Putin says he currently sees no threat to Russia that would justify the use of nuclear weapons National News

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — President Vladimir Putin said Friday he sees no current threat to Russian sovereignty that would justify the use of nuclear weapons, but again warned Moscow against sending weapons to states or others to strike Western targets.

Speaking at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Putin said the use of nuclear weapons is possible only in “exceptional cases” and that he does not believe “such a case has occurred.”

But he reiterated a warning he made days earlier that Moscow “reserves the right” to arm Western adversaries in response to some NATO allies allowing Ukraine to use their weapons to attack targets in Russia.

“If they supply weapons to the combat zone and call for the use of these weapons against our territory, why don’t we have the right to do the same?” Putin asked.

“But I am not ready to say that we will do that tomorrow,” Putin added, suggesting this could affect global stability.

He did not specify where such weapons might be sent.

The United States and Germany recently gave Kiev permission to strike some targets on Russian territory with the long-range weapons they supply to Kiev.

On Wednesday, a Western official and a U.S. senator said Ukraine has used U.S. weapons to invade Russia under President Joe Biden’s newly approved leadership, which allows U.S. weapons to be used for the limited purpose of defending Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest largest city in Ukraine. The official was not authorized to comment publicly on the sensitive matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Putin made the comments during a question-and-answer session with a pro-Kremlin moderator at the forum, which has been used by Russia for decades as a showcase for touting the country’s development and attracting investors.

Earlier in a speech, he said the Russian economy is growing despite tough international sanctions and that Moscow has growing economic ties with countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Putin said Russia “remains one of the most important participants in world trade” despite being subject to sweeping sanctions imposed for sending troops to Ukraine and cutting off much of Russia’s trade with West -Europe, the US and their allies.

The main driver of Russian economic growth is the fighting in Ukraine – which is now of economic and political importance to the Kremlin.

Russians find a few imported staples, and most global brands have disappeared – or reincarnated as Russian equivalents. But other than that, not much has changed economically for most people. The enormous state expenditure on military equipment and high payments to volunteer soldiers have given the economy a strong boost.

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