Putin warns Russia may provide long-range weapons to allies to hit Western targets

President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that Russia could provide long-range weapons to other countries to use on Western targets as tensions rise over the war in Ukraine — as Russian warships head to the Caribbean in a show of force.

Putin asserted recent actions taken by the West could cause “very serious issues” and hinted that Moscow would use nuclear weapons if its authority came under threat.

“That would mark their direct involvement in the war against the Russian Federation, and we reserve the right to act the same way,” Putin told a group of international journalists at the St. Petersburg forum.

His doomsday warning comes as both the US and Germany gave Ukraine the greenlight to use weapons they supplied to hit some targets in Russian territory.

Putin warned on Wednesday that Russia could supply other countries with weapons to use on Western targets. POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Putin claimed that if Ukraine was using Western weapons, those countries were choosing what was being targeted, meaning Moscow could take “asymmetrical” steps elsewhere in the world.

While President Biden has allowed Ukraine to use American weapons to protect Kharkiv, the US military said it does not control the missiles it provides or the targets.

“If they consider it possible to deliver such weapons to the combat zone to launch strikes on our territory and create problems for us, why don’t we have the right to supply weapons of the same type to some regions of the world where they can be used to launch strikes on sensitive facilities of the countries that do it to Russia?” Putin said.

“We will think about it,” he added.

Russian warships are headed to the Caribbean in a show of force as tensions continue to rise over Western support for Ukraine. REUTERS

Putin also seemed to hint that Russia was open to turning to nuclear weapons if it felt it was threatened.

“For some reason, they believe in the West that Russia will never use it,” he said.

“Look at what is written there,” he said, referring to Russia’s nuclear doctrine. “If somebody’s actions threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity, we consider it possible to use all means at our disposal.”

Putin’s comments come as US tracking data shows Russian warships and aircraft are headed to the Caribbean to conduct military exercises, with ships expected to make port calls in Venezuela and Cuba.

The U.S. military has been tracking the arrival of the Russian warships. POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The exercise, which two senior Biden officials told AP was notable but not concerning, will involve a “handful” of Russian ships and support vessels. It will also be monitored by the US military.

The officials added that the exercise was “certainly” part of a broader Russian response to the US support for Ukraine, but is also a push by Putin to show his navy is still a global power — even after losing several ships to Ukrainian strikes.

Russia did not inform the US of the upcoming exercise, but the Navy has been tracking the ships’ movements, the officials said.

The ships will likely remain in the region through the summer and continue to conduct similar exercises.

With Post wires

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