Liz Truss was “crazy” when she raised concerns about nuclear weapons, Vladimir Putin has claimed.
During a major speech in Moscow, the Russian president hit out at the UK’s former prime minister.
He said she must have been “a bit out of it” and he claimed to have “never said anything proactively about possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia”.
“We have only hinted in response to statements made by Western leaders,” he added.
During her address to the UN General Assembly in September, Ms Truss had labelled President Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons as “sabre-rattling”.
Speaking during a live, televised debate in Moscow on Thursday, Mr Putin also accused the West of playing a “dangerous, dirty and deadly game” in Ukraine – and he warned the era of Western domination was over.
In the discussion, entitled A Post-Hegemonic World: Justice and Security For Everyone, the Russian president sought to cast the blame for the conflict in Ukraine on Western countries alone.
‘We didn’t do it’
“We were not the ones to organise a coup d’état in Ukraine, which resulted in our special military operations,” he said. “We are not the ones who did it.
“It’s the West that has driven us to this point,” he said. “I advocate democratic relations.”
The seductive story of ‘poor Russia’ ignores the real victim
For a leader keen on projecting strength and asserting Russia’s place in the world, Vladimir Putin is remarkably good at playing the victim.
In his version of events, it is never Russia who is to blame for what is happening in Ukraine or the nuclear precipice the world seems to be standing on.
In his narrative it is always poor, put-upon Russia struggling valiantly to hold its own against a marauding West determined to upend things.
And in that narrative, it is Russia’s President who endeavours nobly to defend his own people from this amorphous western threat.
It is a seductive story, repeated so often that it is almost a mantra across much of Russia.
It is compelling enough, too, that it chimes with many in the global South, in places where people have their own gripes with NATO, the US and the legacy of western imperialism.
It is also, as the British Foreign Secretary tweeted earlier, “unclear, untrue and unedifying”.
The real victims here are those millions caught up in the catastrophe unfolding in Ukraine. They would still have their homes, their lives, their livelihoods were it not for Vladimir Putin’s decision on 24 February to send troops into their country.
Whatever he says, no one compelled him to do that.
He told the gathered audience, he would “never put up with” what the rest of the world tells him to do.
Repeatedly using the term “special military operation” to describe the war, he also warned: “He who will sow the wind, will reap the whirlwind.”
‘Under Western thumb’
Mr Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on 24 February, and has often claimed Western support for Ukraine is part of wider efforts by Washington and its allies to enforce what they call a rules-based world order – one he rejects.
“We tried to set up relations with the West and NATO, to make friends with them,” he said, “but the West imposes sanctions against those who don’t want to be under their thumb.”
As he spoke, China announced it was willing to deepen its relationship with Russia – and said any attempt to block the two countries moving forward would “never succeed”.
Mr Putin responded by saying Russia’s relations with China were at an “unprecedented level” and he called China’s President Xi Jinping a “close friend”.