Russia issues new nuclear warning as contested Ukraine referendums end

Russian controlled regions in Ukraine
In the Russian-controlled city of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine on September 26, 2022, a man pushes his bicycle past banners informing of a referendum on the joining of Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine to Russia.

On Tuesday, an ally of Putin issued a strong new nuclear warning to Ukraine and the West, as Russia began announcing the results of referendums it claims are a prelude to annexing four Ukrainian regions.

However, a spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Reuters that Kyiv would not be deterred by nuclear threats or annexation votes and would continue with its intentions to reclaim all land that the Russian military had taken by invading Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Europe was investigating into claims made by Germany and Denmark that two Russian pipelines at the center of an energy standoff with Moscow had suffered attacks that resulted in significant leaks into the Baltic Sea. However, it was unclear who was behind the leaks.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s Security Council deputy chairman, delivered a nuclear warning on Tuesday, one of several made by Putin and his associates in recent weeks.

Mykhailo Podolyak, Zelenskiy’s advisor, dismissed the comments, telling Reuters in an interview: “We will continue our work to de-occupy our territory regardless.

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“We believe the war can only end when we have liberated our territory in the internationally recognized borders of 1991. We have no other scenarios,” he said.

The use of strategic or tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be greeted with immediate response, according to Podolyak, who said that the world’s nuclear powers should alert Russia to this.