Putin says Russia cannot ignore NATO’s nuclear weapons

Vladimir Putin on Sunday warned that Russia had no choice but to ­take into account Nato’s nuclear capabilities. The Kremlin tyrant cast his confrontation with the West as a battle for the survival of Russia and ­its people.

Referring to the West in more sabre-rattling words, Putin said: “They have one goal – to disband the former Soviet Union and its ­fundamental part, the Russian Federation.”

The interview, on state television, was recorded last Wednesday, but only issued on Sunday.

It came as Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky showed off his war rooms – with a bust of Second World War hero Sir Winston Churchill on ­his desk.

Putin claimed the West wanted to divide up Russia and then control the world’s biggest producer of raw materials.

That, he said, could well lead to the destruction of many of the peoples of Russia, including the ethnic Russian majority.

“I do not even know if such an ethnic group as the Russian people will be able to survive in the form in which it exists today,” he added.

The US has denied that it wants to destroy Russia. President Joe Biden has warned that a conflict with Nato could trigger World War Three, though he has also said Putin should not remain in power.

In Kyiv, President Zelensky gave an insight into his top-secret war rooms inside a bunker where he has lived for the past year.

After marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, he showed Ukrainians around the small space where he makes vital decisions, holds crunch meetings and phones heads of state.

On his desk lay models of planes and a photograph of him and his wife Olena, along with their two children and the bust of Churchill. In other developments on Sunday, China refused to condemn Russia’s Ukraine invasion, leading to bitter deadlock at a G20 summit in Bangalore, India.

It left the high-profile meeting of finance ministers unable to make a decision over calling out the war. Amid mounting acrimony, the Kremlin instead accused the West of destabilising the meeting and being “anti-Russian”.

Beijing has continued to step up its diplomacy efforts surrounding the conflict. China has published a plan to end the conflict, but this has been viewed by some as too pro-Russian.

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