Watch Update : Putin threatens ‘lightning fast’ retaliation if nations intervene; UK says West must ‘double down’ on Ukraine support, UK says Russia-Ukraine war: Putin using energy as weapon, says Zelenskiy; Russia could become ‘cancerous growth’ in Ukraine
Speaking to lawmakers in St Petersburg on Wednesday, he said countries aiding Ukraine would face a “lightning-fast” military response.
“If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside, they must know that constitutes an unacceptable strategic threat to Russia,” he said We have all the instruments [to respond] that no one can boast of … we’re going to use them if we have to,” he said, in what has widely been seen as an allusion to Russia’s arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.
Russia shocked the European community by halting gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday because they had refused to pay for the gas in Russian rubles, as Moscow demanded.
The move comes as tensions remain high between Western allies and Russia after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said the threat of a nuclear war is very significant and the risks should not be underestimated.
The Europeans have, I think, genuinely ambitious plans to move away from this reliance on Russian energy. The challenge is to put them into effect,” Blinken said at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Around half of Russia’s 4.7 million barrels per day of crude exports go to the EU. Cutting them off would deprive Moscow of a major revenue stream.
“I think you are likely to see in the coming weeks further progress on the oil side of the equation in terms of Russian imports. Gas is a bigger challenge,” he added.