Vladimir Putin set off on a long rant at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday 12 September. He said that Russian forces had intercepted a sabotage attempt at a Russian atomic facility, and that the ‘saboteurs’ had been interrogated once caught. The Russian President claims they admitted that they were trained by British secret services.
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This is the first time that details have emerged about this event, and Putin has offered no proof to back these claims. However, he spoke with conviction as he threatened and ridiculed the UK - with a special comment or two for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Putin’s vicious rant
Without saying where or when this alleged attack took place, Putin claimed that the saboteurs ‘admitted they were trained under supervision of British instructors’:
Interrogation showed they had been tasked to damage one of our nuclear stations by exploding a power line... to damage the work of the power plant. And this is not the first attempt.
The Russian President spoke ahead of his meeting with Kim Jong-un at the Vostochny space centre. It seems he believes this was not the first time the attackers set out to sabotage the atomic facility.
Putin’s threat to Rishi Sunak
The Russian leader went on to take a stab at Rishi Sunak, accusing him of being out of the loop and questioning whether Britain understands the severity of the threat Russia poses:
Do [the British] understand what they are playing with, or not? Are they provoking our response at Ukrainian nuclear sites, nuclear stations, or what? Does the British leadership, or the Prime Minister know what their special services are engaged with in Ukraine?
As his rant continued, it became clear that he knows such comments will be seen as aggressive:
I am afraid [the British] simply underestimate…. I know there will be howling that starts after my words like ‘These are threats!’, ‘Nuclear blackmail!’, and so on.
Rishi Sunak accused Russia of targeting a civilian cargo ship in the Black Sea at the start of this week. This, teamed with Putin’s recent rant, could lead to heightened tensions between the UK and Russia, as The Independent suggests.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister was returning from the G20 summit in India. He is yet to react to Putin’s comments.
The Independent: Ranting Putin threatens Sunak and makes wild claim UK ‘backed nuclear plant raid’
Express: Putin's chilling warning UK could face 'serious consequences' over nuke disruption