Countries interfering in the Ukraine war will be met with lightning-fast retaliation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned.
The stern warning came after several European leaders accused Russia of using blackmail tactics by cutting off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.
"If someone intends to intervene in the ongoing events from the outside, and create strategic threats for Russia that are unacceptable to us, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast," Putin said, according to the Russian media.
The direct warning from the Kremlin comes amid worsening concerns over the putative use of nuclear weapons if this war goes on. "We have all the tools for this, things no one else can boast of having now. And we will not boast, we will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know that," the President added, Reuters reported.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy meanwhile called on large European nations that import gas from Russia to stop the Russian dependence. According to Zelensky, cutting off trade with Russia is the only way to bring back stability in Europe.
"The sooner everyone in Europe recognises that they cannot depend on Russia for trade, the sooner it will be possible to guarantee stability in European markets," Zelenskiy said.
However, this could be an arduous path for many countries. Germany, the largest importer of Russian gas in Europe, says its economy will slip into recession if Russian gas stops flowing.
Russia halted gas supplies to Poland under the Yamal contract on Wednesday, data from the European Union network of gas transmission operators showed, in a deepening of the rift between the West and Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Gazprom stopped gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland after the countries refused to pay in roubles. Following tough western sanctions that aimed to strangle its economy, Russia had demanded that its energy buyers must pay in roubles.
However, the president of the European Commission has said the halting of Russian gas by the country's export monopoly amounted to yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an 'instrument of blackmail.'
Kremlin has roundly denied the European charges and reiterated that Moscow remained a reliable energy supplier.
Hurting Russian Economy
Though Europe intends to hurt the Russian economy by forcing an energy trade embargo, Russia has been able to buffet the onslaught with the help of friendly governments in Asia.
Russia's Asian friends have dealt a heavy blow to the US and have all but neutralized the impact of the oil sanctions Washington imposed on Moscow following the Ukraine invasion. While the US could not ever bank on China to support its geo-strategic objectives, India's stance that it will continue to buy Russian oil was a shocker for the US and Europe.
Putin's strongly worded push back against Europe has come at a time when the Western allies are ramping up arms supply to Ukraine. The US has already committed hundreds of millions worth weapons to Kyiv. Germany has also said it will deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine. These include strategic Gepard tanks that are equipped with anti-aircraft guns.
Russia has warned the United States to desist from arming Ukraine to the teeth. Moscow's envoy to the US said Washington's position is inflaming the Ukraine situation.
Despite Russian warning, more than 40 countries met in Germany earlier this week to discuss how to beef up Ukraine's defence against Russia, even as Moscow is shifting focus to the eastern and southern regions where it has key strategic goals to fulfill.