin is ready to demonstrate his willingness to use nuclear weapons by conducting a nuclear test on Ukraine’s border.

The newspaper also reported that Russia had moved a train believed to be linked to the Defense Ministry unit in charge of nuclear weapons.

When asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia did not want to participate in what he described as Western exercises in “nuclear rhetoric.”

“Strategic Endurance”

Later on Tuesday, Cleverley told a Tory conference that Britain had the “strategic endurance” to lead Ukraine to victory.

He said: “We believe in freedom. We believe in the rule of law. Stand shoulder to shoulder with the brave Ukrainians who defend the

He said Ukrainians had defended their homeland “furiously” and their courage was “amplified” by the weapons and training provided by Britain.

With £2.3bn spent on Ukraine’s war effort in 2022, the UK is already one of Ukraine’s second largest military donors after the US.

Last month, Prime Minister Liz Truss promised to match that figure for at least the next year.

PA Media and Reuters contributed to this report.

Alexander Chan