A number of Western powers have hit back at President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia after he declared that Moscow was in a battle with “Western elites,” not with the West itself, and denied that Moscow was preparing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin, addressing an annual foreign policy conference outside Moscow on Thursday, also repeated Russia’s unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine was preparing to detonate a “dirty bomb” to spread radioactive material on its territory and then blame Moscow.
Here are some responses to his speech:
“If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it?” President Biden said in an interview with NewsNation on Thursday, noting that Mr. Putin had himself raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons. “He’s been very dangerous in how he’s approached this.”
“In Putin’s speech, true is false, and false is true,” said Nabila Massrali, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm. “Let me just remind you of some facts. The fact is that it is Russia who is waging an unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine. The fact is that it’s Russian armed forces that are behind serious atrocities and war crimes against the civilian population of Ukraine, women and children.” Among other examples, she went on to say that with regard to Russia’s accusations about a dirty bomb, “the fact is that Russia has a history of making unfounded claims.
“Putin’s message today to the Russian people is unclear, untrue and unedifying,” James Cleverly, Britain’s foreign secretary, wrote on Twitter. “What is crystal clear, is our message to the world: Aggressors must not be able to invade their neighbours with impunity. We will resolutely support Ukraine in its fight for freedom and democracy.”