Russia threatens to strike British military sites over Cameron’s Ukraine weapons pledge

British ambassador called to the foreign ministry in Moscow

Alastair Jamieson
Tuesday 07 May 2024 16:05 BST
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Ukraine has the right to strike inside Russia, says Cameron on visit to war-torn country

Russia has threatened to strike British military facilities and said it will hold drills simulating the use of battlefield nuclear weapons in response to UK weapons being used by Ukraine to strike its territory.

British ambassador Nigel Casey was called to the foreign ministry in Moscow for a formal protest following foreign secretary David Cameron’s comments last week that Ukraine had the right to use British weapons to strike Russia.

Mr Casey was warned that “in response to Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory with British weapons, any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and abroad”,  could be targeted, the ministry said, calling Lord Cameron’s remarks a serious escalation.

“The ambassador was called upon to reflect on the inevitable catastrophic consequences of such hostile steps by London and immediately refute the belligerent provocative statements of the head of the foreign office in the most decisive and unambiguous way,” the Russian Foreign ministry said.

It came on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration to a fifth term in office and as Msocow prepared to mark Victory Day on Thursday – its most important secular holiday, marking its defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

Vladimir Putin meets his government ministers in Moscow on Monday
Vladimir Putin meets his government ministers in Moscow on Monday (Getty Images)

It is the first time Russia has publicly announced drills involving tactical nuclear weapons, although its strategic nuclear forces regularly hold exercises.

Tactical nuclear weapons include air bombs, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery munitions and are meant for use on a battlefield. They are less powerful than the strategic weapons – massive warheads that arm intercontinental ballistic missiles and are intended to obliterate cities.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric expressed concern that various parties have been talking about issues regarding nuclear weapons recently.

“Current nuclear risks are at an alarmingly high level,” he said. “All actions that could lead to miscalculation, escalation with catastrophic consequences, must be avoided.”

Britain’s foreign office said Mr Casey had used the meeting to restate Britain’s support for Ukraine.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

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