Vladimir Putin putting Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert is an attempt to distract people from “what’s going wrong in Ukraine”, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said. Mr Wallace said Mr Putin was engaged in a “battle of rhetoric” by trying to “remind the world” he had a deterrent. He said Russia was “behind schedule” on its invasion of Ukraine and Ukrainians were putting up a “very strong fight”.
Mr Putin has said his order was due to “aggressive statements” by the West. But it attracted international condemnation, with the US branding it an “unacceptable escalation” and the EU later announced an unprecedented new raft of sanctions against Russia.
The announcement by Mr Putin does not mean Russia intends to use its nuclear weapons. Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Wallace sought to reassure viewers about the UK’s own nuclear weapons deterrent.
He said: “Britain is a nuclear power, we have a deterrent. That deterrent has kept our security for decades… it’s about deterrence and President Putin will know that anything involving a nuclear weapon has an equal or greater response from the West.
“It does keep us safe and that’s why I would say to parents up and down this country we will not do anything to escalate in that area.
“We will not do anything to feed any miscalculation. We take it very, very seriously.”