Australia and New Zealand condemn Putin’s threats as ‘unthinkable’


SYDNEY/WELLINGTON Sept. 22 (Reuters) – Australia and New Zealand condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s escalation of the war in Ukraine, saying his threats to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia were “unthinkable” and are justification for the war was false.

Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first wartime mobilization since World War II, shocking civilians with what Western countries described as an act of desperation in the face of a losing war effort, and announced steps to annex parts of Ukrainian territory while he threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

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“These threats are unthinkable and irresponsible. His claims about defending Russia’s territorial integrity are untrue. No fake referendum will live up to them,” Australian Foreign Secretary Penny Wong said in New York, where she called the General United Nations Assembly attends.

“Russia alone is responsible for this illegal and immoral war, and peace must first lie when Russia withdraws from Ukrainian territory,” she added.

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern strongly condemned Russia’s escalation, saying Putin’s claim that he could use additional weapons “contrary to the lie that they have been told they are there to liberate others”.

“This highlights the lies surrounding this war,” she told media in New York, where she attends the United Nations General Assembly.

“What is happening in Ukraine is illegal, immoral, it causes the loss of civilian casualties and that loss could increase if, as Putin claimed, he broadens the types of weapons he uses in this war,” she added. (Reporting by Kirsty Needham in Sydney and Lucy Craymer in Wellington. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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