Putin will face ‘severe consequences’ if he uses nuclear weapons, No 10 warns

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been in Washington for talks with his US counterpart amid reports Mr Putin could detonate a nuclear warhead over the Black Sea.

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Vladimir Putin will face “severe consequences” if he uses nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, Downing Street warned.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been in Washington for talks with his US counterpart amid reports Mr Putin could detonate a nuclear warhead over the Black Sea.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman did not comment on Mr Wallace’s meeting but said: “We are very clear with Putin that the use of nuclear weapons will lead to severe consequences.”

He added: “I would guide away from speculating on this as an issue. I think the public need to be reassured that we are taking a strong lead in this area.

“I think it would be a mistake to be drawn into speculation on this rather than focusing on what we are seeing day by day, which is a senseless and barbaric attack on civilians across Ukraine.”

It comes after The Sun newspaper quoted a security source who said the “threat” of Mr Putin nuclear weapons “has increased recently”.

Mr Wallace, who is also MP for Wyre and Preston North, pulled out of a planned session with the Commons Defence Committee on Tuesday to take part in talks with US counterpart Lloyd Austin.

On Wednesday, Mr Putin declared martial law in the annexed regions of Ukraine, stepping up Kremlin control.