He made the remarks on Thursday while addressing the annual Valdai forum after a series of recent military defeats in Ukraine and growing public anger at home over a drive to mobilise some 300,000 Russians for the war effort, reports the BBC.
In a wide-ranging speech, he sought to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a move that has left his country internationally isolated.
Putin also accused the West of nuclear blackmail against Russia to force allies to turn away from Moscow.
The day before his address in Moscow, Putin had overseen routine nuclear exercises that involved a supposed nuclear strike in retaliation for an enemy’s massive nuclear attack.
“We’ve never proactively said anything about Russia’s possible use of nuclear weapons. We’ve only responded with hints to comments voiced by the leaders of Western countries,” the BBC quoted the President as saying.
Putin singled out former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss for suggesting during an August campaign event that she would be ready to press the nuclear button if circumstances required her to do so.
The President said he was surprised the UK’s allies did not object: “What were we supposed to do? Keep silent? Pretend that we didn’t hear it?”
He also repeated his recent attacks on the West, and what he called its “dangerous, bloody and dirty game” of denying countries their sovereignty and uniqueness, the BBC reported.
The West’s “undivided dominance” over world affairs was now coming to an end, Putin asserted.
“We’re 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.”
The West was no more able to be in charge, but was “desperately trying” to do so, the President said, adding that the “future world order is being formed before our eyes”, and accused the West, led by the US, of trying to destroy Russia.
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