Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Russia accuses West of 'total hybrid war' despite threatening to nuke UK in seconds
14 May 2022, 13:02 | Updated: 14 May 2022, 18:17
Russia has accused the West of launching a "total hybrid war" after making a second threat to fire nuclear weapons at Britain.
Listen to this article
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the consequences of the war in Ukraine will be felt around the world.
But he warned on Saturday: "Western politicians should understand their efforts to isolate our country are in vain."
He said in a speech: "The collective West has announced a total hybrid war on us.
"It is difficult to forecast how long this will all last, but it is clear that the consequences will be felt by everybody without exception."
It comes as Putin told Finland's president in a phone call on Saturday morning that abandoning neutrality and joining Nato would be a "mistake".
Finland and Sweden's efforts to join the alliance were earlier stalled when Turkish President Erdogan said he could not support their entry bids due to Kurdish terrorist organisations operating in both countries.
Aleksey Zhuravlyov, deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's defence committee, said it was "absolutely legitimate" to "question the existence" of Finland after the country made a bid to join Nato.
The 59-year-old Putin ally told reporters that Finland "should be grateful to Russia for the fact that Finland exists" after threatening to turn the US and UK into "nuclear ashes".
Speaking on Russian state TV Zhuravlyov said: "If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate - to question the existence of this state. This is logical.
"If the United States threatens our state, it's good: here is the Sarmat [Satan-2 missile] for you, and there will be nuclear ashes from you if you think that Russia should not exist. And Finland says that it is at one with the USA. Well, get in line.
"The Finns in general should be grateful to Russia for their statehood, for the fact that Finland exists as a country."
When asked whether nuclear weapons would need to be moved to the border with Finland if they are successful in joining Nato, he replied: "What for? We don't need to.
"We can hit with a Sarmat from Siberia, and even reach the UK.
"And if we strike from Kaliningrad... the hypersonic's reaching time is 200 seconds - so go ahead, guys.
"On the Finnish border we will have not strategic weapons, but Kinzhal-class, one that will reach Finland in 20 seconds, or even 10 seconds."
On Saturday the Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told Vladimir Putin that the militarily non-aligned Nordic country that shares a long border with Russia "will decide to apply for Nato membership in the coming days".
Mr Niinisto's office said in a statement that he spoke to the Russian president in a phone conversation how Finland's security environment had changed after Moscow's
February 24 invasion of Ukraine, and pointed to Moscow's demands for Finland to refrain from seeking membership in the 30-member western military alliance.
"The discussion (with Putin) was straightforward and unambiguous and was held without exaggeration. Avoiding tensions was considered important," said Mr Niinisto, Finland's president since 2012 and one of few western leaders who has held regular dialogue with Mr Putin over the past 10 years.
He pointed out that he told Mr Putin at their first meeting in 2012 that "each independent nation would maximise its own security".
"That is still the case. By joining Nato, Finland will strengthen its own security and assume its responsibilities. It is not something away from anybody," Mr Niinisto said.
He stressed that Finland, despite its likely membership of Nato, wants to continue to deal with Russia bilaterally in "practical issues generated by the border neighbourhood" and hopes to engage with Moscow "in a professional manner".
The phone call was conducted on Finland's initiative, Mr Niinisto's office said. The statement did not disclose any comments from Mr Putin or the Kremlin on the conversation.
Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, the longest of any European Union member.
It is the second nuclear threat made by Russia after state media warned the UK could be wiped off the map if Vladimir Putin were to launch a nuclear attack using an "underwater robot drone".
Dmitry Kiselyov, dubbed Putin’s propagandist-in-chief, broadcast a bizarre video on Russian TV in which he threatened the Kremlin will attack Britain with a hypersonic missile and an "underwater robot drone", known as Poseidon.
Kiselyov said: "What will happen after Boris Johnson’s words about a retaliatory strike on Russia?
"Why do they threaten vast Russia with nuclear weapons while they are only a small island?
"The island is so small that one Sarmat missile is enough to drown it once and for all. Russian missile Sarmat [aka Satan-2], the world most powerful…is capable of … destroying an area the size of Texas or England.
"A single launch, Boris, and there is no England anymore. Once and for all. Why do they play games?"
The threat comes as Russian troops are withdrawing from Ukraine's second-largest city after weeks of heavy bombardment.
Ukraine's general staff said the Russians were pulling back from the north-eastern city of Kharkiv and focusing on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and air strikes in the eastern Donetsk region to "deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications".
Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine is "entering a new - long-term - phase of the war".
As the country's top prosecutor put a Russian soldier on trial for war crimes, the first of dozens that could face charges, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainians were doing their "maximum" to drive out the invaders and that the outcome of the war would depend on support from Europe and other allies.
"No one today can predict how long this war will last," he said in his nightly video address on Friday.
Russia's offensive in Donbas, Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland, appeared to be turning into a village-by-village, back-and-forth slog with no major breakthroughs on either side.
After failing to capture Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, the Russian military decided to concentrate on the Donbas, but its troops have struggled to gain ground.
Mr Zelenskyy said Ukraine's forces had made progress, retaking six Ukrainian towns or villages in the past day.