Cleverly slaps down Putin as Russian leader gives rambling speech

Putin: Russia 'will never make peace' with an 'aggressive' West

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James Cleverly has hit out at Vladimir Putin after the Russian President gave a rambling speech today. The Foreign Secretary branded Mr Putin’s address on Thursday as “unclear, untrue and unedifying”.

The Russian leader took part in a more than three-and-a-half-hour question-and-answer session at the annual Valdai forum.

In the wide-ranging speech, Mr Putin sought to justify his brutal invasion of Ukraine and heavily criticised the West.

But Mr Cleverly said: “Putin’s message today to the Russian people is unclear, untrue and unedifying.

“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.”

During his speech, Mr Putin warned the world faces “probably the most dangerous” decade since the end of Second World War.

He said: “The historical period of the West’s undivided dominance over world affairs is coming to an end.

“We are standing at a historical frontier.

“Ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War Two.”

Mr Putin insisted Russia had not threatened to use nuclear weapons and had only responded to the West.

It comes amid concerns Moscow could turn to nuclear weapons as it struggles to make ground in Ukraine.

Mr Putin said: “We’ve never said anything proactively about possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia.

“We have only hinted in response to those statements that the Western leaders have made.

Singling out former PM Liz Truss, Mr Putin continued: “Liz Truss, the ex-prime minister of the United Kingdom, she said it directly.

“In her conversation with a representative of the media, she said that the UK is a nuclear power and the prime minister has, in their mandate, the possible use of nuclear weapons.

“I’m not quoting her and she said that she’s prepared to do that. And no one responded in any way.

“Well, she just made a folly, she was a bit out of it.

“But can you say these things publicly? Well, even if she said it, someone should have corrected that.

“Washington, for example, could have said that they have nothing to do with that.”

It was not immediately clear what comments Mr Putin was referring to, but during the Tory leadership contest over the summer Ms Truss had been asked about the potential use of nuclear weapons.

Asked during a hustings event how she would feel about having to make decisions on nuclear warfare, she said: “I think it is an important duty of the prime minister, I am ready to do that.”

Mr Putin also insisted Russia was fighting to protect the people of the Donbas, referring to two of the four Ukrainian provinces he annexed last month.

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