Vladimir Putin raised the spectre of nuclear war with the West on Friday as he defied international condemnation over his decision to send thousands of Russian troops and heavy armour into Ukraine.

Accused by Europe and Nato of launching a full-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine, the Russian leader boasted to a group of Russian youngsters that "It's best not to mess with us."

In language not seen since the height of the Cold War, he told his audience: "Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers." (read more)

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