Volodymyr Zelensky says world must prepare for Russian nuclear attack

Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia could ‘use any weapon’ (Picture: Rex / AP)

The world should brace itself for the possibility Vladimir Putin could use nuclear weapons in his war against Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.

He has urged countries to stock up on anti-radiation treatment and build air raid shelters as ‘Russia could use any weapon’.

The chilling caution came during an appeal to the West to supply his country with arms following seven weeks of brutal fighting.

‘Chemical weapons, they should do it, they could do it, for them the life of the people, nothing,’ he told CNN.

‘We should think not to be afraid, not to be afraid but be ready. But that is not a question for Ukraine, not only for Ukraine but for all the world, I think.’

Speaking to Ukrainian media, he added that countries should prepare for the worst-case scenario.

The war leader said: ‘We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons. We must prepare for that.’

Ukrainian officials estimate 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died since Putin first invaded the country in February.

This is in comparison to Russia’s 19,000 to 20,000 casualties, although these numbers could not be independently verified.

There are some 10,000 servicemen who are battling injuries, but it is ‘hard to say how many will survive’, Mr Zelensky said.

He was also unsure of the total civilian death toll after mass graves were found near Kyiv.

‘It is very difficult to talk about civilians since the south of our country, where the town and cities are blocked – Kherson, Berdyansk, Mariupol further east, and the area to the east where Volnovakha is – we just don’t know how many people have died in that area that is blocked,’ the president said.

Russia last month repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility it could use nuclear weapons.

Putin’s chief secretary Dmitry Peskov suggested they could be considered if there was an ‘existential threat for our country’.

The Russian president also implied he could take this step in a televised statement in February.

He said: ‘No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.’

But Boris Johnson previously dismissed threats when Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrents were placed on high alert.

In February, he described the move as ‘a distraction from the reality of what’s going on in Ukraine’.

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