Watch: Former advisor to Vladimir Putin says West will be to blame for nuclear war in BBC rant
Vladimir Putin’s televised warning that he is ready to use nuclear weapons was aimed at the UK and London, one of his former advisors has said.
Sergei Markov claimed Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are "fully responsible for the war in Ukraine" in an extraordinary rant on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
It comes after Putin announced on Russian TV that some 300,000 reservists would be called up to join the invasion, which in recent weeks has seen Moscow put on the back foot.
Having been pushed back by Ukrainian forces while suffering heavy losses, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said the call-to-arms, was an "admission that his invasion is failing".
But on Wednesday morning, Markov tried to deflect blame from Russia and suggested meddling by Britain and the US may result in a nuclear war that "could kill a lot of people" in Western countries.
He said Ukraine is "occupied by Western countries" who are using Ukrainian soldiers "as their slaves" by utilising them as a ‘proxy army’.
"This nuclear war could be the result of crazy behaviour of the president of the United States Joe Biden and prime ministers of Great Britain Boris Johnson and Liz Truss," Markov added.
"Biden, Johnson and Truss are fully responsible for the war in Ukraine."
Markov added: "It was absolutely clear that Russia has no war against Ukraine.
"Russia has no reason to use technical nuclear weapons against Ukrainians. Ukrainians are our brothers but Ukrainians are occupied by Western countries."
The former Duma deputy said he thinks peace is still "possible", but added: "People in London should understand, this threat comes from Liz Truss, who is an aggressor."
Markov became rattled when show host Justin Webb said that contrary to the Kremlin’s description of the attack on Ukraine as a special military operation, it is an invasion in reality.
He shouted: "No, no, it’s liberation of Ukraine. It’s exactly as we liberated Ukraine from occupation from Nazi regime, now we’re liberating Ukraine from your British and American, occupation.
"You are occupiers, you overthrow democratically elected president of Ukraine, you impose regime, you support nuclear terrorism."
Foreign Office minister Gillian Keegan described Markov’s remarks as "more of Putin’s lies, a complete re-writing of history" and "a bit of sabre rattling".
She told the programme: "Talk of nuclear war is very unhelpful and we would urge calm. It’s a serious threat but it’s one that’s been made before."
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When asked if she thought Putin really meant what he says, Keegan said: "How can you get evidence of a bluff? It’s impossible to get evidence of a bluff."
Keegan said Putin’s threatening address to the nation was "very bad news. for the people of Russia as well as Ukraine and the West".
She added: "Today the Russian people are waking up to not only the fact that 55,000 of their troops have already lost their lives in this short six month conflict, but that others will be conscripted into the Donbas.
"Just to put that into context, that’s about the same amount of soldiers that were lost in the Vietnam War over 10 years by the Americans."
But despite Russia’s heavy losses, Keegan emphasised that Ukraine has "been on the end of this aggression" and has "paid a terrible price", with ever-growing evidence of war crimes against civilians.
Asked if it would be for the best if Putin is overthrown, she said: "I can’t comment on that and it certainly will be for the Russian people to make that decision, and certainly wouldn’t be a decision that I would make."