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Putin has warned “lightning-fast” and deadly response to any country intervene in Ukraine

Newsman: Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that any threats made by countries interfering in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be met with a “lightning-fast” reaction.

In an address to the Council of Legislators in St Petersburg, the Russian leader said his response to any threats will be “lightning-fast” and deadly, adding that “all the objectives will definitely be carried out” in the conflict with Ukraine.

“We have all the tools no-one can boast of… we will use them if necessary”, he said, in what is seen as a reference to ballistic missiles and nuclear arms.

Ukraine’s allies have stepped up the supply of weapons, with the US vowing to make sure Ukraine defeats Russia.

The Kremlin said Russia had been forced into the action by the “unfriendly steps” of Western nations.

Russian President Putin said, “If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside they must know that constitutes an unacceptable strategic threat to Russia.

“They must know that our response to counter-strikes will be lightning-fast.”

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He said what he called the “special military operation” in Ukraine would “guarantee the safety” of people in the Donbas and Crimea.

He also had words of caution for the West, saying its plans to “strangle us economically have failed” – adding that any countries attempting to interfere in the conflict would face “quick” retaliation.

Earlier, Russia imposed sanctions on more than 200 British MPs and former MPs.

Meanwhile, Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland today via the Yamal-Europe pipeline for rejecting its demand for payment in roubles.

It is its toughest retaliation so far against international sanctions over the war, and comes as European countries have joined the US in ramping up arms shipments to help Ukraine fend off a new Russian assault in the east.

Previously, gas payments from Bulgaria and Poland have been made in euros. Although Russia has requested they now be made in roubles, both countries declined and they have now been cut off.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that Gazprom’s decision to halt gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland is “another provocation from the Kremlin” and an “attempt to blackmail” European counties with gas.

The EU announced plans to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds within a year with a longer-term goal of ending Russian energy imports – which currently hand Moscow €800m every day – by 2030.

On Tuesday, Moscow said it was effectively at war with NATO – warning that Western weapons are inflaming the conflict in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said continual deliveries of supplies and weaponry to Ukraine means the NATO alliance has positioned itself as “in essence engaged in war with Russia” and accused the organisation of “pouring oil on the fire”.

He also warned against provoking a third world war and said the threat of a nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated”.

On the other hand, Together, Russia and Ukraine account for roughly one-third of the world’s global wheat exports, nearly 20% of its corn, and 80% of its sunflower oil — and they provide the majority of the Middle East and North Africa region’s supply. 

Wheat futures are up 30% since the invasion began in late February.

Before the war, more than 95% of Ukraine’s total grain, wheat and corn exports was shipped out via the Black Sea, and half of those exports went to MENA countries. That vital conduit is now shut, choking off Ukraine’s maritime trade after its ports came under attack from Russia’s military. 

The country is now trying to export some of its produce by rail, which has enormous logistical limits, while Ukrainian farmers whose infrastructure hasn’t been destroyed attempt to till their fields wearing bulletproof vests. 

Russia is the world’s number one exporter of wheat, as well as – crucially – the top exporter of fertilizer. Fears of getting caught up in western sanctions on Moscow have already disrupted Russia’s exports, too. 

Experts have warned of the risk of riots, famine and mass migration hitting the region if basic food staples like wheat and flour become unaffordable or inaccessible.

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