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Putin again threatens to use nuclear weapons, claims Russia's arsenal "much more" advanced than America's

Putin warns about nuclear forces in address
Putin warns about nuclear forces, new weapons in annual address 04:16

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia's nuclear triad — its three-pronged arsenal of weapons launched from land, sea and air — was "much more" advanced than that of the United States. 

"Our triad, the nuclear triad, it is more modern than any other triad. Only we and the Americans actually have such triads. And we have advanced much more here," Putin said in an interview on state TV.

Putin's nuclear war rhetoric

Putin said Moscow's nuclear weapons are fully ready and "from the military-technical viewpoint, we're prepared" to use them in case there's a threat to "the existence of the Russian state, our sovereignty and independence," according to The Associated Press.

The tough talk comes before a presidential election this week that Putin is almost assured of winning to give him another six-year term.

In this pool photograph distributed by Russia's state agency Sputnik, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen during an interview by the RIA Novosti state news agency at the Kremlin on March 12, 2024. GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

The Kremlin has touted Russia's nuclear prowess throughout its two-year full-scale invasion of Ukraine, warning Western countries last month there was a "real" risk of nuclear catastrophe if they were to escalate the conflict by sending troops.

The West has accused Russia of reckless nuclear rhetoric since it launched its assault on Ukraine in February 2022.

Moscow is thought to possess over 5,000 nuclear warheads, the largest stockpile in the world.

Putin says NATO troops in Ukraine would "not change the situation"

In the same interview, Putin said Western countries sending troops to Ukraine wouldn't change the situation on the battlefield.

"If we talk about official military contingents of foreign countries, I am sure it will not change the situation on the battlefield. That is the most important thing. Just as supplying arms does not change anything," Putin said.

His comments came after French leader Emmanuel Macron last month declined to rule out putting boots on the ground, a significant shift in rhetoric as Ukraine struggles on the battlefield.

While Macron has since doubled down on his remarks, several of Ukraine's allies — including Washington — have distanced themselves from the idea, which stunned many in Europe.

Ukrainian town under siege pleads for military aid 03:10

Ukraine has ceded ground to Russian forces in recent months as it faces a myriad of shortages, from artillery to air defenses, in part because a $60 billion aid package remains held up in the U.S. Congress.

In a stopgap effort to provide what aid it can, the Pentagon said Tuesday it will rush about $300 million in weapons to Ukraine after finding some cost savings in its contracts.

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