Putin warns the West that Russia is 'ready' for nuclear war: 'Weapons exist in order to use them'

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned the West that his country was ready for a nuclear war and said that he would consider the U.S. sending troops to Ukraine as a significant escalation of the war.

“From a military-technical point of view, we are, of course, ready,” Putin told state media Rossiya-1 television and news agency RIA after he was asked about a potential nuclear war.

The Russian president said he knows the U.S. is aware that deploying troops to Ukraine or on Russian territory would be viewed by Moscow as intervening in the war. He also urged “strategic restraint.”

The comments come after the Pentagon announced Tuesday that it is sending approximately $300 million in weapons to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned the West that his country was technically ready for nuclear war. (Sergei SAVOSTYANOV / POOL / AFP )

In his comments, Putin added that he was neither “rushing” to use nuclear weapons nor did he believe their use in Ukraine was necessary.

“Therefore, I don’t think that everything here is rushing to it [nuclear confrontation], but we are ready for this,” he added.

Putin has warned several times since Russia invaded Ukraine more than two years ago that the West risks a nuclear war if it sends troops to fight in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin said Russia would consider the U.S. sending troops to Ukraine a significant escalation of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. (GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Putin explained the potential use of nuclear weapons was outlined in the Kremlin’s nuclear doctrine.

“Weapons exist in order to use them,” Putin said. “We have our own principles.”

Putin said in the interview on Wednesday that if the U.S. conducted nuclear tests, Russia might conduct tests as well.

“It’s not necessary … we still need to think about it, but I don’t rule out that we can do the same,” he said.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin sits in chair with suit

Putin has warned several times since Russia invaded Ukraine more than two years ago that the West risks a nuclear war if it sends troops to fight in Ukraine. ((Photo by ALEXANDER KAZAKOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images))

The Russian leader said Russia had never been presented with a need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine since the war began.

“Why do we need to use weapons of mass destruction? There has never been such a need,” Putin said.

In recent months, Putin suggested a ceasefire in Ukraine to pause the war, but it was rejected by the U.S. after contacts between intermediaries.

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The Russian president reiterated Wednesday that Russia was prepared to engage in serious talks regarding Ukraine.

“Russia is ready for negotiations on Ukraine, but they should be based on reality,” he said.

Russia and the U.S. are the biggest nuclear powers in the world, together controlling more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Western leaders have promised that Russia will be defeated in its fight in Ukraine, but Russian forces continue to control nearly one-fifth of Ukrainian territory.

Reuters contributed to this report.